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: By Rotation
Cost: Price set per item
Clothes sizes: 4 – 26
Brands: Hundreds, from Alaïa to Zimmermann
Packaging: As agreed with renter
Review: As far as peer-to-peer rental platforms go, By Rotation is one of the best. I used the fashion rental app last year to rent this glossy silver Vampire’s Wife dress from a fellow Brightonian. We exchanged the dress in the lobby of my coworking space, and giggled at the fact that she worked in the offices next door; I knew she was based in Brighton, but an in-person exchange was a pleasant surprise! Most exchanges take place through the post or a private courier, depending on what you choose at checkout.
By Rotation was one a new discovery to me in 2021, and I was easily hooked by the clean, playful branding and thousands of items to browse. If you’re looking for an occasion dress, a special pair of heels, or even some matching accessories, it’s the place to go. Most clothing is high-end high-street and up, and it incentivises users to become both a renter and a loaner, tapping into the hidden earning potential of our wardrobes.
I had a five-star experience renting through By Rotation, returning my dress after a few days and receiving positive feedback from the loaner. I also enjoy perusing their new collections on the app, liking potential pieces for whenever I may need something a little more fun to wear that’s not worth purchasing out-right.
Review #4: Green Glamour
Cost: Price set per item
Clothes sizes: 6 – 18
Brands: Balmain, Maje, Sandro, Zimmermann
Packaging: Reusable biodegradable mailer with return bag and pre-paid label
Review: GreenGlamour is taking the sustainability of fashion rental one step further than simply sharing clothes. The platform – still a small, challenger brand at this point – provides a curated collection of high-end high street and luxury brands, but sprinkles in sustainability with its green delivery partners, reusable packaging, and eco-friendly dry cleaning. I really enjoyed trialing the service across the Goodwood Festival of Speed weekend, where I wore this Sandro mini dress with racing-stripe belt! In addition to their green credentials, I also have to say that GreenGlamour were really great to communicate with and I had a really positive experience renting with them.
Review #5: 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.
Edit 04/2022: Onloan is sadly no longer operating their fashion rental service. I hope they’ll come back soon!
Review #6: 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…
By Rotation: 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.
Green Glamour: Fashion rental collection of high-end high-street and luxury brands, with a more sustainable approach.
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.
Palanta (Netherlands): Monthly fashion subscription with access to womenswear, maternity clothes, and baby clothes.
Rotaro: Individual item rental service, with dresses, outerwear, and bags.
Satatland: Collaborative, ownership-free fashion rental platform with sustainably made garments on offer.
Great dresses and options, but still rather pricey in my opinion.
I think that’s a fair comment! Fashion rental definitely seems to work best for special occasions rather than as an everyday option.
Hello! I am currently an MA student at the University of the Arts London and I am currently conducting a study related to luxury fashion rental as my final dissertation. It would be incredibly helpful if anyone in the UK who experienced fashion rental could help my research by filling out the below survey. Thank you so much! Xoxo.
Thanks for sharing Alicia! Hopefully readers and renters will find your survey here.
Hi Besma, this is a really interesting review and also good to hear the views of other readers. Personally I agree that renting is more sustainable and the reuse model of business has been cited by the Ellen Macarthur Foundation in their publication ‘Vision of a circular economy’ as a way of promoting a circular economy. Another area of clothing rental which is often overlooked is babywear rental, which helps reduce the amount of babywear which is discarded when a baby outgrows the clothes.
The rental services are the highest users of dry cleaning. I know you mention this, and the carbon content delivery miles, but renting cannot be considered to be sustainable.
The concept also does not help customers build a wardrobe of loved and worn many times pieces – this is the basis of sustainable fashion.
Hi Paulette, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I think fashion rental is an interesting concept, and definitely deserves a place within the sustainable fashion world, but I wouldn’t call it sustainable on its own either. I know certain rental platforms are using more eco-friendly dry cleaning services (such as OxyWash) but that’s still not enough. The one thing I would say is that it reduces the demand for one-off items and clothes for special events that would be left hanging unworn in wardrobes otherwise!
Such a comprehensive list, thanks for putting this together Besma!
I’m always so tight with money I do think renting is such a good way to wear something a little different and of good quality without having to splurge!!
And of course thanks for mentioning me too 🙂
Lots of love,
Thank you Marta, and thanks for your review here too! Love your style so it’s great to see you dabbling with fashion rentals too!