A brief glimpse at the market and the trend is apparent! Uber, Spotify and Netflix are the forerunners in the race of renting out services at eye-watering prices, lifting the burden of “unsustainable” ownership.
In line with the Great Reset and the pledge to rebuild society in a more sustainable and resilient way in a Post-Covid world, one thing is for sure; companies will gradually shift towards the new “modus operandi” of rentals and subscription-based business models launching “greener” manifestos.
According to a McKinsey report, consumers and especially the Millenials and GenZ, are abandoning ownership for the sustainable alternative of rentals to reduce the environmental hazard and exert pressure on companies to come forth with transparency in resource management and production. Having suffered billions in losses but with a heartfelt determination to pull out of the crisis more dynamic and pragmatic than ever, fashion decision-makers are reshaping their business models, streamlining operations, and sharpening customer propositions under the dome of circularity.
Embracing the new imperatives, well-established brands tackle the challenge full-on, expanding the life cycle of products. The new “sustainability goal” comprises of using items for as long as possible, and when eventually the wear and tear process takes its toll, refurbish or recycle the products.
The traditional business models redefined.
The circularity concept gradually permeates every aspect of business with new business models, built on prolonging garment life through recycled, second-hand, remodelled, or rented pieces, winning over “the greener-the better” new consumer constituencies at galloping rates. Clothing ownership is gradually becoming passé with the younger consumers favourably eyeing sustainable alternatives at affordable rates without ignoring the desire to quench their thirst for newness.
The notion of rentals in fashion is not new, though! The first e-commerce service was launched back in 2009, providing designer apparel and accessories for rent. They later went on to open brick-and-mortar stores in several US cities.
Recently, another clothing rental service launched in the US, basing their model on customers paying a monthly subscription fee to swap out items from various brands.
Luxury brands are swaying too! What would once be reprimanded or tied to a lack of affordability and a questionable status is now becoming an attractive outlet from the crisis. The rise in circularity is forcing well-established luxury brands to reconsider the prior adamantly scornful attitude.
A prime example comes from a famous Australian Dress Rental platform, considered the Airbnb of high-end designer clothing. Offering the opportunity to rent garments of iconic names in fashion, the platform is more exclusive than competitors but has won over the Aussie femmes’ hearts.
Not far off and dubbed the “Airbnb of Dresses”, is the world’s first secure designer clothes renting app, which currently has 45,000 users in Australia. This new peer-to-peer based platform allows the users to peep into others’ wardrobes and swap items around. It’s all about real women sharing their wardrobes.
On the other side of the globe, a marketplace for luxury consignment was founded in 2011, based on the circular economy, raising a staggering 288 million dollars in venture capital funding. With in-house experts scouring items for authenticity and value, they offer the real deal when it comes to luxury fashion.
In Europe, a French company born in 2009 was one of the first online consignment shops to offer second-hand luxury and fashion. Ten years later and the once small start-up had raised a startling 40 million euros for international development.
And the list goes on…In a nutshell, the wardrobes of the future consumer base will most probably look quite different from their parents. Imbued by social justice and values, and in a quest to save the environment, they will demand a green consciousness underlying every purchase aspect.
Is this indicative of the shape of things to come? Paraphrasing the words of M. Kundera: We walk in fog uncertain of where we are going, and the events of the past seem clear only once they have already been experienced.