Something Borrowed

New services offer high-end fashion and accessory rentals

Rent the Runway was a pioneer in making high-end fashion available on an as-needed basis, removing the burden of permanence and the high price tag associated with ownership. Given its popularity and young people’s desire to optimize their lives, there’s a growing market for similar services. New entrants also cater to style-minded consumers who are wary of commitment, but nonetheless want luxury clothing and accessories.


Whereas Rent the Runway offers dresses from designers who are renowned in the U.S. and abroad, Date My Wardrobe provides high-end dresses and accessory rentals from local designers. Users first enter their location and can browse items near them on a map, including cocktail and bridal dresses, ready-to-wear apparel, clutches, and silk scarves. They can favorite items they love and choose to have any of them delivered for a four-day rental period. Customers also have the option to purchase products if they decide they can’t part with them. Currently, the service operates in Boston exclusively, but plans to expand to New York City soon.


Earlier this year, invite-only app Armarium launched, granting women access to luxury ready-to-wear apparel and accessories from dozens of top designers, including Alberta Ferretti, Jimmy Choo, and Roberto Cavalli. As is the case with many competitor services, users can take out pieces for up to four days, yet Armarium differs from many in that it’s exclusive, only features premium products, and allows temporary tailoring. To assist in selecting items, the company has a Style Brigade: a team of freelance professional stylists who can provide tips and guidance digitally or via phone, in person at its NYC showroom, or in one’s residence in select cities.


Residents of São Paulo who want to wear top name brands without owning them can become members of  House of Bubbles, a store where they can rent up to six pieces of designer apparel or accessories for a maximum of 10 days at a time before trading them in. The shop doubles as a laundromat, so users wash each garment on-site before returning them. The company boasts hundreds of established and up-and-coming designers from Brazil, as well as international brands, such as Anthropologie, Zadig & Voltaire, and Christian Dior. Monthly subscriptions cost between $25-$75 depending on the level of access and the brands one wishes to borrow.