In 2016, the global online clothing rental market was expected to expand at an annual growth rate of 9.8%, with a valuation of US$1.95 billion by 2026 (Future Marketing Insights, 2016). Due to the covid crisis, the retail and luxury industries took a nose-dive.
Against all odds, fashion rental has kept growing, including thanks to the decline in purchasing power. “Rental is picking up because people are really concerned about their pay packet but still want something new and nice to wear without the financial risk,” says Newall, founder of My Wardrobe HQ. In addition, Carolyn Mair, behavioural psychologist and author of The Psychology of Fashion explains that “We get used to things that give us pleasure quickly but the strength of the initial pleasure depletes over time”. “Fashion thrives on our need for novelty and so renting – and other options that allow us to have ‘new to us’ – satisfies so many of our current needs.” Thus, fashion rental services satisfy the consumers’ need to revolve their wardrobe while managing their budget.
At the end of Summer 2020, Selfridges launched its Project Earth. This program tackles several sustainability issues and includes the “shop and sell pre-loved” campaign, Resellfridges, a refillable beauty and fragrance functionment, and repair services. Thus, they collaborated with the rental platform Hurr to start its open lending service. It finally emerged in May, 2021.
On the one hand, Hurr was founded in 2017 by Victoria Prew and quickly gained momentum. On the other hand, Selfridges is a centenary chain of department stores which sells clothes, decoration items… This collaboration contributed to the transformation of the latter. Today, Selfridges has its own platform, apart from its main website.
This example clearly exposes that innovation and young spirits in start-ups can breathe new life into long-established groups. In other words, old companies can adapt to new business models, precisely when it comes to the sharing economy.
“The rise of fashion rental”, The Guardian, Scarlett Conlon, Sun 20 Sep 2020