Why ‘thanks, I rented it’ is the ultimate eco fashion brag | Jess Cartner-Morley

Why ‘thanks, I rented it’ is the ultimate eco fashion brag  | Jess Cartner-Morley

From handbags to dresses, hiring clothes and accessories for a special occasion is hot right now – and can save you a fortune

Backstage after one of the London fashion week shows, I complimented the editor of a glossy magazine on the trouser suit she was wearing. She thanked me, and added – raising her voice a notch, glancing around – “It’s rented, actually.” Then she said that my dress was very pretty, too. To which I was, thankfully, able to respond – while possibly raising my voice just a smidgen – “This is rented, too.”

Rental is hotter than Balenciaga right now. “Thanks, I rented it” is the ultimate front row flex. After wearing the same clothes for so long, I wanted to wear something new for the first real-life London fashion week in ages, so I rented three dresses from My Wardrobe: a long, loose Ganni wrap dress; a graphic-print midi-length day dress by Victoria Beckham; and a floor-length evening column with dramatic fringed sleeves. The cost was between £6 and £24 per day, per dress. My craving for fashion was satisfied – and I was way more on trend than I’d have been after a shopping spree.

A Circular Fashion Ecosystem Report [PDF] commissioned by the British Fashion Council, which surveyed the habits of high-intensity shoppers – those who buy two or more pieces a month – found that 37% are already renting clothes as well as buying. This trend is about environmental values but it is also about habits. Spotify subscriptions have replaced stacks of CDs; Netflix has killed the DVD. Having lots of stuff is kind of over.

Rental is not a get-out-of-jail-free card for fashion. Transportation of clothes, and the cleaning process, both entail carbon emissions. If you drive 10 miles to pick up a pair of jeans, drive home, wear them once, dry-clean them and then do the same journey, you’re not doing the planet any favours. But some rental companies use cycle couriers or electric vans. And almost all undertake wet-washing or liquid CO2 cleaning rather than dry cleaning.

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