Because renting clothes is the new way to “shop”
If you’ve been reading the fashion pages in the papers recently, it won’t have escaped your notice that there’s a new way of getting a wardrobe refresh: clothing rental. While not an entirely new thing – I tested a dress rental company for a feature when I worked at The Times about 10 years ago – these next generation companies are about more than just hiring a dress for a special occasion (although they’re great for that too). Featuring thoughtful edits, cool brands and tempting subscription offers, they’re a convenient way of getting a fresh hit for a holiday, party or just everyday life, without the guilt of buying something new that you’ll only wear 7 times, if we are to believe the terrifying statistics. So I thought I would try one of them out and let you know the results.
Of all the rental companies I’ve come across, On Loan spoke to me the loudest. You take a short style survey, and they will send you suggestions for what’s available to hire that they think you might like. The clothes get sent to you in a nifty RePack bag – a reuse-able postage bag which you can send them back in when you’re done – and arrive pretty quickly (mine were here within two days). You also give them a bit of info about what you will be doing for the month – parties, holidays etc – so that they can tailor the edit to suit the events. There are various levels of subscription but I went for the £69 monthly membership, which entitles you to two pieces of clothing for the month. You can pause your subscription at any time, so you might just want to use it at Christmas and over the summer, for example.
ALEXACHUNG striped dress and Mother of Pearl blouse, rented for 1 month from On Loan (onloan.co)
I was really impressed not only with the edit, but with the brands on offer – this is a great way of wearing labels that you might not ordinarily consider because of the price tag. I opted for this striped ALEXACHUNG dress and more stripes with this blouse from Mother of Pearl, which is a little out of my comfort zone, style-wise, but I rather fancied pushing my limits without the worry of something lying unworn in my wardrobe. Because obviously the joy of this model is that someone else has already enjoyed this shirt before me, and it will go on to have fun with other people afterwards, too.
Anyone who feels a bit icky about clothes sharing (although, why you would I don’t know!), you need not worry as the clothes are immaculate when they arrive. Cleaning, minor repairs and shipping are also all included in the price of your subscription. I don’t think I’ll be using it every month, but this is definitely a service I will be taking advantage of in the future. On Loan have kindly offered my readers 10% off their first month too – just use the code ENBROGUE on the website.
Looking for something different? Here are 5 more wardrobe rental companies to look out for. NB I haven’t tried these ones out yet, so can’t vouch for them myself, but they look great!
picture from @hurr
Dubbed “the AirBNB of fashion” by Forbes, Hurr is different from On Loan in that it’s a two-way model; you can rent your own clothes out as well as borrow them yourself. Rentals are for 7 or 14 days and you can choose whether to meet the person lending you the clothes or have them sent to you. hurrcollective.com
My Wardrobe HQ
picture from @mywardrobe_hq
My Wardrobe HQ is a closed group but you can register to get in on the action. With a focus on luxury, you can expect to see labels worthy of special occasions. Like Hurr, you can become someone who borrows, or someone who rents. mywardrobehq.com
The Nu Wardrobe
The Nu Wardrobe works slightly more like a massive, digitally savvy swopping party. You sign up to join a network of women in your area (currently London), pay a subscription fee and upload items you’re happy to loan to other members to the app. Clothes will be delivered in person or by bike, and they will calculate the carbon and water savings you’ve made by borrowing rather than buying something new. thenuwardrobe.com
picture from @byrotationofficial
Another peer to peer model, By Rotation boasts rental of coveted sold out items like this adorable Jacquemus mini bag – ideal if you love high fashion and want to dabble without having to fork out for it for keeps. byrotation.com
picture from @hirestreetuk
Clothes hire isn’t reserved for the luxury market; Hire Street rents high street labels such as Whistles, Reiss and French Connection. You can loan for 4 to 16 days, although I don’t think the hire prices necessarily reflect the lower price point of the clothes on offer, which is why I personally prefer On Loan – more bang for my buck! hirestreet.com