The age of rentals and the sharing economy

category: Trends

sectors: Retail

A growing trend amongst the Instagram generation is that clothes are disposable; wear them once or twice and then discard them. Shockingly, Barclaycard reported 9% of UK shoppers admit to buying clothing just to wear for a social media post. Clothing hasn’t just been about functionality for a while, but the relationship between consumer and garment is more fickle than ever.

Fast fashion means en vogue pieces barely last a month in the spotlight, resulting in colossal waste. The average American is estimated to bin 37kg of clothing a year, according to The Independent. In order to keep up with the rapid production cycle of fast-fashion, companies have begun to produce lower quality items for less. This means garments expire quicker; an estimated 50% of fast fashion pieces are disposed of within one year.

Rent the Runway is fighting to shift the way we buy clothes by encouraging consumers to buy less and rent more. Solving problems of waste, items can be rented, worn and given back when the customer is done with it, ready for the next person. This means these fashion-conscious consumers can keep up with the rapidly changing trends without the harmful waste left behind.

Rental companies are on a pursuit to change this toxic relationship between consumers and material goods. Platforms that are changing the idea of ownership already exist in other areas of our lives; Netflix, Spotify, DriveNow, Audible and so on. Now, businesses are doing the same with physical possessions such as clothes. By breaking the mold of purchasing behaviour, these fashion brands – inspired by the fast-paced modern lifestyle – are creating high-end and good-quality items that will last. To hit the lower price bracket, they rent them out to customers. A recent survey by the Westfield Shopping Centre in London suggested clothing rental would become a key future trend.

Image courtesy of Recode

The way consumers view ownership doesn’t only affect the fashion industry. Renting property is at an all-time high with “40% of young Brits saying they will never own a home.” Being forced in to a position of constant renting raises problems in regards to the amount and size of personal belongings one can have. With no desire to buy furniture, only to have to migrate it to various properties over the years, the modern market needed a new solution.

Feather Furniture detected this pain-point that plagues not only millennials, but Gen X’s and baby boomers who are also being priced out of the housing market. By renting robust and stylish furniture, the brand caters to the modern-day market by supporting the consumers who live ‘on the move’; eliminating the cost and waste of buying furniture.

Image courtesy of The Verge

This new purchasing pattern is a win-win-win. Less waste for landfill; consumers can swap different styles when they get bored; both vendor and consumer are happy with the prices.

As a generation that’s obsessed with instant gratification and constantly on the move, renting suits the consumers of today and is set to build even more momentum in the year ahead.