- Simone Preuss |
Once sniggered at as a marginal or niche trend, clothing rental services have proven naysayers wrong: Their subscriber bases are constantly growing and since one of the pioneers, Rent the Runway, opened shop nine years ago, others have followed suit, be it as stand alone businesses, rental retailers like Wardrobe and FashionPass that bring together rental options from numerous brands, or as add-on services of established brands and retailers. FashionUnited has put together the developments of the last few months.
Starting this month, American luxury department store chain Bloomingdale's is offering a new subscription service to rent designer womenswear through its e-commerce site. Called “My List at Bloomingdale’s" and priced at 149 US dollar a month, the service allows subscribers to put at least ten items in a rental queue and receive four of these items to wear at a time. Subscribers may receive new clothes as many times as they want each month, but the four items in each shipment must be returned before the next shipment will be sent out.
American clothing and accessories retailer Banana Republic is also jumping on the bandwagon and by launching a rental subscription last month. Called Style Passport, the new online subscription service allows members unlimited access to the brand's women’s apparel collection for a flat monthly fee of 85 US dollars. Users of the service can rent up to three items at a time with free priority shipping, unlimited exchanges and returns and complimentary laundering services. Customers will also have the option to purchase and keep any item.
American sportswear giant Nike has taken the clothing rental service to a very specific audience and product: footwear for children. Called Nike Adventure Club, the first footwear subscription service for children aged 2 to 10 launched last month. It aims to streamline the often cumbersome process of selecting, fitting and purchasing shoes for children whose feet are constantly growing. According to Nike, 60 percent of people, children included, are walking around in the wrong-sized shoes at any given time.
Children (or their parents) can regularly select Nike and Converse shoes through three tiers of subscription services, ranging from four pairs a year to 12 pairs a year. Subscribers can choose from over 100 different sneaker styles, ranging across the spectrum of performance and sportswear. Once the shoes are ready to be replaced, they can be sent back and Nike Adventure Club will either donate or recycle them.
American multinational lifestyle retail corporation Urban Outfitters launched its new subscription service 'Nuuly' at the end of July. It offers its subscribers the opportunity to rent from the brands included in URBN’s portfolio as well as with over 100 third-party labels such as AGOLDE, Paige Denim, Alice McCall, LoveShackFancy, and more. Additionally, subscribers will also be able to choose from a collection of one-of-a-kind vintage pieces. It is priced at 88 US dollars and includes six items per month.
Dutch fashion company Scotch & Soda has entered into the fashion rental trend with a rental service specifically for menswear; a market overlooked by other retailers and that have virtually no competition for now. Scotch & Soda’s customer base is already about 60 percent men and thus the company has dedicated a separate website to the new service called Scotch Select. At scotchselect.com, subscribers can choose three items among hundreds and wear them for as long as they like. Upon return or purchase (at 65 percent of the retail price), they will receive their next three items.
American specialty apparel retail chain stores for women Ann Taylor Loft has launched a new subscription service for size inclusive clothing rentals. Called Infinite Style, the new service functions similarly to Rent the Runway's Unlimited subscription in that it allows users to rent items with unlimited swaps for a flat monthly fee. Hundreds of styles across petite, tall, plus and maternity collections from Loft, sized between 00 and 26, are available to the users.
Speaking of untapped markets, American fragrance brand Skylar launched its Skylar Scent Club in April, marking the first time a direct-to-consumer fragrance brand has unveiled such an offering. For a monthly subscription fee of 20 US dollars, the Skylar Scent Club provides its members with a new, limited edition scent in a 10ml glass rollerball that is only available through the club.
American apparel retailer Ann Taylor Loft has launched a new subscription service for size inclusive clothing rentals. Called Infinite Style, the new service functions similarly to Rent the Runway's Unlimited subscription in that it allows users to rent items with unlimited swaps for a flat monthly fee. Priced at 65 US dollars per month, Infinite Style by Ann Taylor allows subscribers to rent three items at a time.
At the beginning of the year, American clothing and accessories retailer American Eagle startet its new rental service called Style Drop. Consumers pay a monthly subscription fee of 49.95 US dollars and can borrow up to three items at a time and swap out items during the month. The most reasonable of monthly fees mentioned here also covers shipping, returns, rental exchanges and laundry. Rental consumers can cancel the service at any time.
Rent the Runway was one of the first fashion rental services, opening its digital doors nine years ago to offer consumers a short-term alternative to spending large sums on items they wouldn’t wear more than once. Rent the Runway identified that clothing rental is economical when factoring cost per wear, especially on luxury and formal items. Already a year ago, the company opened its first brick and mortar location, a standalone store in downtown San Francisco. In October 2018, the rental service teamed up with coworking rental space chain WeWork to open a network of clothing drop-off boxes. Available in the lobbies of 15 WeWork locations across the US, the boxes allow subscribers to immediately return rented clothing items and free a slot in their subscription to order another item.
Clothing rental services are economical and ecological as they curb the ever growing pile of unused clothing in consumers’ closets and are easy on their pockets. As more and more consumers participate in the trend, brands, retailers and dedicated rental services will also multiply in years to come, making it far from drab and a more than one billion US dollar industry by 2022 according to some estimates.
Photos: Urban Outfitters, Nike, Skylar, Urban Outfitters, Rent the Runway