Product review: fashion rental

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I wonder whether fashion rental services will recover anytime soon. The likes of Rent the Runway, My Wardrobe HQ and HURR specialise in servicing those customers that don’t want to buy an outfit for irregular occasions like weddings or gala dinners, so-called ‘buy-once wear-once’ events.

Now that these special occasions have been put on hold and that most of us don’t really leave our homes at the moment, the need to ‘borrow’ clothes has declined significantly. On the other hand, with an increased focus on (fashion) sustainability, there’s still a significant market for and appeal of fashion rental services. Let’s have a first look at fashion rental platforms like Rent the Runway, My Wardrobe HQ and HURR. I’ll check their respective websites and look at two key customer facing aspects: proposition and product pages.

Proposition

Rent the Runway

Rent the Runway (‘RTR’) is probably the most successful and best known fashion rental service out there. RTR offers both one-time rentals and different membership plans. With the latter, renters can choose between the number of items and closet access they’d prefer. RTR’s “basic closet” contains workwear and casual items with a retail value of up to $350. In comparison, the “full closet” also includes event wear and premium fashion, with a maximum retail value of $3,500.

HURR

Different to Rent the Runway, HURR is a peer-to-peer fashion rental service, enabling consumers to list and lend their wardrobe. HURR users looking to rent, can put in a ‘request to borrow’ a certain item and choose the length of the rental.

My Wardrobe HQ

“Rent and buy luxury fashion” reads My Wardrobe HQ’s (‘MWHQ’) strap-line. MWHQ’s marketplace enables boutiques and other vendors to list their products. Similar to HURR, MWHQ specialises in one-time rentals, with customers being able to rent for a period ranging from 4 to 14 days.

Product Pages

Rent the Runway

RTR’s product pages are no frills, but clear. The stylist notes and customer reviews on each product page are helpful in providing more information about the product in question. The customer reviews can be filtered by relevance to the person interested in the product; selecting “like me”, your size, height, etc. will only display relevant ratings and and reviews.

HURR

HURR’s product pages are similar to those of RTR, but do feel more sparse to me — mainly due to the lack of customer ratings and reviews. Each product is accompanied by an environmental savings note, outlining the equivalent CO2e saved by rating the item in question.

My Wardrobe HQ

Similar to RTR and HURR, MWHQ’s product detail pages are clear and simple but effective. Take for instance the information section with four tabs, related to both the product and the renting experience: product details; information about the current product owner; delivery & returns; how renting works.

Main learning point: Fashion rental might well have taken a hit due to the current pandemic, but especially given the increased focus on sustainable fashion, I expect services like Rent the Runway, HURR and My Wardrobe HQ to pick up again as soon as the current health crisis starts improving.

Related links for further learning:

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2020/sep/20/the-rise-of-fashion-rental-scarlett-conlon

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/retail/hms-brand-cos-to-test-clothing-rentals-in-china-with-ycloset

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/technology/fashion-rental-market-rent-the-runway-nuuly-le-tote-vince-unfold

https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/fashion-rental-services

Product at ASOS, author of "My Product Management Toolkit", family, boxing and founder of @hiphoplistings and blogging via http://t.co/uGr5nRye