Friday 23, Oct 2020, Delhi (India)
The rental clothing service holds the capacity to solve a lot of problems faced by mid-market retailers – including millennial “wardrobing.” In the time where fashion trends transform in seconds and people highly live their lives on social media, consumers have a “one and done” approach to outfits. The camera has created a tendency where consumers want to adorn a look single time and then move on to the next. The fashion brands and mid-range retailers are today helping the shoppers look good in selfies and on social media.
Now with the outbreak of COVID-19, the world is worried, and considering it to be an avenge of Mother Nature, overconsumption and the disposal of unwanted clothing has become a worrying global problem, in numerous cases, clothes are unnecessarily thrown away when it could be repaired or recycled. But post-COVID leasing in fashion will be considered as an innovative business model, read on further to know-how.
Over the last few years, fashion rental modal has popped up to tempt every conceivable type of consumer globally. With years clothes that sit in the back of the closet were unsuccessful in adding value to our lives. They in-fact contributed to excessive amounts of waste pollution. It’s speculated that American consumers alone generate nearly 254 million tons of waste per year, and basically, much of this waste is due to the fashion industry. All these factors transformed the shopping philosophy, consumers looked forward to investing in long-term staples, ethically-made pieces, and clothing they could wear for years. All of these factors led to the birth of renting culture in the fashion industry, consumers started by renting instead of buying, and by lending instead of discarding. Fashion rental got on the rise and not just for event wear, the environmentally conscious and cash savvy consumers increasingly opted to rent rather than buy when they wanted a new outfit but the question arises when did this culture exactly rise in the country?
We’re the ‘Generation Rent’, the renting figures trebled since the 1990s, as long gone were the days of owning CD’s and DVD’s, people preferred ‘renting’ entertainment. The same concept was coveted for the wardrobes since the 1990s. With the environmental crisis, the demand for ethical clothing increased exponentially, with 66% more searches for ‘sustainable fashion’ occurring since 2018.
The multibillion-dollar, Indian fashion industry, holds major Indian and western-wear players dominating the market. In the past, as the consumers became more price and environment conscious, most people preferred to not have exorbitantly expensive outfits and moved towards picking more easy-to-wear pieces that they could wear multiple times. Renting culture became a hit in the Indian market as expensive clothes and accessories were no longer fantasies beyond the reach of the millennials as more and more players successfully set up shops in the online clothes and accessories rental space.
It is speculated that in India, by 2025, many areas of the sharing economy will rival the size of their traditional counterparts. Apart from categories like real estate, furniture, automobiles, etc., the clothing and accessories segment is taking up the rental market by storm, and it’s perfect for people who cannot afford luxury brands but do appreciate the intricacies and quality. According to speculated data, online clothing rental market size is to reach USD 1,856 million by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 10.6% from 2017-2023. And this is expected to grow at a much faster rate in India. The rental fashion market in the country, pegged at USD 3-4 billion and has been expanding continuously with several existing key players as well as start-ups like Flyrobe, Rent it Bae, Stage3, The Clothing Rental, LibeRent, among others, which are also attracting seed funds.
In the past few years renting clothes and accessories have become more and more popular. It’s hard to believe but especially millennials are big supporters of this trend, they are 3 times more likely to use a rental service for clothes than non-millennials. There are numerous reasons for this behavior-
The financial crisis makes it impossible for people to afford to buy designer clothes. This is exactly how the clothing rental trend began in the country. Instead of buying millennials preferred renting, they considered renting and secondhand buying as sustainable and economically beneficial.
This practice led to a constant trading happening, as buying used clothes made it easier to resell them instead of throwing them out when they were not liked anymore.
The millennial embraces renting rather than owning and some traditional major retailers took notice.
Fashion brands provided online rental subscription services for clothing and accessories, which meant consumers could now get dressed using a virtual, rotating closet through several start-ups.
Fashion brands also rented clothing for everyday wear, they even send users items based on personal style.
Some fashion brand start-ups charge a monthly fee and allow users to wear the clothing for a month, or sometimes an unlimited amount of time. The costumers return the clothing without paying shipping or dry-cleaning costs.
The rental fashion brands provide the millennials to have access to thousands of products, more than they would usually be able to afford, at a fixed monthly rate. It gives them more value and more choice at a lower price.
With time the stigma of ‘old’ or ‘used’ was replaced by ‘vintage’ or ‘authentic.’ The benefits of renting became more clear for clothes, consumers only wear once, like wedding attire, or only for a short term, like maternity clothing or adventure gear. Rental became acceptable as consumers made more fashion-forward choices, knowing that they only need to wear the item a couple of times, and can then return it.
Innovation and environmental consciousness also played a major role in transforming people’s psychology towards rental in fashion, fashion brands initiated launching resale or rental models. The market grew for the rentals as many early adopters saw very clearly the commercial opportunities that resale and rental could offer them.
The advent of e-commerce and social media has opened doors to different ways of doing business and for consumers to accept and try these innovative models. After the emergence of formats like mobile commerce, hyperlocal apps, dark stores, etc. the online retail vertical has now moved towards the moto of renting. As consumers were not anymore avoiding secondary shopping options such as renting or buying second-hand products. Millennial consumers became more open to such options as it saves not just money, but also time. They considered renting a smarter and economical shopping alternate and a sartorial reflection of a busy social calendar.
Social media has changed the dynamics of the world so rapidly and led to the rise of mobiles, networking online, and data analytics. Social media played a huge role in driving increased trust in commerce so much that Amazon is one of the fastest-growing companies in the world. Renting is now prominent and as the millennial generation wants everything at the click of a button without actually having to make a long-term commitment with it. It’s speculated that renting clothes will soon be a big sharing economy owing to the changing patterns and massive social media usage. Social media and e-commerce provided the young consumers who are looking for immediate access at affordable prices which fills their need to not have to worry about repetitive clothing or the income size with the incredible option of renting. Social media changed the mindset and encouraged youngsters to make wiser investments, which made them feel that they can use all the money for a vacation and instead of buying expensive outfits that they will only wear once. In India people already believed that utilizing the money in buying gold or any permanent asset is way better than incurring the gigantic spend on wedding outfits which will just be worn once and social media made it easier for them as online renting became popular.
Trying out the latest fashion trends without destroying the planet is a big part of the allure. All of us are aware of the fact that buying fast fashion, is notorious for its water pollution, labor abuses, and textile waste. But over the years fashion industry analysts clocked as a bid to appeal to conscious consumers and gave rise to renting clothes. There’s always been a debate about how sustainable renting fashion is, the following are some points to look into-
Every cloth rented must be returned, which means the shipping impact of leasing your wardrobe could be neck-and-neck with that of a fast-fashion shopper. Transportation is the major source of carbon dioxide emissions, and online shopping is partly to blame. According to speculated calculations, an item ordered online and then returned can emit 20 kilograms of carbon each way and spirals up to 50 kilograms for rush shipping.
The other major point is most rental services ship in cardboard boxes, which have a shockingly low recycling rate. Mostly returns are sent back in a plastic bag. But if the bags are recycled this issue can no longer cause any trouble.
The dry cleaning can produce hazardous waste and air pollution if not handled correctly, and they’re often paired with stain removers that are more toxic than the solvents themselves.
But apart from these factors, it is sustainable and better than fast fashion because the clothing in these rental systems typically has a longer life cycle than a piece from a fast-fashion brand.
There are chances that they are more likely made with higher quality fiber and fabrics, meaning produces with more care than cheaper synthetics.
Rented clothes cut down the manufacturing of new fabrics, it cuts down waste and reduces water usage as well as hazardous chemicals.
It is also better for our wallets.
The fashion industry and sustainability have historically had an uncomfortable relationship. The incidents like the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh, growing concerns over sweatshop labor, and now COVID-19, all these have played a major role in degrading environment and consumer psychology. The consumers are now even highly concerned about where and how garments are made. The fashion industry is deemed one of the world’s most polluting industries from toxic chemical use to water pollution and waste. Around 35% of the total of microfibers in the oceans comes from clothing and textiles. It is anticipated that by 2050 the fashion industry will use up 25% of the world’s carbon budget.
Now with the outbreak of COVID, the circular economy will seek to move beyond fashion’s linear model of taking, make and waste to close the loop, designing out waste and minimizing environmental impacts. The fashion brands will work to limit polluting practices through the creation of organic, environmentally conscious collections.
Over the years anyway, recycling has become an important initiative and fashion brands like H&M have a successful garment collection scheme, repurposing consumers’ unwanted clothing. Several brands have also been using recycled materials in clothing. But recycling is still problematic environmentally, its energy-intensive and requires the use of further virgin materials and this is why rental fashion will flourish post-COVID. It’s speculated that clothing rental would become a key future fashion trend. Certainly, the luxury market will witness a slow down due to the fall in the economy, there will be demand for lower-priced long-lasting items, which will be just too easy to buy. Rental fashion will be convenient, cheap, accessible, and will also fulfill the desire of consumers for having something new.
The recovery from this pandemic will coincide with a recessionary market, compelling fashion players to ramp up resilience planning and adapt their operating models. Companies surviving the immediate crisis will have made bold and rapid interventions to stabilize their core business before seeking out new markets, strategic opportunities, and future pockets of growth in a global fashion industry undergoing a dramatic transformation. It is likely that post-COVID there will be values around sustainability into sharp focus, intensifying discussions, and further polarising views around materialism, over-consumption, and irresponsible business practices. All these factors are further going to change the dynamics of the fashion industry, consumers will increasingly embrace the rental fashion culture, reason being the economy, fewer get-togethers, and fear of going out. They’ll be looking for investment pieces and the ones that last longer. There are high chances that the Indian fashion designers would start participating in the rental industry too.
What are your views about rental fashion, would you prefer to rent fashion garments post-COVID-19?
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