Clothing rental: why buy when you can rent? The trend towards renting your outfit of the day.
The popularity of social media has made it easier for fashion brands to show off their new collections and even easier for customers to purchase these items and share their purchases with other users. This has become extremely popular among celebrities who tag their outfits and provide their followers with direct links to brand websites.
Unsurprisingly, negative impacts are associated with the rise of social media and the fashion industry. The popular Instagram hashtag #ootd (outfit of the day) encourages users to post the outfit they chose to wear that day. The problem? Many users or influencers don’t want to be photographed wearing the same outfit twice. So they purchase an outfit, snap a photo, and send it back to the company in a trend called snap-and-send-back. With the rise of this trend, some fast fashion companies have allowed customers who ordered clothing from their websites to try the clothing before buying, making it easier to order clothes without committing to the purchase.
What’s the issue with this? Returning clothing has a high environmental impact. Less than half of the returned items can be resold at full price, and many companies don’t have the capacity to sort, investigate, and repackage returns. In the best case, the returns might be sold to liquidation companies or secondhand markets in low-income countries. However, many of the returns are destroyed by brands and sent to the landfill. For many fast-fashion companies, processing returns is more expensive than making new products. As you can imagine, they tend to choose the latter.
Renting your outfit of the day can make your outfit less damaging to the planet. Many higher-end brands are allowing customers to rent some of their designs. Social media users can snap their outfits of the day on their channels and then return the item, knowing that it will get cleaned and put back up for rent. It is a sustainable alternative to overbuying and returning purchased products.
Companies, like Rent the Runway (or Beyond the Runway in Canada) offer subscription services for customers to rent one or more items for a certain period of time. The items for rent vary from hundreds (even thousands) of designers for various occasions. The rental service allows people to try different brands and styles without committing to them and then having them sit in their closets unused after taking the “perfect picture.” Some rental companies also provide the option of purchasing rented items if the customers find something that they really love.
The environmental benefits of renting your outfit of the day are numerous. They include:
- Reducing production demands of producing new garments. Renting your outfit of the day lessens the need for raw materials, energy, and water.
- It generates less textile waste and encourages longer garment lifespans. It also reduces the likelihood of items being thrown after only a few uses. Rented clothes are reused to their fullest potential before being recycled or repurposed.
- Some brands also prioritize creating clothing with sustainable materials and ethical production practices, encouraging environmentally conscious fashion choices.
Social media, influencers, and outfits of the day are not likely to disappear any time soon. But if we can change the way of thinking from buying fast fashion clothing to renting clothing from reputable brands, this can significantly impact the environment. And if the outfit of the day is such an important trend, why not rent it? It’s the same thing as returning an item, except you know that the item will be washed, pressed and put back on the rack for someone else to try. By renting your outfit of the day, we can reduce waste, one outfit at a time.