This week Australian Vogue wrote about Girl Meets Dress, asking “Could the future of sustainable fashion lie in the rental economy?Â VogueÂ speaks to experts about how you can upgrade your wardrobe by borrowing, not buying”
Read the whole article below, byÂ EMILY CHAN
“Whether itâ€™s a vintageÂ DiorÂ gown or aÂ million-dollar Tiffany necklace, celebrities are well-accustomed to borrowing designer pieces to wear on the red carpet â€“ especiallyÂ during awards season. But for the everyday consumer, renting premium fashion remains a relatively untapped area that is far from mainstream. This, however, is about to change.
Thanks to the influx of fashion rental sites across the world â€“ from the US-based Rent The Runway, to Girl Meets Dress in the UK and YCloset in China â€“ the rental economy is growing, with the industry set to be worth US$1.9 billion by the end of 2023.
One of the major factors driving change is the increasing global concern surrounding sustainability;Â a circular economyÂ has been widely recognised as a legitimate solution. â€śPeople are becoming more aware of their environmental footprint; these days none of us want to be wasteful,â€ť Girl Meets Dress co-founder Anna Bance tellsÂ Vogue. â€ś50 per cent of fast fashion pieces are discarded within a year and as responsible shoppers we are under pressure to close this loop.â€ť
The rise of Instagram and influencer culture that feeds the need for more variety in peopleâ€™s wardrobes has contributed to the boom in rental businesses too. For those who want the best of both, sustainable fashion updates if you will, renting is the perfect solution. Merri Smith, co-founder of peer-to-peer app Tulerie observes that â€świth social media, people are photographing their entire lives now, you donâ€™t want to wear things over and overâ€ť. But instead of buying something new, â€śwhy not borrow it?â€ť she asks.
Luxury brands are also beginning to tap into the potential of the rental market. In fact, Rent The Runway recently teamed up withÂ Derek Lam,Â Jason WuÂ andÂ Prabal GurungÂ to unveil their first exclusive capsule collections. â€śAs the scale of our business has grown, [designers] have realised [the fashion rental market is] healthy; that itâ€™s not hurting their regular business,â€ť says Rent The Runwayâ€™s senior buying director James Newell.
With the industry on the rise,Â VogueÂ gets the inside track on renting premium fashion.
Build on your existing wardrobe
You should think of renting as a way to upgrade your current wardrobe, says Smith, who founded Tulerie with business partner Violet Gross after finding they were increasingly borrowing from friends. â€ś70 per cent of your wardrobe is the pieces youâ€™re wearing over and over. We want people to look at enhancing that,â€ť she explains. By renting pieces to supplement your core wardrobe, you can also afford to invest in more expensive staple items that would normally be out of your reach.
Donâ€™t be afraid to take risks
As youâ€™re not committing to a single piece, you can experiment outside of your style comfort zone when renting â€“ including when it comes to new brands. â€śBe willing to take risks! This is your chance to take rational decision-making out of your fashion choices,â€ť Newell, from Rent The Runway, advises. â€śSwap out clothes regularly, try new trends and borrow for parts of your life you didnâ€™t anticipate at the start of your journey.â€ť
Plan for special occasions
If youâ€™ve got a big event coming up, itâ€™s important to think ahead â€“ as popular dresses can often get booked up. â€śThere is no rule about how far in advance of the event you should order. The sooner the better. We get dresses booked for weeks, months ahead,â€ť Bance, from Girl Meets Dress, advises.
The boom in the rental fashion market is in part due to more relaxed dress codes in the office, making workwear a key focus area. â€ś15 to 20 years ago, a woman could wear the same anonymous suit as her male counterparts, or invest in a couple of chic dresses and get by with that,â€ť Newell says. â€śNow there is such a tremendous demand to have varied looks. [Renting] offers a nice solution.â€ť
Make use of the rental community
The online communities that exist around fashion rental sites are a valuable resource. 60 per cent of Rent The Runway customers leave reviews on items theyâ€™ve borrowed; and Tulerie, which sees users borrowing from each other, has also found their members wanting to share tips. â€śPeople want to talk, they want advice on how to style something,â€ť Smith explains.Â â€śWe are trying to create this network of women, who are bonding over [a] shared interest of clothing.â€ť