Harrods launches fashion rental service in Knightsbridge store

After Carrie Johnson’s wedding, she wore a rental gown, the buzz surrounding rented clothes has increased.

It was a fashion craze when Carrie Johnson wore a rented dress to marry the prime minister. A study this week revealed that renting clothes is worse for the planet than throwing them away.

Now one of the world’s most famous department stores, Harrods, is launching its first fashion rental service. It will partner with My Wardrobe HQ which supplied Johnson’s wedding gown.

Carrie and Boris Johnson after their wedding in May. Photograph: Reuters

Even though fashion rental has been around since the 1990s, it is now more prominent than ever. Jane Shepherdson, who has been chair of My Wardrobe HQ since 2019, stated that it felt like it had been a difficult struggle to raise awareness at the time. Strangely, the pandemic was talked about a lot by people, despite not being able to rent or attending events.

She attributes the success to shifts in wider consumer habits. “We all do Airbnb and we are happy to share other people’s beds. So why not share our clothes?”

As one solution to the industry’s sustainability crisis, fashion rental has been proposed. Wrap estimates that there are approximately PS140m worth used clothes going to landfill each year in the UK. Renting can extend clothing’s lifespan. The study by Environmental Research Letters in Finland this week showed the hidden environmental cost of shipping and packaging.

Renting clothes is not only sustainable, but it also allows customers to have access to clothing they might not otherwise be able afford. Shepherdson stated that while most people can’t afford to buy a PS3,000 Gucci suit, they could rent one for PS30 per day.

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