It’s time to talk about fashion rental! Would you rent your clothes? I’ve dipped my toe in the world of dress hire before, but with so many new sites popping up, I wanted to go further and do a comparison for you.
Renting clothes is nothing new. You’ve likely rented a dress or a tux at some point. If you went to university, you may have rented a cap and gown for your graduation. But what about doing it on a regular basis?
That’s the concept that’s taking the sustainable fashion world by storm: fashion rental. And, as a curiously conscious dresser, I wanted to not only try it, but see whether it’s an option for being more sustainable generally…
How Do Fashion Rental Services Work?
If you’re interested in trying a fashion rental service, you’d probably like to know exactly how they work.
You can choose from:
- One-off clothes hiring
- Monthly clothes subscription
…Or somewhere in-between. Most fashion rental services charge you for the clothes and the rental period, providing free delivery and collection, and covering you for laundering and mending clothes at the end of your rental period.
Is Hiring Clothes More Sustainable Than Buying Them?
This is the key question! I would argue that for the most part, renting clothes is more sustainable than buying them, because:
- Items get more wear than they would exclusively in your wardrobe
- You can enjoy an item without directly creating demand for materials and labour
- Laundering and mending is often included, so items are kept at a high standard throughout their life cycle
However, there are a few grey areas. For example:
- Dry cleaning can create lots of chemical run-off, and rentals tend to include dry cleaning as standard
- Renting clothes creates twice as many deliveries, meaning more emissions in the long run
- Certain fashion rental brands are backed by fast fashion brands
Yes, you read that last line correctly. Fast fashion is getting into rentals! So before you start renting, you may like to know which businesses are benefitting from your attempts at being more sustainable. Here’s a quick overview (a small, non-exhaustive list):
- Hurr Collective is backed by New Look among others
- H&M is testing fashion rental in China under its COS brand
- Nuuly is owned by URBN, the parent company of Urban Outfitters
It seems fashion rental is becoming a hot commodity for fashion brands generally, rather than simply those looking to be more sustainable…
Which Fashion Rental Service Is Best?
So, onto the reviews. I’ve tried three fashion rental services so far: Wear The Walk (which is sadly no longer in business), The Devout, and Rotaro, and I also spoke with two friends on their experiences of two more services – Hurr Collective and Onloan – to put this comparison together:
Review #1: The Devout
Cost: £79 per month for 5 items
Clothes sizes: 6 – 14
Brands: All Saints, REISS, Whistles
Packaging: Sturdy cardboard box
Review: I tried The Devout for the first time in July, and immediately took to the service as a playful way to add to my everyday wear. The rental service provides access to higher-end high-street brands, meaning the pieces I chose got a lot of wear during my 30 day rental period.
With the average monthly fashion spend being £80 in the UK, The Devout could be seen as a great way to enjoy updating your wardrobe without creating demand for lots of items. However, if you’re not ready to commit all your fashion spend to rental straight away, the price can feel a little restrictive.
The Devout offers the following benefits:
- Free delivery and returns
- Laundry and dry cleaning
- Complimentary damage cover for repairs and stains
- Plus the option to purchase items at the end of your rental period
One downside to selecting items on The Devout is the inability to sort clothes by size on their website. As a very new service, I hope that this will be improved in the future, and more size inclusivity is provided too.
Review #2: Rotaro
Cost: Price per item
Clothes sizes: 6 – 16
Brands: Ganni, House of Sunny, The Vampires Wife
Packaging: Disposable plastic bags, with more plastic bags for the return
Review: Rotaro has been my most recent fashion rental experience, and potentially the most fun I’ve had renting clothes. Despite getting all dressed up with nowhere to go, I did enjoy trying out renting bags for the first time through their service!
Rotaro provides an individual item rental service, with prices varying from under £20 through to £50 to rent one item for 4 days. I tend to see the service as a good option for a special occasion, and also match dresses, outerwear, and bags together, so you can rent an entire look in one go.
They provide the following perks:
- Free next day delivery
- Free returns
- Dry cleaning
- Option to buy at the end of your rental
Sadly on my first time renting, I chose four items, and only three arrived, without any communication from Rotaro. I had to chase this up and was reimbursed for missing dress, but had I been renting for a wedding or special event, I would have been pretty pissed off.
Review #3: Onloan
Cost: £69 per month for 2 items, or £99 per month for 4 items
Clothes sizes: 8 – 16
Brands: ALEXACHUNG, Olivia Rose The Label, Mother of Pearl, Shrimps
Packaging: RePack reusable packaging
Review: Onloan is another fashion rental service I’ve been meaning to try, so for this review I consulted their website and spoke to sustainable fashion stylist and Onloan customer, Emma Slade Edmonson.
Onloan provides a monthly fashion rental subscription service with the following perks:
- Free next day delivery
- Reusable packaging
- Cleaning and mending
- No late fees or damage fees
- Pause or cancel at any time (including within first month)
Emma said the following about Onloan: “I’ve been using Onloan pretty much since they launched and I love their fashion forward range and the choice of designers they stock.
They are always striving to add to the sizes available on the site and I’ve seen these steadily increase over time.
For a combination of ease and selection and preference when it comes to subscription over peer to peer – Onloan is probably my top choice for clothing rental right now.”
Onloan and Rotaro seem to be very similar in style and brands, choosing cult labels but providing two different service styles: individual renting vs. monthly subscription. Onloan tends to provide better value, and when I compared a very similar tartan dress from Shrimps on both services, it equated to £12 per day on Rotaro vs. £1.15 per day to rent with Onloan, but of course being locked in to a 30-day rental.
Review #4: Hurr Collective
Cost: Price set per item
Clothes sizes: 4 – 28
Brands: Hundreds, from Acne Studios to Zadig & Voltaire
Packaging: RePack reusable packaging
Review: If you prefer to rent individual items without a subscription, Hurr Collective may be the platform for you. Think of it like Vestiaire Collective, except you have to send the items back at the end of your rental period!
Hurr Collective operates as an online marketplace with high-end designer labels listed by users and rented by users alike. You can choose from clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories. Prices sit around the 10% mark for just four days of wear, which can provide access to some beautiful, unaffordable pieces, but can also feel a little expensive at times. On the flip-side, it can also enable you to tap into the value of your wardrobe, and get some extra income for high-end pieces you don’t wear too often!
Marta Canga, a friend and fellow sustainable lifestyle influencer, tried their service in 2019. She says: “Last year I tried HURR’s rental collection service. They had a pop up in Victoria where you could come in and try the garments, before an assistant would invoice you depending on how many days you were planning on using it. I chose to go for 2 days, since I knew it was for an event.
I absolutely loved the experience and it was great to be able to go back to the pop up and return the dress without any compromise. It cost me £20, which included cleaning, and I think this is a particularly reasonable price if you have some kind of event.
I wouldn’t do it on the regular but I’m planning on renting from Hurr for my sister’s wedding next year!”
Best UK Fashion Rental Sites
So, over to you – are you ready to rent your clothes? Here’s an extended list of fashion rental sites for you to choose from…
Byrotation: Fashion rental app facilitating lending and renting clothes, accessories, and bags between users.
Cocoon*: Bags! Bags! Bags! If you’re looking to add dream bags into your wardrobe, Cocoon’s bag rental service is the one for you.
The Devout*: High-end high-street fashion subscription, with a generous 5 pieces per month. Get £10 off your first box with the code DEVT10.
Hirestreet: If you’re looking to dress up fancy, Hirestreet has the pieces for you.
Hurr Collective: One of the largest fashion rental platforms in the UK, Hurr connects lenders and renters with hundreds of designer pieces.
Loanhood: Soon-to-launch fashion loaning and renting platform with IRL events.
My Wardrobe HQ: Designer fashion rental site with individual items, and option to rent items from 4 to 14 days at a time.
Nuw: Clothes sharing app, with fixed monthly fee of just £7.99 and unlimited access to loaning and renting clothes.
Onloan: Monthly subscription for either two or four items at a time, from cult brands.
Palanta (Netherlands): Monthly fashion subscription with access to womenswear, maternity clothes, and baby clothes.
Rotaro: Individual item rental service, with dresses, outerwear, and bags. Get 15% off with the code BESMA15.