Ten years ago, in a world where Uber was just starting out, getting into a taxi with a stranger would have been unheard of. Before Airbnb changed the travel industry, sleeping in a strangers house over a well-known hotel chain would have been a little odd.
We live in a time very much immersed in the idea of sharing. With fashion being one of the most polluting industries in the world due to high-demand, sharing our wardrobes makes sense – for the planet’s sake.
Although rental fashion isn’t a new phenomenon (Rent the Runway, for example, has been in operation for over ten years), an increase in environmental concerns has made hiring clothes more popular than ever.
There’s a clear appetite for sharing when it comes to fashion – Rent the Runway was valued at a billion dollars in May 2019. Renting out clothes is already huge in the US, Australia and is dominating the Asian retail market. Now, it’s owning its place in the UK.
Rental site HURR offers something a little different. It’s the first peer-to-peer service that adapts the same sharing aspect that we love about Uber and Airbnb, just with your wardrobe instead.
Victoria Prew, Co-founder of HURR, believes that “rental is the future of fashion in both financially and environmentally”.
As our society becomes more aware of the consequences on the environment, people are keener than ever to educate themselves.
“It’s a similar shift in people not eating meat and being more conscious with the veganism movement,” says Prew. “It’s infiltrating beauty with clean living and it’s happening with fashion with rental. It’s more of a movement now than a trend.”
How does it work?
It works very similarly to Airbnb, but rather than listing your house, you list your wardrobe.
“It you want to rent, you submit a request and then the lender has 48 hours to accept or decline that request, so very similar to Airbnb,” explains Prew. “You might chat before a transaction goes through just like other sharing apps.”
HURR puts a social spin on rental fashion; users can chat with their lenders or renters to hear their styling tips or how the item fits in real life. Pieces can be rented from seven days up to a month and are delivered either through Geo-tag meet-ups, Royal Mail or HURR’s courier cycling service Pedal, which offers a greener alternative.
The company’s latest partnership with Traid also helps the planet. Users donate their un-rentable clothes to Traid if they don’t meet HURR’s £150 minimum price point and are put back into circulation.
Rental fashion isn’t just about the big high-fashion brands like Gucci, Prada and Balenciaga. HURR only accept pieces that have a RRP higher than £150, so they have your favourite contemporary brands ready to rent.
“We want to cut-out fast fashion,” says Prew. “It’s built to fail, we want clothes that are built to last. Our price point means we have a lot of the accessible brands like Ganni, Rixo, Kitri and Rotate which rent really well.”
“We didn’t want to be exclusively high-end brands. Having cool sustainable and emerging brands was really important for us.”
Trialling it out
Before trying out HURR for the week, I had reservations. Rental fashion struck me as a service dedicated to one-off occasionwear, which turned out not to be true.
My bag arrived and inside was my dream wardrobe, from gingham Ganni tops and dresses to of-the-moment silk slip skirts, Rixo dresses to brands I wasn’t aware of, including a delicate Esthé pink frilled blouse.
The beauty of rental is that you can try out new styles and brands without having to commit to it being in your wardrobe forever.
“Rental should be part of your everyday,” Prew says and I couldn’t agree more. “If you want to change up your work wardrobe and rent a Mother of Pearl white shirt, you can borrow it for a couple of weeks,” Prew tells me. “It’s about incorporating it much more into your day to day life than just for occasions.”
Who is renting?
The millennial generation values access over ownership, meaning they’re more open to the idea of sharing than older generations. They’re the sharing economy and generation rent, but that being said, it’s not just mid-30s who are sharing their wardrobes.
“What’s interesting is we have lenders over 55 who have built up amazing wardrobes over the years,” Prew says. “What’s nice is we now have an older generation effectively renting out their wardrobes to the younger generation.”
Saving the planet
Sustainable fashion can be clouded and people still don’t really know what it means. ‘Eco’ or ‘green’ fashion used to hold the stigma of being all about hemp, khaki or beige – misconceptions that couldn’t be further from reality.
Every day we’re seeing new sustainable brands emerging or existing ones pledging to go greener within their business. Sharing fashion eliminates the risk of panic buying for one occasion that feeds into the fast fashion cycle. Instead, you can spend the same £70 you would on a Zara last-minute purchase and wear a dream piece from a brand you truly love.
Rental fashion means that we don’t have to sacrifice great style in order to be more sustainable. What’s not to love?