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Why fashion rental is the coolest way to dress right now

Fashion rental site My Wardrobe HQ launches at Liberty London

This week, Liberty London opened its doors to a fashion rental pop-up, marking a retail first for the iconic London department store and a landmark statement about the future of how we will consume fashion.

The pop-up, brought to you by the team behind luxury rental site My Wardrobe HQ, is a specially curated edit of eventwear featuring brands such as Alexander McQueen, Christopher Kane, Celine, Prada and Victoria Beckham, to name a few. With prices ranging from £12 a day for an Alexander McQueen mini dress to £42 for a layered Stella McCartney dress. You also have the option of buying the piece outright, for a considerable mark-down from the RRP.

Luxury brands are available to rent at Liberty for the first time

Co-founder & CEO of My Wardrobe HQ, Sacha Newall, said: “We are delighted Liberty London is joining us to be a disruptor and a revolutionary when it comes to sustainable fashion. My Wardrobe HQ is symbolic of how the fashion industry is changing and Liberty London recognised this first! The millennial has the mindset of ‘no ownership’, purchasing and sharing clothing is a great way for anyone to explore fashion this way.”

My Wardrobe HQ, how fashion rental became cool

What’s in it for consumers? Sacha said renters can tap designers which they may have otherwise been unable to afford due to the low rental prices, while also exposing them to emerging designers they might not have heard of.

My Wardrobe HQ recently appointed Jane Shepherdson to the role of chairwoman – the woman with the midas touch, when it comes to fashion. She was the force behind Topshop’s meteoric rise in the noughties, turning it from a £9m profit company to a £110m profit business in the space of six years. She subsequently bought the Whistles brand and relaunched it as a high street stalwart. Jane has always had her finger on the pulse in terms of what is cool and what will be cool.

Jane told FashionBite exclusively: “I was working independently on a clothing rental platform, when I was approached by Sacha and Tina, who convinced me in less than an hour, that if rental was going to become successful in this country, it would be through their platform. They had created a logistics solution that made rental scalable easily, and were such a compelling team, it was impossible to resist.

“It feels as if people are just becoming aware of the environmental damage that fashion is doing to the planet, and therefore are looking for ways to maintain the enjoyment of fashion, but at a lower environmental cost. My epiphany came a couple of years ago, when I realised that I was feeling guilty whenever I went shopping, and that the enjoyment had gone. Rental brings back the joy,” she added.

Why luxury fashion rental is here to stay

Since US-pioneer Rent the Runway’s launch in 2009, clothing rental has become a huge trend in America, with the site hitting a billion-dollar valuation in March last year and over 9 million subscribers.

US rental fashion pioneer, Rent the Runway

The global online clothing rental market is expected to grow at an annual rate of nearly 11% between 2018-2023 and unsurprisingly UK businesses [and consumers] are keen to tap into this lucrative and cool, new fashion sector.

Rental Fashion: why now?

The consumer zeitgeist is shifting in terms of how we consume fashion and its impact on the planet, which are now big considerations for generation Z. Beautifully, well-made fashion can last generations and there is no need to own something outright if you’re only planning to wear it once or twice. 

Fashion industry bible Drapers said: “As consumers spend more on events and holidays, and less on the outfits they wear to them, renting becomes an affordable way to still have a fresh look for all occasions.

“The so-called sharing economy – exemplified by short-term let service Airbnb and music streaming platform Spotify – has made ownership less of a necessity for millennials and generation Z, who value experiences over possessions.”

With hashtags, such as #rentalrevolution, My Wardrobe HQ is looking to pave the way in terms of luxury fashion rental in the UK, tapping into the Instagram [and green-loving] generation who want to be seen in the latest piece. 

FashionBite Opinion

“The key to My Wardrobe HQ’s success is the product curation, which is spot-on. I am excited browsing the site and it creates desire, which is how you should feel from a shopping experience (whether renting or buying). The pay-per-day price breakdown is also very clever, making you feel as if you’re getting a bargain to boot.”

7 places to rent fashion in the UK

  • By Rotation, describing itself as ‘the UK’s first peer-to-peer fashion rental app.’
  • Front Row, describing itself as ‘a luxury and designer rentals company in London, UK. We offer designer dresses, evening gowns, celebrity dresses, designer bags and accessories.’
Luxury and designer rentals at Front Row
  • HURR, describing itself as ‘the smart way to rent your wardrobe, on-demand. The UK’s leading wardrobe rental platform allows members to share clothes and accessories.’
  • The Endless Wardrobe, describing itself as the place to ‘hire designer dresses and clothes from high-street brands at a fraction of the retail price.’
  • Onloan, describing itself as the place to ‘loan great clothes from the best contemporary designers, for work and the weekend. Rent from Onloan to try new styles and discover new brands.’
  • Cocoon club, describing itself as ‘a London-based monthly subscription service for handbag lovers. ‘
Luxury rental site for bag lovers
  • Hirestreet, describing itself ‘the UK’s leading online fashion rental platform. Rent dresses, jumpsuits, playsuits and co-ords from your favourite brands.’
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2 Comments

  1. Oliver Pickup says:

    I love this piece. That Liberty has a fashion rental pop-up (hopefully) shows the handbrake against fast fashion is being pulled.

    Consider the fast fashion industry produces around 1 billion garments every year, generates profits of approximately $1bn per annum – but at what cost to humanity? Production at this scale is pushing our natural systems to the absolute limit.

    The fast fashion industry emits 1.2bn tons of CO2 equivalent per year – about 5 per cent of global emissions (more than the emissions created by air travel and international shipping), making it second only to oil as the world’s largest polluter. Further, the fast fashion industry is responsible for producing 20 per cent of global wastewater, resulting in the contamination of rivers, oceans, freshwater sources, and soil.

    The social costs are equally high: unsafe working conditions are common, and factory workers often work extremely long hours with minimal pay. The implications of fast fashion are widely known, yet consumers continue to buy in mass. Thankfully, innovations combating fast fashion are starting to shift consumer habits.

    • Emily Seares says:

      There’s something that feels incredibly wrong about an industry that has relied so heavily on mass over-consumption and waste. But we should also be careful not to demonise ‘fast fashion’ as that can also mean affordable clothing for a lot of families. There needs to a seismic shift in the way we view clothing, from every angle- advertising, production, consumption. It was our grandparents generation that would darn and sew to make sure an item of clothing had the longest possible life. What happened to this? Also clothing that can be passed down from generation to generation? Throwaway fashion lasts a few wash cycles if you’re lucky. It’s so wasteful.

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