Sustainable fashion has been a key trend on catwalks around the world with brands like Levi Strauss & Co. and Cecilie Bahnsen opting to create collections that speak to a more conscious market. The BFC released a statement this month to the industry stating “We encourage our brands, designers and retailers, who are used to fashion’s fast, unforgiving pace, to slow down”.
The Lyst’s ‘2020 Conscious Fashion Report’ shows the the internet has seen a 37 percent increase in searches for sustainability-related keywords, with the average monthly searches increasing from 27,000 in 2019 to more than 32,000 year to date.
This begs the question how do we maintain a love for designer fashion and indulge in seasonal trends, whilst being a conscious consumer? Rented fashion could very well be the answer. In the past few years, rental services have been growing and offering consumers a set of options beyond borrowing a Chanel 2.55 bag.
Kicked off by fashion giant Rent the Runway over a decade ago, rented fashion startups are now one of the fastest growing trends on the market. They offer a diverse choice of outfit options and dresses to choose from, for a fraction of the cost of buying a new designer frock. For many of us who are planning on wearing an item only once, this is a very attractive option.
But what kind of options are out there when there is so much to choose from and such varying tastes in fashion? And can you really find your dream dress already hanging in someone else’s closet? Would that individual actually be open to letting you wear it for a fraction of the cost? Apparently so.
Designer 24, based in Dubai, offers a bespoke rental service for consumers who are seeking eco-friendly and accessible designer fashion. The company highlights the effect social media has had on purchasing ‘one-off’ outfits stating that “. . . with growing focus on social media, you no longer have to worry about being seen in the same dress twice. The concept of borrowing a dress is not new – designers have lent dresses to celebrities for decades.” They offer rentals from high end designers such as Oscar De La Renta to high street brands such as Reiss and ASOS.
Designer 24 also offers an in-house consultation in their Dubai showrooms where customers can browse in store collections to even be rented out later that evening.
Eshita Kabra-Davies set up peer-to-peer fashion rental app By Rotation after considering purchasing an £800 (approx. Dhs3,675) designer dress to wear once for that perfect Instagram photo on her honeymoon in India. She notes that she wishes she could have just rented the dress, as she would have hardly worn it at home.
When she arrived in Rajasthan, India (where she is originally from) she was struck by the amount of textile waste littered across the streets. It was upon seeing the discarded fabric that she realized she needed to consider her own personal footprint on opting in to the ‘one-off’ outfit mentality – and so ‘By Rotation’ was born.
Eshita notes that, for most people, high end fashion is unaffordable, unattainable and exclusive. By Rotation offers women the chance to rent a modern and expansive designer wardrobe at an affordable price. She notes that a customer can even rent a luxury dress for the cost of a fast fashion knock-off – which make up the bulk of the textile waste filling up landfills.
By creating an accessible fashion rental market, women can access designer clothing beyond their social and economic status, creating true freedom of style.
Eshita notes that many women from minority backgrounds don’t feel adequately represented, both on the catwalk and within the fashion cycle; she believes the industry doesn’t engage as well as it could with the end consumer or celebrate diversity beyond the catwalk. By creating a space where high-end fashion is accessible to all, she gives women the right to choose which brands they want to engage with and wear, without sacrificing style or ethics by settling for fast fashion replicas – or simply being locked out of fashion all together.
It is unlikely that consumers will ever rent an entire wardrobe and cease to buy completely, but rental fashion could be the key to maintaining a closet filled with seasonal designer items at a fraction of the cost, whilst ensuring your style is sustainable and bang on trend.
Lead image supplied.