WRAP, the UK’s resource efficiency agency, has identified leasing as an innovative business model to increase the durability of clothes while reducing material use and carbon dioxide emissions. A recent survey by the Westfield Shopping Centre in London also suggested clothing rental as a key future trend.
The potential value of the clothing rental market in the UK is estimated at £923 million, and the model is already well established for certain items, such as dinner jackets and wedding suits for men. However, only a few fashion companies have adopted leasing. Mud Jeans, for example, offers consumers a pair of organic jeans on lease for year after which consumers can either swap or return them. Girl Meets Dress, founded in the UK in 2009, also operates with a view to make garment ownership obsolete.
Although a growing trend, clothing rental is largely available for luxury market, rental of lower priced items is not preferred as they can be easily bought. Clothing rental has the potential to reduce waste and extend the lifespan of garments, but to achieve a more sustainable industry a systemic change in business practice and consumer behavior is needed.