OWNING IS OUT
Retailers debut new clothing rental services
As young consumers’ consumption habits trend toward usage rather than ownership, mass-market and mall brands are adopting rental models for their already affordable product offerings. This trend has taken off in Japan, a country whose emerging trends we explored in The Global Culture Forecast, and is now poised to disrupt the U.S. fashion market.
Clothing rental services already create a circular product economy, but female-founded T-shirt brand For Days is taking this concept a step further. Customers rent basic T-shirts and wear them until they’re unusable—stained, ripped, or otherwise worn out—before sending them back. For Days then upcycles the old shirts into new ones, and the self-sustaining and zero waste cycle begins again. Subscription options include four rental tiers, ranging from $38 to $348 per year, where customers can rent as little as one tee per year to as many as 10.
At the beginning of October, corporate mass-market retailer Express debuted Express Style Trial, a $69.95/month subscription model that allows consumers to rent three pieces of clothing at any given time. Once the customer is done with their pieces they can send them back and take out three more, for a maximum of 12 pieces a month. While high-end fashion and accessory rentals have previously and readily adopted the rental model, Express’ foray into this market will be closely watched, as the retailer’s offerings already exist at a much lower, and therefore attainable, rate.
Exorbitant price tags, covetable social credit, and visual shareability make streetwear a natural contender for an "access over ownership" rental model. Rotarity is tapping into this whitespace by allowing customers to rent streetwear pieces for 10% of their full retail value or purchase a monthly unlimited subscription where customers get four to five pieces at a time and keep them for the month. If the concept seems déclassé to hypebeasts everywhere, they can rest assured knowing that each piece will be consigned, donated, or sold after it’s been rented anywhere between six to 10 times, preserving some of the sought-after exclusivity that is deeply ingrained in streetwear culture.