Clothing rental services are becoming even more popular, and services such as Rent the Runway and Nuuly have taken the fashion industry by storm.
We already know that the fashion industry is one of the biggest villains when it comes to overproduction and population. However, consumers’ demands for more sustainable fashion options are rising, and as if by magic all of a sudden clothing rental services seem to have popped up everywhere.
FIND WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR
Maybe you are here beacuse you have heard about fashion renting and want to learn more about how it works, or maybe you have some prejudice you would like to either confirm or deny.
No matter the reason you clicked on this article I can guarantee you will get the grand tour around the concept of online clothing rental, including how it works, some pros and cons, and a couple of suggestions for where to rent your clothes.
So without further ado let’s get right to it.
What is clothing rental?
Clothing rental is actually exactly what it sounds like. It is renting clothes instead of buying them. For how long you can rent an item depends on the service. But is usually between a week and a month.
Clothing rental allows you to rent one or several items for an event, party, or just as a temporary part of your wardrobe.
On some platforms, you can rent directly from the rental service, which has plenty of brands, and other platforms let you rent directly from other people. Often the platform is built around categories, brands, events, or styles, which makes it easy for you to find the exact item you are looking for that fits your budget and needs.
The clothing rental services let you rent one or multiple pieces for a varying amount of time. Each rental service is different, and it also depends on whether you are joining a monthly membership subscription or only wants to rent the item for a special occasion.
So basically joining the services memberships is like having an (almost) infinite virtual closet you can choose from each month.
The price of the services and the styles and brands they have varies. Some specialize in luxury fashion, others specialize in plus-size, workwear, or maternity clothes. There are a ton of options out there, and there is definitely a clothing rental option that fits your style and needs as well.
You can view our favorite fashion rental services here
Is clothing rental sustainable?
“Fashions biggest environmental crime lies in overproduction”. Those words wear written in ELLE and it is as true as it gets. The textile industry is responsible for around 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. That is a lot. Overproduction is a big part of this high number.
But why is overproduction happening? Because the brands know the consumers want to buy clothes, a LOT of clothes, in order to stay aligned with the newest trend. You probably also have some clothes hanging in the back of your closet you’ve never really used, but you bought them beacuse it was a must-have item at the time.
With clothing rental, you are avoiding jumping in the newest trend and buying clothes from a fast-fashion store you never really wear. The way that fashion rental services lets consumers cut down on their shopping habits is what makes it sustainable.
Instead of buying new clothes all the time you end up throwing out or never really wear you can rent them instead. The same goes for outfits for special occasions such as weddings or other celebrations. This way clothing rental sites help cut down on overconsumption.
Why is clothing rental services sustainable?
Overproduction and consumption have now become a natural part of our picture of the fashion industry. During the last 15 years, the global consumption and production of clothes have doubled. And it seems like this tendency is only going in one direction – up.
Shopping is now not only reserved for special occasions or when you actually need something. It has become something we do for fun, and we do it often. This has severe consequences for the environment, as well as people and animals.
It might sound like we are close to doomsday when it’s put like this. But this is where clothing rentals come in. Or maybe we should say this is where sustainable and slow fashion comes in.
Cause most of the fashion rental services claim to be a sustainable option that will help you create a conscious wardrobe. So why are clothing rental firms sustainable?
Well, you can look at it this way, instead of thousand people buying the same dress in a store you all share it instead. Just like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants! Instead of buying new clothes, the services want you to rent everything instead.
That will hopefully help cut down on overconsumption and production, which in the end will lead to more sustainable fashion industry and a happier planet. And that is why fashion rental services can be seen as sustainable.
The sustainable downsides of renting you clothes
Even though there are a lot of benefits associated with clothing rental seen from a sustainable fashion perspective, there are also some downsides worth paying attention to.
1. One of the sustainable downsides of fashion rental services is that the boxes used for shipping the rental clothes have a shockingly low recycling rate. The rental clothes often arrive wrapped in either plastic or something else, which isn’t recycled either. On top of that just think about how much emission shipping all those clothes back and forth is costing the environment. Not exactly the most sustainable practice…
2. Secondly, a lot of the rental services still try to follow fashion trends in order to keep their customers happy. We already know the fashion industry’s biggest problem is overproduction. And by following the newest trends the services are partly taking part in creating this problem. This practice could also increase your appetite for new clothes.
3. Thirdly, at most clothing rental services free laundry and dry cleaning is part of the price. All items are being sent to professional drycleaning after use, and while it is nice knowing you are renting clean clothes.
But we know that the way we clean our clothes has a major impact on the environment. What’s more, is that dry cleaning requires more energy than doing laundry at home. Another scratch in the paint when it comes to sustainability.
These are some of the sustainable downsides of rental fashion. Of course, there are downsides to everything, and it is almost impossible to have a truly sustainable wardrobe if you want new clothes each month. But these are some of the things to take into consideration before purchasing a monthly clothing rental membership.
Is renting clothes better than buying?
As described above clothing rental services is not solemnly a sustainable practice. There are downsides as well. So the short answer to whether it is better to rent clothes than buying them would be it depends.
If you are one of those people who rarely buy new clothes (and by rarely I mean a couple of times a year) and only buy vintage or from sustainable brands, a monthly membership at a fashion rental service probably isn’t better than buying.
Renting an outfit for a special occasion you know you might only wear that one time is better than buying it though.
But if you tend to buy a lot of clothes you hardly ever wear, or tend to shop for clothes in fast fashion chains, renting clothes is the better choice. If you are always trying to keep up with the latest trends like most of the world’s population renting clothes is better than buying them. Cause let’s be honest, how many times have you actually worn all those fast-fashion items hanging in the back of your closet?
All in all, it really depends on your shopping habits whether renting clothes is better than buying. If you want to invest in one sustainable high-quality piece it is probably better to buy it instead of renting 4 new pieces each month.
But if you tend to follow new trends, go crazy at sales, or just like to add new styles to your wardrobe each month clothing rental would probably be the more conscious choice.
Is clothing rental worth it?
Maybe you have some prejudice about clothing rental, or maybe you doubt it would actually make a difference – both for the environment and your economy.
Maybe you are hesitant beacuse questions such as “would the clothes be clean”, “would it save me money” or “how would the clothes fit” keeps popping up in your mind. But mostly those concerns will never be confirmed.
One of the greatest advantages of renting clothes is that you get to try a huge variety of new styles and brands without you buying a lot of styles you only wear e few times. By using clothing rental you suddenly have a huge “closet” without having to buy fast fashion.
And if you find a renting piece you can’t live without many of the websites have a buying option as well, that allows you to purchase your favorite items.
All in all clothing rental is worth it if you like refreshing your wardrobe but don’t want to spend all your money on it. It is also worth it if you want to make a more sustainable choice and are trying to stop buying new clothes. By renting your clothes instead, you still get new items added to your wardrobe while you are making a more sustainable choice.
How to rent clothes online
Renting clothes is as easy as renting a bike, a car, etc. The concept is simple:
- You choose the piece of clothes you want to rent.
- You select the amount of time you want to rent the item for (could be one week)
- You pay the rental price
- you wear it for the period you have chosen to rent the clothes for.
- You return it. No need to wash or dry-clean it cause the service does that for you.
It is as simple as that. Of course, the how-to guide may differ from renting-site to renting-site. Some places may only offer a monthly subscription, where you will have to become a member before you can access the unlimited renting closet.
None of these options are necessarily better than the other, so it depends on what you are looking for, at what you find most fitting for you. If you are trying to cut down on shopping in general a monthly membership where you will receive “new” clothes each month may just be what you are looking for.
If you on the other hand are looking for an outfit for a special event the other option might be what fits your needs the best.
Places you can rent clothes
There are a ton of places you can rent clothes online and new ones seem to be popping up all the time. That means you also have a lot of different options when it comes to style, price, size range, and so on. I have listed some of the most popular ones down beloved which have some amazing clothes and services.
Rent the Runway
If you are looking for a place where you can rent thousands of different items of designer clothes. Here you will find everything from wedding clothes, party clothes, vacation items, workwear, and much more. You can both find items through the categories or just by searching for the item you are looking for.
At Rent the Runway you can choose whether you want to join the monthly membership options or whether you just want to use the one-time rentals option. You can choose between three different monthly memberships that differ in price and the number of clothes you can rent each month.
Check out their website here
Nuuly is a membership-based service where you subscribe and rent any 6 styles you want, every month, for 88$. Free shipping and returns are included in the price, and you can pause or cancel your membership anytime. Nuuly has a LOT of different brands such as Zadig & Voltaire, Urban Outfitters, Levi’s, Free People, Yumi Kim, Citizens of Humanity, AG Denim, and much more.
Check out the clothing rental site here
At Armoire your clothing rental journey starts with you taking a style quiz test, so the people behind the brand can find the items most suited for you. The clothes arrive beautifully wrapped and look and feel very clean and fresh. They have a wide variety of clothes and they offer maternity clothes to rent as well.
In general, the styles might feel a bit more age-appropriate for some, so if you arent looking for crop-tops and short flower dresses this service might be for you. The packages arrive with your rental clothes within the week, and you are able to select new items before your old ones are returned.
You can learn more about the service here
Have you ever dreamed about having a pair of Louboutin shoes or a channel bag hanging in your closet? Well, Style Lend actually allows that dream to come true pretty easily. At Style Lend, you can browse through thousands of unique designer items hand-selected from the most stylish closets.
That means you rent clothes from other people’s closets – but, of course, these closets are only the most stylish ones out there. You can also rent out your own clothes at Style Lend, but for that, you need to be approved by the service.
Check out the clothes renting service here