Buy Less, Wear More?
When I showed up for a lunch date last week, my friend Danielle didn’t even look up from her phone, “Give me another minute, I’m building my closet." It turns out she is a very happy, very loyal member of Rent the Runway Unlimited where she has apparently unlocked an "endless wardrobe”.
I had thought that RTR was just girly party dresses, but I realized that they now carry everyday clothes and accessories and good brands, like Veronica Beard, See by Chloe, Rag & Bone, Vince, and Iro. You pay a monthly subscription fee and get as many clothes as you like. You keep 4 things at a time, and there is free quick shipping and free dry cleaning. And if you like something you’ve borrowed, you can buy it at a deeply discounted price.
It turns out there’s a growing number of retailers that are joining the Sharing Economy. I’ve always loved borrowing clothes from my friends and my sisters, that just seems smart and fun, and this is sort of the same thing. But these closets are way bigger, there’s no bickering or tears, and I don’t have to clean a thing.
This rental concept changes the way you think about clothes. There’s lots of trends or colors or styles that appeal to me. Ready to buy? Hmmmm, not sure. Ready to try? For sure!
Rent the Runway Unlimited: It makes sense that 65% of Unlimited users are first time RTR users - probably people like me who were surprised to find out it’s more than special occasion dresses. Here are some items that I would definitely borrow, or maybe even buy.
I’m hoping to convince my husband to take a spring trip to Mexico City and Oaxaca. Put these dresses in my suitcase and I’d be good to go - the Mara Hoffman Vivica and a bohemian Dodo Bar Or maxi. Add in the adorable Simon Miller Bonsai bag and I will be “that” super chic vacay girl. Renting makes sense for vacations!
Vince Unfold: Huge Vince fan. Modern, simple, elegant, quality fabrics and that nice slouchy menswear look that I crave. At Vince Unfold, you get unlimited access to their line and keep 4 things at any one time. Free shipping and free cleaning. There’s definitely many items from Vince that have a “forever home” in my closet, but there’s lots of great pieces I want to wear, but would prefer to borrow first. Try and then buy?
Gwynnie Bee: This is an online store that offers a wide array of brands along with extended and inclusive sizing. Gwynnie Bee’s selections cover all occasions - from work, to play, to parties. The subscription plan is very flexible, you can choose to rent 1-10 items per month - free exchanges, shipping, cleaning.
Tulerie: This was totally new to me. Tulerie allows users to rent clothing, shoes and accessories to each other with the app acting as the medium between borrowers and lenders. Their positioning is, “You already wore it, now let someone else”. So, you expand your wardrobe options by borrowing clothes and you can profit on what you own by sharing them with others.
Membership is free, but users have to be screened before they are accepted into the network. I guess they want you to feel like you’re borrowing from a friend, not loaning a dress out to some random stranger. If someone damages an item, they are liable for 200% of the original retail value (!). And people leave reviews - so if someone behaves badly, they’ll get booted out of the system pretty quickly.
The Takeaway? I have so many things in my closet that I’ve worn just a few times so borrowing vs. buying makes a lot of sense. And overall, it’s increasingly important to consider how we buy and use clothing. Manufacturing clothes is one of the world’s leading polluters, and so much of it gets produced in poor countries with pretty lax work regulations.
If you’re thinking about borrowing clothes, check out other brands that are building out rental platforms - like Rebecca Taylor RNTD, Ann Taylor Infinite Style, American Eagle Style Drop and Express Style Trial.
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