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Is renting clothes the future of fast fashion?

Wriiten by Razan Alzayani for The National, this feature about the news of H&M partnering with YCloset in China to test clothing hire. Read the full article below:

“Retail giant H&M recently announced that it would test out clothing rentals at its flagship Stockholm store.

In an unexpected move for fast fashion, retail giant H&M is going to trial renting out its clothes. The multinational retail company will be offering members of its customer loyalty programme the chance to rent selected items from its 2012-2019 Conscious Exclusive collections via its flagship Stockholm store.

The Conscious Exclusive collection is a higher-end, limited-edition sustainable range that retails from about Dh350 to Dh1,000. With the new rental service, up to three pieces from this collection can be rented out at a time for a week, and for a cost of 350 Swedish krona (Dh135) per piece. There will even be a repair service, where customers can get their items mended or upgraded. 

The concept of renting out one’s wardrobe is hardly new: in the US, Rent the Runway, which launched in 2009, has been widely lauded as a game-changer. Closer to home, brands such as Designer-24, House of MC and The Mode cater to those who want to hire clothes in the UAE.

However, the concept behind clothing rental services was initially to provide very high-end clothes to customers at a fraction of the cost. That means paying for luxury outfits that would only be worn once or twice and then returned. But the last few years have seen a shift in the paradigm, with customers opting to rent rather than own, even when it comes to everyday wear. And businesses are rising to the demand. Rent the Runway has since introduced subscriptions for everyday wardrobe items. In the UK, Girl Meets Dress is a service that allows subscribers unlimited dress hires for £99 (Dh470).

And the big brands are listening, too. This year alone has seen Urban Outfitters, Macy’s, Banana Republic, American Eagle and Bloomingdale’s announce subscription services at varying costs.

This shift has largely been credited to demand from millennials (who are sometimes called Generation Rent), as well as Gen Z – it seems these age ranges prefer the flexibility that comes with renting over ownership. Perhaps this is because of increased awareness about the negative impact of fast fashion on the environment.

According to a recent United Nations study, “nearly 20 per cent of global waste water is produced by the fashion industry, which also emits about 10 per cent of global carbon emissions”. Maybe rent will become the fourth “R” in the environmental movement, alongside reuse, reduce and recycle.

With big labels also entering the rent market, customers may soon see a future that combines the thrill of wearing a new outfit every week, with the knowledge that their fresh fashion is more ethical.

Sure, there are still some kinks that need to be worked out – the environmental impact of constant delivery and return policies, and the chemicals used in the process of dry cleaning, for instance. But, for now, it looks like H&M has taken a step in the right direction.”


Something borrowed: should you rent your wedding dress?

Last Friday’s Evening Standard wrote about Girl Meets Dress as an alternative to buying a brand new wedding dress.  Read the full article below:

“As London’s first second-hand wedding dress shop opens in Fulham, Chloe Street asks, should we always say “I do” in something new?

It’s no secret now that overconsumption and waste in the fashion industry is destroying the planet.

Around £140 million worth of clothing is sent to landfill each year, while the value of unused clothing in wardrobes has been estimated at around £30 billion.

Responding to the crisis, a crop of second-hand clothing sites and dress rental platforms have launched with the intent of reducing consumption and prolonging the lifespan of clothing.

And yet the one item that most women still buy new (typically at significant expense), wear once and hold onto forever? Their wedding dress.

The reasons for this are largely sentimental (who wants to wear someone else’s wedding dress, right?) and also down to the fact that brides on a budget can now find myriad affordable options on the high street.

Yet given we are facing a climate emergency, might it be time to change the narrative around wedding dress ownership? Could there in fact be some magic in foregoing fast fashion options and instead wearing something fabulous and pre-loved on your big day?

Hamish Shephard, founder of leading wedding planning app Bridebook.co.uk, certainly thinks so. He predicts 2020 will be the year of the eco-wedding and expects a surge in brides choosing to rent their wedding dresses.

“We are definitely starting to see more of the 100,000 brides currently using our app around the world searching for wedding dress rental companies. There is a clear appetite, but with so many affordable wedding dresses out there for them too it’s a slow transition,” says Shephard.

“After Princess Eugenie’s plastic-free wedding late last year, we are seeing a lot of couples finding ways to make their wedding more green and renting wedding dresses is just one of the many ways we see traditional habits changing.”

For Anna Bance, founder of dress rental platform Girl Meets Dress, which has had a wedding dress category on the site since it launched back in 2009, weddings are “big business,” with brides, bridesmaids, wedding guests and mothers of both the bride and groom using the service.

“Our millennial customers especially prove an anti-materialism shift, and don’t want to carry the load of owning more things, including their wedding dress,” says Bance. “They want the quality of luxury, but their relatively lower incomes compared to older generations have put luxury goods largely out-of-bounds. So they’ve turned toward rental as well as pre-owned luxury goods to satisfy their need. They also tend to live in urban areas, where space and storage is at a premium.” 

Bance says some brides rent on Girl Meets Dress “because it means they can wear a high end brand that otherwise would be over their budget. Other brides renting for their wedding are already high spenders at Net a Porter or Harvey Nichols, with wardrobes full of expensive clothing. But they use Girl Meets Dress for convenience, for variety and for the sustainability angle.”  

For eco brides that prefer to own not rent their dress, a pre-loved purchase is an excellent option.

Brides do Good is a sustainable wedding dress shop (London’s first) that opened in Fulham last month. It sells new, sample, and pre-loved designer wedding gowns from 61 leading international wedding gown designers, including Vera Wang, Charlie Brear, Caroline Castigliano, Temperley, and Pronovias. The stock is a combination of donations of out of season styles from bridal retailers and designers, and also wedding dresses donated by past brides.

Not only are the gowns, which range from sizes 4-30, significantly more affordable than if you were to buy them new, but Brides do Good also donate 100 per cent of their £30 appointment fees and up to two thirds of sale profits to charity projects which empower young girls, educate communities and strive to end child marriage, so there’s even more to feel good about when buying your dress of dreams.

“Brides do Good is so much more than a wedding boutique. We are a movement that connects women from all over the world, harnessing the power of the bridal industry to create long-term change,” says founder Chantal Khoueiry. “Every dress that is donated, bought or sold takes us one step closer to ending child marriage, by empowering vulnerable young girls and educating communities around the world.”

For some, nothing will compare to saying “I do” in something new, but for those open to something borrowed, there’s an increasingly attractive array of sustainable alternatives.

“Of course there are women who would rather own their wedding dress and keep it forever to pass onto daughters etc. But it is about having greater options,” says Bance. “We want women to rethink how they build a wardrobe around smarter choices.”


Dress rental dominated the British Fashion Awards red carpet

 

KAREN DACRE wrote a piece in the Evening Standard yesterday about the number of celebrities on the night promoting the use of fashion renting.
Read the article below:
“Certainly, the British Fashion Council’s all-singing-all-dancing Albert Hall shindig — traditionally held on the first Monday in December — has long served as a precursor to a month of seasons and, as a trend prompter, with the most indelible looks of the night considered beacons of inspiration for those planning their Christmas party ensembles.

It is particularly cheering, then, that the takeaway message from last night’s bash wasn’t about a new flash-in-the-pan trend, but about the new-found appeal of clothes that cost (almost) no money at all — with a host of red-carpet regulars looking to rental services to kit them out for the occasion. This idea succeeded in making its presence felt in amongst the excess, with borrowed gowns peppering the room like beacons of hope pointing to a less wasteful age.
High-profile borrowers included model Arizona Muse, who wore a stark white tuxedo by sustainable fashion label Deck, and Lady Mary Charteris, in a pre-loved gown by Giambattista Valli. They were joined by a further 80 influencers, recruited by a luxury borrowing site to sidestep something new in favour of something sustainable.
The development was staged by My Wardrobe HQ, the designer rental service that is currently undergoing a transformation under high-street retail superwoman turned sustainability pro Jane Shepherdson. It marks something of a sea change for the British fashion industry, which has for so long considered the notions of newness and cutting-edge style to be inseparable ideas.

While the borrowing culture has long served as big business in New York it has never really found its groove on this side of the Atlantic, with most Londoners just as keen to own the content of their wardrobes as they are their homes. The most memorable looks in the room last night were proof that opinions are shifting, with more and more of us happy to borrow from back catalogues — or archives, as they are known in the trade — than to seek out newness at any cost.

Undoubtedly, there is real beauty in clothes with a story to tell — a point exemplified by Bollywood sensation Amy Jackson, who made her presence felt last wearing a dress by Hardy Amies previously owned by our absent woman of the year, Princess Margaret.”


British Fashion Awards 2019 – Girl Meets Dress

On Monday night The British Fashion Awards 2019 took place at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Girl Meets Dress founder Anna wore this Marchesa gown from the website, available to rent now.

To hire this dress to your next event, click here and select your size and event date >

Anna was attending with a larger group championing fashion circularity and rental in the fashion industry with MyWardrobe HQ.

Anna Bance British Fashion Awards 2019

Fashion Awards Girl Meets Dress Rental

Rental at Fashion Awards 2019

 

 

 

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