Why British Women Are Spending Thousands Renting Clothes In Lockdown
In decades past, sustainable fashion was a hard sell.
Those truly dedicated to the cause might spending hours trawling the high street, hunting for diamonds in charity shops’ rough, and get lucky with an item they might buy on taste alone, but the options were limited.
These days, the options are limitless.
From luxury eco-conscious labels to the exponential growth in resale apps, sustainable fashion is having A Moment. Primarily, the fashion rental platforms allowing women to rent and return designer clothes at a fraction of the cost, rather than filling landfills with one-and-done impulse buys.
While UK government figures suggest clothes sales plummeted by 25% in 2020—the biggest drop in the 23 years since records began—fashion rental platforms have flourished.
HURR, one of the UK’s first peer-to-peer clothing rental platforms, saw 850% year-on-year growth from the start of the pandemic, and By Rotation saw a 600% increase in rentals since the beginning of November, despite the country being in its third national lockdown.
Nga Nguyen (pictured above), 28, from London, has lost track of how much she’s spent renting clothes via Front Row over the last twelves months.
“I like keeping up-to-date with the latest fashion trends and collections and love to experiment with different styles. I tend to get bored very easily and often wear outfits once, therefore rental is the way to go,” she admits.
“The pandemic was eye-opening as I spent the majority of time in my loungewear, I decided to rent out my clothes through Front Row—it's a win-win. I can continue to keep updating my wardrobe whilst renting them out to fellow fashion lovers, getting more wear out of them.”
“In the past few years, through a greater understanding of the ‘true cost’ of the fashion industry, I have become hugely mindful of everything I buy,” says fellow rental aficionado Emily Wade, 26, from Newcastle. “I rarely buy new clothes and I only ever buy staple pieces or items that I know I am going to wear again and again—the rest, I rent.”
In the last year, she has spent over £1,000 ($1,400) renting clothes via Hirestreet.
“I have found renting and dressing up for even the smallest of occasions has really lifted my mood, so haven’t been a stranger to turning a casual Friday night dinner in the house into a glamorous one,” she says. “Usually, with more events to go to, I would rent even more.”
“I believe that rental is the future of fashion”, says Apeksha Shivnani Shah, 28, from London. “The pandemic has been a huge wake up call. It has forced fashion into a sustainable future. I’ve realised that I can live with less and that I don’t need to buy new things every week.
“I think many of us have also moved towards a more slow fashion approach after realizing the devastating environmental consequences of fast fashion. “
Instead, she has spent roughly £5,000 ($7,000 USD) renting clothes via Front Row throughout the pandemic.
“I used the pandemic to declutter my wardrobe, and realized I hadn’t worn 40% of my clothes, which is such a waste of money. Now, whenever I need something, I’m more weary of this fact and prefer a platform like Front Row where I rent the latest classic trends and not spend a bomb.”
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