Rented clothes save wardrobe space and keep customers in sync with changing fashion trends. (Adobe stock photo)

Startup style: the smart way of dressing up is to rent your clothes

Lease designer and premium brands from companies that offer attire you can return after wearing for a while

Namrata Kohli | New Delhi

It is the Uber of fashion: rent clothes that you desire but cannot afford to buy. Thanks to startups it is now possible to wear designer and premium brands at a fraction of the cost.

“Renting designer wear upgrades the wardrobe, be it a Salvatore Ferragamo bag or a super expensive Gucci co-ord. Rental fashion gives us the leverage to try out new outfits without shelling out much from our pocket,” says Akshra Dalal, director at JD Institute of Fashion Technology.

“According to a recent report published by Allied Market Research, the global online clothing rental market is estimated to reach USD 1,856 million by 2023, registering a compound annual growth rate of 10.6% from 2017 to 2023. The trend is catching up fast and besides increasing the brand value and recall value for designers among the masses, it’s also providing a surge in their revenue share,” she says.

Rented clothes save wardrobe space and keep customers in sync with changing fashion trends. Delhi-based event industry professional Priyanka Malhotra says renting is better as it helps her access high-end wear without hurting the pocket. “You always have something new to wear rather than repeating the same old wardrobe and styles and predictable fashion that your closet comprises,” says Malhotra.

Clothing rental startups

Companies that rent clothes include Flyrobe, Liberent, The Clothing Rental, Wrap’d, Swishlist, The Dress Bank, The Stylease, Rent An Attire, Kuro, Candidknots, and 101 Hues. The Clothing Rental lends men’s suit in a price range of Rs 4,000 to Rs 30,000. Kuro lends Indian wear such as lehenga and sarees for Rs 1500 to Rs 15,000. Customers can alter clothes to fit and lease for a period of 2-3 days. Wrap’d offline stores in Delhi, Hyderabad and Jaipur rent 15-20 per cent less on the garment price. Clothes are available for 48 hours on a refundable security deposit.

Designers say clothing rental companies have expanded the fashion market. “A designer garment is the fruit of artistic skill, craftsmanship, working with handlooms, hand painting and hand embroidery. This requires immense amounts of toil and time, which is why it might not be within everyone’s resources. But through rentals, I feel more people can celebrate the art and the beauty of the garment and its craftsmanship. I think the concept of designer clothes on rent is a very smart alternative,” says fashion designer Archana Jaju.

Leasing makes sense for clothes you’ll only wear once: bridal lehenga, maternity, adventure gear or seasonal. The wedding market is the biggest for clothing rental companies. Designers say brides and grooms know what they want to wear and their guests assist them in picking outfits. Customers for wedding attire are willing to trying new styles and colors when they rent clothes.

“The fundamental behind renting is ‘rent the iconic and buy the basic’.

A black dress should be bought and for the hot pink lehenga for the best friend’s wedding-rental makes sense. Of course, financially it makes more sense to rent at 10-15 per cent of the MRP than buy it at a full price,” says Aanchal Saini, founder and CEO at Flyrobe.

Saini says seven years ago her customers were an aspirational class, renting purely because of reasons of affordability. Her customers today are millennials who can afford to buy but prefer to rent because of “not wanting to hoard as storage is a hassle.”

Terms and cost

The average order value (AOV) at a clothing rental company is Rs 4,500, says Flyrobe’s Saini. Rentals start at Rs 1,500 and go as high as Rs 1 lakh, depending on the designer label. For men, suits and tuxedos are rented between Rs. 2,000 to Rs. 3,500. Sherwanis and Indo-westerns range from Rs 4,500 to Rs 10,000. Bridal lehengas range between Rs 15,000 and Rs 1 lakh and outfits rented by wedding guests come for Rs 2,500 to Rs 10,000.

Garment quality and originality should be priority for customers. Companies charge a refundable security deposit along with rental, as the value of a product is way higher than the rental amount. Rental policy usually covers for minor wear and tear, mild stains, or sequins falling off, but customer will have to pay from their security deposit if there is major damage to a garment.

JD Institute’s Dalal cautions that a customer must check the terms and conditions for renting services. If there are any problems with the dress after renting it, they must be reported to the provider as soon as possible. At times there are minor errors that even a designer or provider may not have noticed and these can embarrass you at your mega event.

Custom fitting is generally available for women and men need to pick sizes from standard options.

Finally, renting endorses the sustainability movement which has garnered the attention of the global fashion industry. Today, one of the problems plaguing the fashion industry is textile waste. It’s what happens when we buy more clothes, we think we like and then stash them away in our wardrobes only to unearth them years later, find they don’t fit and throw them away.

Think about it: renting means a dress that would have sat in a closet and barely used, can now be worn by 10-20 people before it is discarded. Clothing rental companies say for hygiene after a customer returns clothes, the piece is dry cleaned and steam ironed.

Extending the life cycle of clothing can represent a reduction of 8-10 percent in its carbon, water and waste footprint. Renting is better than buying then, and in vogue.

Company Type of Clothing Price Range (INR per day)
The Clothing Rental Dresses 4400-8000
Lehenga 6000-18000
Men Suit’s 5000
Prewedding 7000-11000
Gown 3600-31000
Flyrobe Anarkali 1680-17920
Ethnic Gown 1620-21240
Ethnic Jacket 1900-9520
Lehenga 1290-94400
Saree 2240-6270
Men Blazer 1010-2570
Indo Western 1450-15620
Rent An Attire Bridal Lehenga 1333-15999
Suit 666-999
Blazer 399-633
Tuxedos 666-999
Kuro Lehenga 834-14667
Anarkali 834-9667
Sarees 834-5000
Menswear 1500-2500
Candidknots Jodhpuri 1499-3198
Men Suit 899-3298
Indo Western & Sherwani 1399-4398
101 Hues Lehenga 2750-7850
Long Top Lehenga 2950-5650
Indian Gown 2150-7850
Western Gown 1250-7450
The Stylease Lehenga 625-10000
Gown 375-1875
Sarees & Blouses 375-3125
Anarkali 625-3125

Source: Business Standard

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