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Strategy

Renting clothes, the future of fashion

Renting rather than buying, this trend is gaining ground in fashion. If the ambition to contribute to the protection of the planet by consuming less is one of the driving forces, it is also the pleasure of wearing prestigious clothes, without spending excessively.

Bettina Bush Mignanego

By Bettina Bush Mignanego19 octobre 2021

Renting grants access to luxury clothing and accessories in a cost-effective and sustainable way, an ideal for GenZ (Shutterstock)

Younger people are the first to adopt this new way of consuming luxury. According to a study by Washington State University, published in Sustainability magazine , Generation Z is the most engaged.  It is the 18-27 year olds who prefer renting, as 55% of the sample surveyed have already experienced it, and women in particular confirm this trend.  It is no coincidence that the fashion sector is concerned, as it is also one of the most polluting. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 17 million tons of textiles ended up in landfills in the United States in 2018, compared to 13 million tons in 2009, and 9.4 million tons in 2000. It comes as no surprise, the purchase of clothes has more than doubled in twenty years.

In Western countries, each person produces 70 kg of textile waste per year, which corresponds to 5% of the world's waste production

Clean Clothes Campaign

The Clean Clothes campaign points out that in Western countries, each person produces 70 kg of textile waste per year, which corresponds to 5% of the world's waste production. Now comparing the impact of renting clothes in the US, where the trend started earlier than in other countries, renting a dress instead of buying it uses 24% less water, saves 6% energy and reduces CO2 emissions by 3% (according to a study published in Women's Wear Daily). 

DressYouCan opened its first shop in Milan in 2018 (DR)

Rent rather than buy

Our platform allows anyone to wear high fashion for a special occasion, at affordable prices

Caterina Maestro, founder and CEO of Milan-based fashion rental start-up Dressyoucan

These figures may seem small, but in the coming years they would represent a saving of 207 million litres of water and 6 million kg of CO2 emissions. These are important issues that the fashion industry cannot ignore.  Caterina Maestro, founder and CEO of Milan-based fashion rental start-up Dressyoucan, explains: "25% of our turnover comes from GenZ. Young people have understood the importance of renting a garment to contribute to a greener future. Renting is the exact opposite of fast fashion and a perfect solution for those who dream of an extensive wardrobe that doesn't feed waste and pollution." While Caterina Maestro did not work directly in the fashion industry, the idea for her start-up came to her after a simple personal observation: too many clothes accumulated in her dressing room and the recurring feeling of never having anything to wear, coupled with the obsessive desire to wear something new. Needless to say, it is difficult to follow this trend," adds Caterina, "both economically and ethically. I first had the idea of a shared wardrobe, a sort of AirBnB of clothing. But it was important to offer a real customer service. Our platform allows anyone to wear high fashion for a special occasion, at affordable prices, through an online or in-store rental system."

The business challenges of rental

Access to a wide range of luxury products at an affordable price, a significant advantage (Shutterstock)

But the challenges of a clothing rental service are significant. She continues: "The early days weren't easy, it was 2014 and we were mainly renting for occasions determined by a calendar. Then we opened our first shop in Milan and the business took off. Since 2018, we have expanded our catalogue. The rental philosophy has also changed. Customers are no longer just doing it for a particular occasion, but for practically every moment in life, a romantic dinner, a working lunch or a presentation. The range has also expanded to include children's clothing for hire.

Dressyoucan expects to make its first profit in 2022. As to how the rental business will evolve, according to the founder, it seems that the market is moving more towards a hybrid concept of use, acquisition and resale.

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