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Britons wear only half of the fashion they buy

Some interesting stats reported in Fashion Network by Sandra Halliday. Definitely linked to our increase in customers renting to decrease textile waste and avoid wardrobes full of unused clothes.

Read the article below or here >
“With Britons buying more clothes than any consumers in Europe and the impact of fast fashion on the environment being a major topic at present, it’s interesting to see a new piece of research that says UK consumers buy nearly 1,000 items of clothing in their lifetime that they end up not wearing.

And that means they’ll spend up to £36,000 on clothes that they don’t wear, according to the study from sustainable clothing brand Thought.

It commissioned a survey of 2,000 consumers and found that UK shoppers buy 28 items of clothing on average annually, with 12 of them never being worn. And as many as 36% of shoppers admit that they don’t need the amount clothes they buy.

This is both good and bad news for the fashion industry’s bottom line as it pushes up sales, but it also means that there are likely to be more secondhand items circulating in the resale economy, and it also shines a further spotlight on any weak sustainability practices within the industry.

One side effect of all this over-buying is that UK shoppers buy around 1.5 billion garments annually and almost 60% of their clothing ends up in landfill or incinerators within just a few years of being acquired.

And given that large amounts of clothing are being bought unnecessarily, this adds a huge environmental impact in terms of materials use and issues such as water wastage.

The study also shows that 40% of the consumers surveyed own clothes that have never been worn and 17% “often” buy clothes to wear only once.
However, the study also showed their thinking is shifting in a more sustainable direction in their’ lives generally. Some 56% are using less plastic, 38% are walking or cycling instead of driving, 24% are eating less meat, and 16% are cutting the number of flights they take.

And on the fashion front? The survey showed that 27% say they’re reducing the amount of fast fashion clothing they buy and 33% are actively avoiding buying anything that will only be worn once.

Additionally, 72% of consumers regularly donate items to charity and 52% regularly repair items.”


Press in the Daily Mail | Designer rental Girl Meets Dress

 

Girl Meets Dress is in today’s Daily Mail newspaper and Femail online –  a feature about some new rental websites launching. By Rosie Green who tries out some fashion to hire.

Read the whole feature below >

“Yes, you can wear YSL for just £80! And it’s all thanks to fashion’s new designer rental revolution. Stylist ROSIE GREEN, who has a phobia of second-hand clothes, puts it to the test . . .
There’s now a movement towards reworking and mending the clothes you own
A slew of new websites are redefining rental fashion for people of all sizes
Celebrity stylist Rosie Green tries out My Wardrobe HQ for designer looks at cut prices

Remember when we bought outfits to wear for one night only? Or proudly announced we were wearing ‘Primani’? Cheap, throwaway clothes used to feel fun — but now, in our eco-aware world, disposable fashion seems distasteful.

The facts are brutal: textile production contributes more to climate change than shipping and aviation combined. In the UK, we send a million tons of clothing to landfill every year. Not harmless fun, after all.

With fast-fashion out of fashion, there’s now a movement towards reworking and mending the clothes you already have. Or, if you have to buy new, consciously choosing quality over quantity.

Both are sustainable strategies I can get on board with, but the idea of renting clothes had never occurred to me. As a spoilt fashion stylist, I’ve always assumed I won’t find anything I’d actually want to hire. ‘Rental fashion’ feels like the reserve of twentysomething men going to Moss Bros for dinner jackets, or my mother’s generation borrowing hats for wedding season.

When I worked for glossy women’s magazines, styling everyone from Sarah Jessica Parker to Cameron Diaz, I used to borrow outfits from the designers to wear to big events. I once wore the green, slashed-to-everywhere palm-print Versace dress with built-in knickers that J.Lo made famous (yes, the exact same one — I didn’t mind sharing a gusset with her!).

But to do that often involves being a sample size (usually a tall size 8, which I never quite was) and on the radar of the labels you want to wear, which applies to about 0.0001 per cent of the population.

Now, though, a slew of new websites are redefining rental fashion: Hurr, Front Row, Nothing To Wear, By Rotation.

Instead of targeting mothers-of-the-bride, they are wooing women who want cool, luxe designer pieces they couldn’t otherwise afford.

They charge about 10 per cent of the retail price — so you could find yourself wearing a £500 dress for just £50 outlay — and are increasingly offering less expensive items. The millennial generation is using them for office outfits or lower-key Saturday nights.

Rent The Runway is the most famous. A slick U.S. company, valued at $1 billion, it has been a roaring success for ten years in America and is rumoured to be coming here later this year.

The British equivalent launching this month is My Wardrobe HQ. It is founded by Sacha Newall, former head of sales and marketing at my-wardrobe.com, and Tina Lake, previously a boutique owner and buyer for Sir Philip Green’s High Street fashion chains including Topshop.

They have been trialling the service since July.

Already a favourite with glamorous foodies the Hemsley sisters, and models Cara Delevingne and Arizona Muse, what makes My Wardrobe HQ (mywardrobehq.com) different is it combines a wide choice of rental labels — from the ultra-luxe YSL, Chloe and Australian label Zimmermann to more mid-market brands such as Ganni, Rixo and Joseph — with the option of renting out your own clothes, too. It’s peer-to-peer lending.

With a number of parties and events coming up for which I need killer outfits, I decide to road-test My Wardrobe HQ. It suits my limited budget and shopping time and, as I often post selfies, I don’t want my feed to be full of the same three dresses on rotation. The site lets you either rent an outfit as a one-off or join the subscriber service for £9.99 a month.

This gets you a seasonal home visit from a My Wardrobe HQ stylist — meaning you can try on a range of outfits to see what works, then reserve your chosen outfit for the dates you need. (Stylists currently only travel within the M25, but the aim is to expand further.)

It costs from £30 to £200 to rent an outfit (prices are set for seven days, but you can rent for as long as you want).

Some clothes and accessories — shoes, bags and jewellery are also available — are sourced from the founders’ fashion contacts; some are bought new for rental, giving clients access to on-trend items that might be redundant after six months.

Some outfits still even have the tags on — if you’re lucky, you’ll get the first wear — and the clothes are constantly quality checked to ensure no signs of damage.

If you fall in love with a piece, you can also buy it (and it will be generally 30 per cent less than the official retail price).

I opt for the subscriber service and arrange a home visit. My stylist, Alessia Farnesi, a seasoned pro with more than 15 years’ experience across commercial, editorial and celebrity styling, arrives at my door with about 20 outfits. She emits positivity and has amazing personal style.

In the past, I’ve had mediocre experiences with at-home stylists, whom I’ve always, somewhat arrogantly, thought less qualified than myself. But Alessia has studied my Instagram profile to get a feel for my aesthetic.

She knows I like clean lines and feminine dresses with a bit of edge. She also has a good grasp of what would be flattering on my size 10, 5ft 10in frame. (Most of their pieces are size 8 to 14 and Alessia admits they could do with more outfits in larger sizes.) ‘I take the hard work out of it,’ she smiles, and her easy-going nature immediately puts me at ease.

Some outfits are dresses I would have chosen myself; others push me out of my comfort zone in a good way — there are colours I never normally consider, but which work brilliantly. Alessia is honest when things don’t suit my shape and genuine when they do. And the clothes are so beautiful they make me giddy with excitement.

The first outfit I try on is a YSL jumpsuit that is exquisitely cut with satin lapels and just the right amount of edge.

It fits like a glove and looks sexy and stylish. Perfect for the kind of occasion where you want to make an impact, but don’t want to look like you’ve tried too hard. I love it, but would never spend the £1,000-plus it would have cost new. However, I can hire it for £80.

Then comes a supremely flattering Amanda Wakeley jumpsuit (£90 to rent; £320 to buy), followed by a Saloni floral-patterned party dress (£80 to rent, £300 to buy used from the site; it would have been £800 new) that skims the body.

A silk V-neck red dress by Polish label Magda Butrym (originally £1,500, but £150 to rent) makes me feel like I could work any room. There is also a dress by top British designer Roksanda (worth £700, but just £60 to rent) which has a bold pattern, nipped-in waist and is very demure.

It’s amazing to try these pieces on in my own home. Not only can I see the quality and check the fit, but also how they work with my own accessories. Alessia’s edit means I’m not overwhelmed by choice and the buy-it-now prices are surprisingly reasonable. I’m also impressed that the items are all on-trend.

‘I love fashion and still get so excited to see the new season’s collections,’ says co-founder Tina. ‘Unfortunately, my budget can never keep up with my ‘lust list’, so rental allows me to nail all the trends without breaking the bank.’

Sacha’s motivation was greener: ‘I was doing some work in car-sharing. For every one car shared, 11 are less likely to be bought. I thought if we could apply the same idea to fashion, we would help solve the fast-fashion crisis that is destroying the planet.’

She adds: ‘Everyone loves beautifully made designer clothes, but few of us have the budget to buy them.

‘By offering people the chance to rent and resell their purchases, it allows them to trade up to what they really want, safe in the knowledge that if they buy well, the designer item will, in the long run, cost less than the High Street copy, which is only heading for landfill.’

Their core customer is predicted to be aged 25 to 55. ‘They might be working or stay-at-home mums,’ Sacha says. ‘But they all have a love of fashion.’

Both women recognise the need to reinvent dress hire. ‘The stereotype is the huge taffeta balldresses from the Eighties,’ laughs Sacha. ‘Think back to pre-fast-fashion, when every High Street had a dress hire shop. This is just a reinvention for a new generation.’

My Wardrobe HQ professionally dry-cleans its outfits after every wear. I saw no hint of foundation smudges/deodorant marks/cat hairs on anything.

If you spill something down your hired outfit or damage it, they will try their best to repair or clean it, but if it is ruined you will pay the ‘buy it now’ price.

Alessia asks me if there is anything I would like to rent out to other people.

I do have some designer pieces languishing in my wardrobe: a Dolce & Gabbana leopard-print crop top from my 20s that is probably not appropriate for a 40-plus mother; a pair of Marc Jacobs powder-blue studded Mary Janes that a) don’t fit and b) are so vertiginous they make walking an impossibility; a Matthew Williamson maxi-dress that cost an eye-watering amount but made me look pregnant; and some costume pearls that would make most people look cool, but me look frumpy.

None of these clothes are new season, but will form part of the site’s evergreen offering.

It makes me happy to think someone else could get joy from them. Perhaps I’ll also recoup some of my original spend. Someone might even buy them.

Alessia takes everything I bring out, except one dress deemed too damaged. If they are rented, I get 60 per cent of the revenue. That will be, for example, £50 per rental for the pearls.

The financial returns, according to Sacha and Tina, are 30 per cent better than selling on pre-loved designer sites because you get repeat business. If, at any time, I want my things returned, I just submit a request.

After a couple of enjoyable hours I reserve three outfits — the YSL jumpsuit, the Magda Butrym dress and the Saloni floral off-the shoulder dress.

Hiring the three items, for three occasions (I get to keep them for seven days each time), comes to a total of £230 — and I’m hoping to offset this if my own items are rented or bought. The YSL is for a smart Press dinner, the Saloni for a 40th birthday party and the Magda for an awards ceremony.

I know the first time I wear a rented outfit I’ll be nervous. Will I be avoiding people with red wine and refusing to dance in case I, er, perspire? But the anxiety is a small amount to pay for the eco benefits. Plus I’ll feel fabulous.

After I have worn the clothes, My Wardrobe HQ sends a courier to collect them. The eco-friendly aspect of My Wardrobe HQ is more than just virtue-signalling. They even use green couriers and green cleaning methods using an environmentally friendly ‘ozone’ treatment.

‘When I headed up buying for High Street chains 20 years ago, we had no concept of the environmental damage we were doing,’ says Tina. ‘We would simply get excited about the fact we could produce a man-made fibre that felt like cashmere, which meant we could offer ‘cashmere touch’ jumpers for under £20.

‘Twenty years later, I now know the one million jumpers I ordered are sitting in landfill somewhere and will never biodegrade.

‘We are at a tipping point. We must change the way we consume, or it will be catastrophic. The least damaging thing we can do is reuse and share. If we can move away from needing ‘new’ and embrace the idea of ‘new to me’, we are halfway there.’

Eco-friendly, financially savvy and good for the conscience? Count me in!

WHERE TO BORROW: THE BEST OF THE REST

GIRL MEETS DRESS

A Nationwide service offering designer dresses to rent for two or seven nights. Either pay as you go, or as a member, which gets you unlimited access for £99 per month (hire.girlmeetsdress.com).

More than 150 high-end brands stocked, such as Alexander McQueen, Victoria Beckham and Marc Jacobs. It includes categories such as weddings, birthdays and Ascot.

NOTHING TO WEAR

THIS rents out designer and vintage items across the UK for 15 per cent of their retail price. You can pay per item, or sign up to one of three monthly subscriptions (nothing-to-wear.com), which start from the Soho option at £90 for one day dress and one cocktail dress.

FRONT ROW

A London-only service, which allows you to access the latest designer clothing, at 10 to 25 per cent of the retail price — including Fendi, Chanel and Gucci.

If what you want doesn’t exist, vote for your ‘favourites’ by sending in a photo, to be considered by the buyers (frontrow.uk.com).

HURR COLLECTIVE

Best for renting out your own clothes. Upload pictures of your items for rent, with a price and location. You have to pay P&P and for dry-cleaning. Rental periods start at seven days (hurrcollective.com)


In the news: The changing habits of London’s shoppers

 

The Evening standard ES magazine is always given out during London Fashion week, and while the Girl Meets Dress team were at the shows this weekend they enjoyed reading this feature by Kate Wills on how our complicated relationship with buying clothes is just the tip of the iceberg. Ethical shopping is on all of our lips, but fast fashion is still booming. Luckily, renting fashion is an option available to all women.

Read the article below or click here to visit the Evening standard website >

 

“The posters pasted up on Tube stations across London tell one story, the people in front of them another.

Often, if you ask commuters standing near the omnipresent adverts for brands such as Boohoo, Missguided or PrettyLittleThing  they will tell you that they are buying more expensive, longer-lasting items, and fewer of them. According to ES Magazine’s readers’ survey, 34 per cent of you say that environmental concerns are affecting your spending habits (far more than Brexit is), and 53 per cent now shop with sustainability in mind, yet also admit that whether a garment is on-trend is a higher priority than the ethics of how it was made.

The majority of readers say they like shopping on the high street, but last year an average of 16 stores closed per day, with high-profile casualties including House of Fraser, Debenhams and LK Bennett. Meanwhile, online ‘rapid fashion’ retailers are posting record profits: Boohoo’s revenues jumped to £857 million this year and Missguided, which launched its now infamous £1 bikini during the Love Island ad break, was recently valued at £700 million.

London is one of the shopping capitals of the world, but the way Londoners are buying clothes is, well, all over the shop.

‘Shopping habits are in flux because consumers are in flux, especially millennials, who are the most contradictory generation of all time,’ says Melanie Arrow, head of strategy at ad agency BMB. ‘We say we care about the environment, but we engage with fast fashion. We say we want brands to do good in the world, and yet we’ll queue round the block for the latest trainer and support the extremes of capitalism. But when it comes to the environment, the cultural mindset has definitely shifted. It’s no longer hippy or alternative to take your own bags to the shops and use reusable cups or bottles; it’s simply being conscious. And that is extending to our wardrobes.’

Indeed, the impact of fashion on the environment is now impossible to ignore, even for die-hard shopaholics. British shoppers throw away a million tonnes of clothing a year. As well as contributing to landfill, our wear-once, throw-away mindset is fuelling the textile industry’s 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year — more than international flights and maritime shipping combined. Not to mention that making clothes consumes lake-sized volumes of fresh water and creates chemical and microplastic pollution. It is estimated that the fashion industry, said to be the second-largest polluter after the oil industry, could by 2050 be responsible for a quarter of the Earth’s carbon budget needed to keep the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. And yet in June, ministers rejected plans for a 1p per garment levy to tackle fast fashion. They also refused to support a ban on incinerating clothes and a reduced tax rate for clothes repair services — something already implemented in Sweden.

There are calls from climate protesters for us to follow the eco-minded Swedes in other ways, too. In July, the Swedish Fashion Council announced that it was cancelling Fashion Week due to concerns about sustainability. Extinction Rebellion picketed London Fashion Week for the first time in February, and at the time of going to press was expected to be an even stronger presence this season. With the sustainability conversation louder than ever, we’re all looking for ways to make our closets more conscious. Agatha Lintott, a former buyer for Burberry, set up Antibad — dubbed ‘the Net-a-Porter for green style’ — last year.

LA-based sustainable fashion brand Reformation is opening its first London store in Westbourne Grove this month. And even the high street is jumping on the bandwagon in the hope of wooing back woke shoppers. Zara announced in July that all of its clothes will be made from sustainable fabrics by 2025, Primark has brought out sustainable cotton jeans and pyjamas, and H&M has its Conscious range of more eco-friendly options, plus an in-store recycling programme. Even Boohoo (which recently bought up Karen Millen and Coast’s online operations) launched a sustainable collection in June.

But critics are sceptical about this green-washing, not least because the technology doesn’t exist to recycle blended textiles. Ethical shopping expert Lucy Siegle has pointed out that it would take H&M up to 12 years to make garments out of just 1,000 tons of clothing waste. Meanwhile, it produces that same volume of new clothes in a matter of days.

‘I’ll often read an article where it says, “top five sustainable brands”, and I’m, like, they’re not, they’re not, they’re not,’ says Amy Powney, creative director of the sustainable British fashion label Mother of Pearl. ‘You’ve got a lot of people putting out sweeping statements, thinking, “If I don’t start talking about sustainability, then I’m out of the cool crew.” Unfortunately for customers, you have to properly connect to the brand to see if it’s authentic because people are completely green-washing. It’s very depressing actually.’

Aja Barber, a fashion writer who focuses on sustainable fashion, is equally scathing of the ratings apps that allow consumers to discover how ethical their favourite brands are, such as Good On You. ‘It’s not one size fits all, so I don’t think you can apply certain measures to every single brand, whether they have 5,000 stores or 150 stores,’ she explains. ‘The bottom line is, we all need to buy less and shop with small designers. It doesn’t have to be more expensive — if you’re buying dresses in H&M or Zara, you can afford an independent designer on Etsy.’

The mantra might be ‘buy less, buy better’, but it might soon be ‘buy less, rent instead’. Good news for the 47 per cent of us spending less than £50 a month on clothes. A recent study by Westfield found that the UK clothing rental market has a potential value of £923m, and is forecast to boom over the next few years. While the concept has been big in the US for a while, it has been slow to take off this side of the pond. According to our survey, just 1 per cent of us are currently renting clothes. However, an influx of glossy new online platforms, such as London-based app The Nu Wardrobe, Hurr Collective and My Wardrobe HQ, could change all that.

‘A year and a half ago no one really cared about sustainable fashion; now it’s booming,’ says Victoria Prew, co-founder of Hurr Collective, which built up a 5,000-strong waiting list for its peer-to-peer lending of dresses from the likes of Ganni, Rixo and Chanel. ‘The sharing economy has disrupted all other areas of our lives, from cars to holiday homes to pets, and our wardrobes are lagging behind. We’re not a jumble sale like eBay, we’re an aspirational curated e-commerce site. Sustainability is the number-one driver for us, so all our packaging is fully recyclable and we deliver by bicycle.’

Social media has no doubt affected our shopping habits, too. A survey by Barnardo’s found that one in seven women wouldn’t re-wear a dress she had been photographed in. But rather than ‘wardrobing’ (that’s wearing an item and then returning it, FYI), renting or reselling clothes might be the solution. Second-hand clothing websites such as Vestiaire Collective, ThredUp and, of course, eBay, are growing 21 times faster than the high street and will be worth $52bn in five years. There’s also Bundlee, the UK’s first baby clothing rental subscription service.

In the era of ‘peak stuff’, the purpose of shopping, and what we expect from a store, is changing. ‘Offline shopping needs to become more pleasurable and stimulating if it wants to compete with the online giants,’ says Jen Musgrave, senior strategist at advertising agency Rapp UK. ‘That’s why experiential retail is the latest movement.’ She points to Samsung, which hasn’t just opened a store in  Coal Drops Yard, but rather a ‘creative and digital playground’. Next year The Outernet, a 2,000 capacity ‘cultural amphitheatre’, will open on Tottenham Court Road. Here, 360-degree, high-resolution, floor-to-ceiling screens will provide ‘product sampling’, allowing shoppers to try on 3D products. How this will translate into sales remains to be seen, although retailers will be able to use customer data to suggest outfits.

Online retailers are also upping their AI game to provide a better customer experience. Amazon Echo Look (already available in the US and coming soon to the UK) will take photos and videos of your outfit while you ask, ‘Alexa, how do I look?’, and then send you styling advice and suggestions for clothes to go with what you already own. Retailers including Net-A-Porter are already experimenting with incorporating data from your calendar — about a future trip, and what the weather forecast is for that location, for instance — and using algorithms to suggest outfits accordingly.

I meet Charlotte Turner, head of sustainable fashion and textiles for Eco-Age, in a juice bar around the corner from Primark, Oxford Street. Though just feet away shoppers are scrambling for £15 maxi dresses and £2 sunglasses, Turner looks chic in a white top she made from a vintage French bed sheet, and linen trousers. Eco-Age, which was founded by Livia Firth, provides consultation to businesses including Matchesfashion.com and Marks & Spencer on how to operate more sustainably.

‘Not so long ago people thought sustainable fashion meant unflattering designs and low-quality fabrics,’ says Turner. ‘That couldn’t be further from the truth. There are some amazing fabrics and initiatives out there: for example, Burberry recently developed a collection with Econyl regenerated nylon, which is made from reclaimed fishing nets, fabric scraps and industrial nylon waste. We’re also seeing fashion colleges actively educating the next generation about social and environmental sustainability and how to integrate it across their work; it’s not just an afterthought. We’re continuously involved in mentoring emerging designers as well.’

Turner is keen to stress that caring about the environment doesn’t have to suck the joy out of fashion — 79 per cent of respondents to our survey said they enjoyed shopping. ‘Buying clothes that are made with care and attention to communities and the environment actually makes the process of shopping more meaningful,’ she says. ‘We can celebrate the brands that are working in positive ways, and encourage those that have progress to make. It is possible to have a transparent supply chain, responsibly produced materials, a low environmental footprint — and an incredible outfit.’


Polka dot dress

This is officially the summer of spotty and patterned dresses. Walking around, on trains, in the supermarket, at supper, everyone’s wearing one. There are a few day-style dresses in particular that have some things in common, they’re all pretty, breezy and cool to wear when it’s hot outside. You can wear them with trainers, shoes, heels or sandals depending on the look that you want to get and you’ll be and you’ll be comfortable and lovely at the same time, without a considerable effort.

Among these styles polka dots have been steadily rising on the trend circuit since March. This summer dress is suitable for many occasion; it can be a smart casual outfit and a perfect choice for a black tie event as well.

It is, however, a timeless print with a rich sartorial history, one that is fundamental to its appeal today. As a matter of fact the modern term “Polka Dot” comes from the polka dance craze that swept through Europe in the mid-19th century.

The meaning behind dotted fabric patterns has evolved over the years, with the very first ones emerging in medieval Europe – though at the time, dots on clothing were seen as a symbol of the bubonic plague. Not exactly a fashion statement.

From the classic printed midi dress many cult styles have been designed. One particular dress has already gone viral a polka dot dress with thousands of women spotting its virtues.

Check out our polka dot dresses and come to our showroom in London if you prefer to do a try-on with us. Otherwise just browse the dress that you like and hire it!

Click on the links below to find out more:

Limits Polka Dot Gown

See You Now Gown

Polly Gown

 

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