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How rental companies are changing the fashion landscape

Tuesday, May 19, 2020
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In the age of disruption, no industry is safe. As innovative businesses find ways to rattle industries that have remained unchanged for decades, one of the most accute examples of disruption is the emergence of rental companies in the fashion industry.

In 2019, Rent the Runway was named the #5 most disruptive company in the world by CNBC. As the first-to-market fashion rental company, they changed the way that consumers think about their wardrobe and tapped into a surprising, but widespread sentiment: Consumers want to own their style, not their wardrobe.

This realization was supported by the rise of Instagram culture and the scrutinizing of unsustainable fashion practices, both of which have come into focus as rental company options exploded over the past few years.

The Instagram Effect

As it becomes a faux pas to be photographed in an outfit twice (with the image subsequently shared across multiple social media platforms with hundreds or thousands of followers), gone are the days of wearing the same cocktail dress to a graduation and wedding in the same season. The inevitable conclusion is that consumers who attend special events, participate in work activities, take a vacation or go anywhere photos are taken, have seen the value in fashion rental companies.

“For someone who doesn’t like to repeat outfits often, or has a lot of events to attend, this concept will save you a TON of money,” said one Trustpilot reviewer of FashionPass, a fashion rental company that is described by its founder as a rental company for “The girl that’s living on Instagram.”

Another reviewer expressed “I originally signed up since I was getting married and had a lot of events coming up that I didn't want to buy a ton of outfits I would wear just once.”

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The Sustainability Factor

The quick adoption of fashion rental practices also highlighted another hot topic in the fashion industry: sustainability. Behaving responsibly is one of the most discussed issues as companies assess how they can revamp their supply chains, reuse and recycle materials, and minimize the use of polluting chemicals.

On the consumer side, when fashionistas have asked “How can I keep on top of current trends without contributing to textile waste?” Fashion rental companies have provided a natural solution.

“I’ve always been an avid fashion lover, but after realizing how often I buy pieces that I so easily get bored of, I needed to find a more sustainable option,” said a Trustpilot reviewer.

The US discards about 21 billion pounds of textile waste to landfills each year. In the UK, about 350,000 tonnes of clothing goes into landfills annually. Fashion rental companies allow the consumer to do fewer closet cleanouts and, for many, it’s a try-before-you-buy model which reduces impulse buying and, by extension, textile waste.

As mainstream fashion brands continue to launch rental services, more options are available that satisfy consumers’ rapidly increasing style needs, while exercising more conscious consumption.

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Fashion Rental Reviews Matter

From the brand new DVFLink by Diane Von Furstenburg, which offers many versions of her signature wrap dress and day-to-night pieces with splashy prints, to New York & Company Closet, where you can find a mix of the company’s business formal look, along with “weekend casual” options, the fashion rental options continue to grow. Even menswear is participating with the entry of companies like The Mr. Collection and ThreadTread.

With an increase in options, reviews of fashion rental companies are more important than ever. Reviews will play an important role in helping fashion lovers both distinguish which companies align with their style and values, and also provide a genuinely good service.

For example, while most rental companies can confidently claim they’re doing their part to reduce textile waste, which are working to mitigate carbon emissions from shipping and dry cleaning? For those whose main concern is having a constantly rotating wardrobe, which companies have endless options for an après ski moment, and which are constantly out of stock of desirable evening wear during wedding season? Discerning consumers can help unearth these important truths about fashion rental companies in the reviews they leave on Trustpilot.

As we continue to see growth in this once niche, but increasingly mainstream, category, rental companies will continue to thrive. However, they will also continue to be challenged by consumers who want to marry their need for immediate style satisfaction with their desire to improve the overall sustainability narrative in the fashion industry.

It also begs the question of ownership: if we own our style, but not our wardrobe, what other burdens can the rental economy free us from?

Trustpilot is a review platform that is open to all. The companies and profile pages referenced in this article are provided for informational purposes only and are not recommended, endorsed by, or representative of the views of Trustpilot. The Trustpilot companies linked in this post are expected to abide by Trustpilot’s Guidelines, but have not been reviewed for compliance.

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