- Title: Retailers offer 'rental clothing' for sustainable shoppers
- Date: 18th September 2019
- Summary: WOMAN ON COMPUTER
- Embargoed: 2nd October 2019 14:33
- Keywords: Rent The Runway fashion rental Le Tote sustainable fashion Lisa Batitto
- Location: NEW YORK, NEW YORK / MONTCLAIR, NEW JERSEY / STOCKTON AND SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES / INTERNET
- City: NEW YORK, NEW YORK / MONTCLAIR, NEW JERSEY / STOCKTON AND SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA, UNITED STATES / INTERNET
- Country: USA
- Topics: Company News Markets,Economic Events
- Reuters ID: LVA006AX6O7YX
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Lisa Batitto, 54, says she has virtually stopped buying clothes ever since she started renting them.
The New Jersey-based museum publicist spends $277 (USD) a month on three subscriptions, including one from New York & Company, a women's mid-price clothing chain with hundreds of U.S. stores.
"I really hated to wear the same thing twice. I mean I know it sounds like such a strange problem to have," she said.
"It satisfies that need of wanting something new all the time without actually having to buy something new. And it creates a sustainable lifestyle which is actually really important to me knowing that it's not going to be sitting in my closet. You know someone else can enjoy it. So I just think there's so many benefits to it besides having this endless effort, this endless supply of clothing," Batitto added.
From New York & Company, owned by RTW Retailwinds Inc., to Bloomingdale's and Banana Republic of Gap Inc., more retailers are offering to lend out their clothing for a monthly rental rate.
Even fast-fashion stalwart H&M, with nearly 5,000 stores globally, said in August it would include a limited rental service featuring its premium-priced collection made from recycled fibers in a revamped central Stockholm store.
The services cater to a growing number of people like Batitto who want to purchase just a few items and rent the rest.
But the strategy comes with risks. It costs a lot to ship items back and forth, and it remains to be seen if rental clothes will cannibalize retail sales over the longer term.
Fees roughly range from $50 to $160 per month to rent several items, with an option to buy at a discount. While most services are online, some stores are creating space for people to drop off, browse or collect clothing available for lease.
San Francisco-based fashion rental service Le Tote bought the operations of Lord + Taylor stores from struggling Canadian department store operator Hudson's Bay last month. In the next six to nine months, it will build drop-off lockers and large display areas in 38 Lord + Taylor department stores.
Brett Northart, Le Tote's founder and president, said there is an advantage to physical retail space.
"What we're excited about is to have physical locations where people can come in, touch the product, feel it, try it on and make sure it works. They can discover new brands, new styles online and off line."
He added, "It gives us the ability to attract new customers that may not be familiar with rental. But then also rental has its own limitations. It's tough for us to rent things like shoes, intimates. But we can definitely provide those items for you to buy and complete the look."
Competitor Rent the Runway has expanded its physical drop-off network over the past year with 25 points for customers to return garments in its own stores plus some WeWork locations and Nordstrom stores in the Los Angeles area.
Rent the Runway can turn around an item in as little as a day, a company spokeswoman said. The company opened a 300,000 square foot fulfillment center in Texas in July in addition to its New Jersey facility to deal with increased demand.
Northart said women are changing the way they shop.
"We've seen over the last year or two a lot more services trying to play in the space. And I think that's in response to the demand that the customers want new ways to consume. They don't want the waste. They don't have the physical space in their closet to store all these clothes that they are wearing once or twice," he said.
The U.S. garment rental market, excluding costumes, was worth $1 billion in 2018, less than 1% of the total apparel market, according to GlobalData. But it grew 24% in that year compared to 5% for the wider clothing market, data shows.
(Production: Andrew Hofstetter, Hussein Waaile, Jane Lee, Angela Moore, Melissa Fares, Sonya Dowsett)
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