By Lindsey Poole
As Gen Z continues to shift towards more sustainable fashion practices, clothing rental companies are on the rise. According to Refinery29, one in three young women consider clothes to be ‘old’ after just one to two wears. Rent the Runway, Nuuly, and FashionPass seek to solve this problem by providing young adults with affordable ways to keep up with current trends. All three of these rental services provide customers with freshly cleaned, high-end clothing at their doorstep. Personally, I’m a fan of these subscription services as I find myself gravitating towards bright, statement pieces as I search for new clothing. I often find myself seeking new clothing for events, seasons, and am a general fashion aficionado. I know that my fashion tastes are ever changing and generally opt for renting as opposed to buying. Unfortunately, my bank account doesn’t match these habits. While I enjoy thrifting and second-hand shopping from sites like Depop and Poshmark, these ease of using rental services is hard to beat. The services are a bit costly, but when you compare pricing to new clothing made with sustainable practices, I prefer rentals.
Rent the Runway (RTR) was co-founded by Harvard MBA graduates Jenny Fleiss and Jenn Hyman in 2009. RTR was the first clothing rental service to enter the market. Jenny and Jenn solidified their idea to create Rent the Runway after a successful pop-up on Harvard’s campus. This company has always been rooted the fashion needs of young adults, and more specifically, college students.
Rent the Runway offers one-time rentals for either 4 or 8 days and 4, 8, and 16 item subscription plans. RTR allows users to have 4 items at a time and depending on the plan, users may swap throughout the month. The 4 item plan is $69/month for one trial month and $94/month thereafter, the 8 item plan is $99/month for 2 months and $144/month thereafter, and the 16 item plan is $149/month for 2 months and $235 /month thereafter. This price includes clothing insurance, shipping, returns, and dry cleaning. RTR offers student discounts on the 4 item plan, but this plan is restricted to a limited access of clothing and accessory options. Rent the Runway offers a variety of clothing, jewelry, handbags, and sunglasses.
Nuuly offers one subscription plan that includes any 6 items for $88/month. Like RTR, this price includes shipping, returns, and coverage of any small stains or damage to the clothing. Nuuly’s subscriptions features dresses, sweaters, denim, outerwear, and other clothing pieces. There is no commitment requirement and you can cancel or pause your membership at any time.
FashionPass offers multiple subscription plans that all allow unlimited swaps throughout the month. They vary in price due to how many items users may have at once. The Socialite plan includes 2 clothing items and 1 accessory for $49/month for the first month and $79/month thereafter. The Trendsetter plan includes 3 clothing items and 2 accessories for $79/month for the first month and $109/month thereafter. The Wanderlust plan includes 4 clothing items and 3 accessories for $109//month for the first month and $139/month thereafter. Shipping, returns, dry cleaning, and coverage of standard wear-and-tear are covered by all FashionPass’ subscription plans.
With all of these services, the items rented are available for purchase at a discounted rate. Renting provides a fun, simple, yet more sustainable way to find statement pieces of clothing or a pair of go-to denim. I prefer purchasing essentials and using rental services to create a continuously rotating closet, without breaking the bank.
On a smaller scale, within the UNC community, the Facebook group “Rent the Triangle” connects young adults across the Triangle renting out their cocktail and formal dresses for various events. Renters provide pictures of the dress or item of clothing and a rental fee. This Gen Z powered group aims to provide clothing for events at more reasonable prices than other large-scale rental platforms.
As Gen Z examines their shopping habits with regard to sustainability impact, consider renting clothing from subscription services, community groups, or accquaintances. This practice can minimize garment production while providing clothing that may not be new, but is ‘new’ to you.