Maybe you’ve already tried fashion rental for a wedding guest dress or designer handbag? But if you’re thinking of taking the next step and renting out your own wardrobe, but you’re not sure how to go about it, we’ve got your back. We’ve asked the experts to share everything you need to know about the fashion rental process.
Renting your own wardrobe could see you earn a significant amount of income and ensure your purchases are more sustainable so it’s a win-win situation, surely? Yes… but these are the essential tips you need to know to make the most of the experience…
It’s fair to say the fashion rental business has exploded in recent years. From peer-to-peer rental apps like By Rotation, to high street services from LK Bennett (LK Borrowed), ASOS’s collaboration with HireStreet and John Lewis’ fashion rental… through to My Wardrobe HQ and Hurr - who have pop-ups in Harrods and Selfridges, respectively… It’s as easy to rent special fashion pieces as it is to pop into Zara (the plus-side that you're far less likely to bump into someone wearing the same thing...) And as we all become more conscious of our consumption, swapping out a few potential purchases for rental options needs to become second nature.
Although rental got a bad rap in an Finnish study in 2021 it’s generally understood that it’s a more responsible way to consume fashion, particularly when using the peer-to-peer model and being mindful during the cleaning process. Wedding guest season is the biggest date in the rental calendar (as well as the December merry-go-round of festive parties) but some people rent their holiday wardrobe, smart tailoring for interviews or statement accessories. There are always opportunities to lend out your wardrobe to a willing renter.
Jenna Nicolls is a content creator and co-owner of Grand Union Cross Fit and wishes she’d started renting her wardrobe out sooner, (find her 'fits on By Rotation.) “I ummed and ahhed about doing it for ages but when I found a few of my favourite dresses didn’t fit, I took the plunge - it’s been so successful.”
1: Pick the right price
Jenna advises you price your pieces competitively. “I have a red Self-Portrait dress that is perfect for weddings or special events. Apart from being a really eye-catching piece, I lend it at a good price point which I think makes it more appealing to renters.” As more and more rental platforms appear, savvy renters compare prices across different sites, so pricing competitively will make sure your dress is the one they pick. By Rotation suggest a daily rental fee of 5% of the retail price.
2: Define your renting style
Everyone's relationship with their wardrobe differs so work out if you're the sort of person who will slide into a mire of misery if your favourite dress gets damaged or if you'll shrug and move on. If you really, really care about your clothes, you might want to stick to renting less precious pieces. Although Eshita Kabra, founder and CEO By Rotation, is a rental devotee and has even rented out her wedding dress, “Seeing other people make memories in my clothes (is) my favourite part. My clothes have been worn on first dates, graduations and wedding days and contributing to these special occasions by sharing my wardrobe is so rewarding.”
But what does happen if your dress does gets ripped beyond repair while on loan (or lost in the post)? It depends on what platform you’re renting on. At By Rotation, Eshita clarifies that, “in the case of an accidental stain or rip, the Lender is able to charge the Renter for the additional cleaning or repair costs through the app. If the item is beyond repair, By Rotation can step in and the Renter is liable to pay for the replacement of the item.”
Coco Baraer Panazza is founder and CEO of rental website Cercle, who have a selection of vintage pieces to loan. “It was very important for us to provide an additional level of security for our lenders but also to be able to welcome unique pieces onto the platform. All items are covered (by insurance) while being out on loan." Good to Know.
3: Communication is key
Coco continues, "While insurance is important, driving trust and respect within the community is even more key. We want to drive change in the way we consume and that starts with cherishing and really taking care of what we own and what we share to really ensure a piece reaches its maximum life cycle.”
Eshita also emphasises the importance of communication when renting. “I always recommend getting to know your renter, and vice versa. Borrowing clothes from each other’s wardrobes is like speed dating… talk through sizing and always check in, if they have any questions about the process. Some of our rotators save FAQs on their Notes app to copy and paste them as and when needed.” Ok, that’s clever.
“When new users join the app, we have an effortless verification process in place, where every new Rotator needs to provide information about themselves prior to sending rental requests. After each rental transaction, you are asked to review your fellow rotator (much like Airbnb). This instills a sense of trust and allows you to see who your rental requests are coming from. For higher valued items, new users are required to have a minimum of 3 reviews from the Rotator community.”
4: Look at the trends
And what about the money to be made from renting out your wardrobe? That’s a big incentive to sharing your wardrobe. It pays, literally, to rent out pieces that are in high demand. At By Rotation the top rented brands include Rixo, Sleeper, 16 Arlington and The Vampire’s Wife. Lucy Clyne has made almost £9k from renting out her wardrobe and suggests you “keep in the know with trends… and think of the season [to ensure you have the right clothes available.]” Building relationships with your lenders is also key because “you share a wardrobe now!”
5: Get involved in the community
Communication is definitely the way to get the best results from renting. Terri Mangan, one of By Rotation's top renters, suggests you have a minimum three day rental period and advises, “Always go the extra mile for customers and they will rent from you again. During the postal strikes I was meeting people in London, so they had an outfit over the festive season. Be understanding if the rentals come back late.”
Being clear over when you expect things back, dry cleaning costs and how you want things sent to you is essential (many renters request Royal Mail special delivery which has adequate insurance coverage for any losses.) You could also look to lend pieces that are washable - rather than needing to be dry-cleaned after every wear - or look for chemical-free cleaning options to keep your environmental impact even lower.
Eshita also suggests you add photos of yourself in the item, "so people can see what it looks like on a person with your measurements. It also lets people get inspired by seeing different ways of styling the item. Once you’ve had rentals, ask the person who rented your item if you can have a photo of them in the piece and permission to add it to your listing. The more reference photos the better!”
Ok, we're convinced. Are you going to join us in the rental revolution? Eshita's final advice is, “Just dedicate an evening to it, put on a podcast and get started. As soon as you put up your first listing you’ll wonder what took you so long.”
This article was originally published on Glamour UK.