Earlier this year we witnessed stores like Urban Outfitters, Loft and American Eagle enter the game of wardrobe rentals. Recently coined by Vogue as the “year of the rental,” fashion has taken an interesting turn in 2019, as retailers scramble to grasp that 20-somethings no longer want to own their wardrobes. For this generation, renting is the new black.
Rent the Runway was one of the original disruptors — making it oh-so-cool and fashionable to rent designer clothing on a dime. Forgoing the urge to splurge, women were now encouraged to don previously worn duds to work, to parties and to galas. No one would ever know that Sarah in Frisco or Dawn in Deep Ellum wore the same dress just several days before.
For the city of Dallas, where Sunday brunch (depending on the neighborhood) is an all-out stiletto-stomping affair, the question begs if many will adopt the rental model or will owning (in a city known for its shopping) remain king?
“Fashion clothing and accessories rentals are the hottest thing,” said Rhonda Sargent-Chambers, co-executive director for Fashion Group International of Dallas and Owner of RSC Productions. “Rentals have excelled in the last six years to span lower moderate to higher moderate incomes. Many Dallas people that I know who are in high-profile positions and who have multiple interviews and events to attend, have started renting.”
While it may be the “hautest” thing for Dallasites to vogue-ishly borrow for social and gala season, Sargent-Chambers sees consumers still purchasing athletic wear, casual wear and sportswear. Makes sense. Nothing screams fashionista more than previously sweated-in yoga pants.
However, two Dallas-based startups are tackling the market and are laser-focused on converting skeptics and darling Dallas divas, one rotating garment at a time. Both Rent My Wardrobe and Parcel22 believe in an even broader scope to wardrobe rental options, even looping casual wear, not just luxury goods, into the rotation.
“I predict anything outside of athletic clothes and undergarments will not be owned in 10 years,” claimed Rachel Sipperley, founder of Rent My Wardrobe. “The sharing economy is happening in every other vertical, so it only makes sense that fashion would follow suit. Women don’t want to wear the same thing twice, especially when our lives are documented on Instagram.”
It’s this very theory that has made the launch of the Rent My Wardrobe app successful. Distinguished as a peer-to-peer platform, users can rent coveted items from their favorite fashion influencers or bloggers, Real Housewives or even the girl next door — literally. On the flip side, with a snap, click and an upload of one’s own items into the app, profits of up to $500 per month can be made, thereby making Rent My Wardrobe not only the “Airbnb of wardrobe rentals” as Sipperley would categorize it, but also the gateway to entrepreneurship.
Generation Z has been the most recent target of the shared economy, as well as the ideal customer for wardrobe renting — and no, it has absolutely nothing to do with income.
As the “most photographed generation in the world’s history,” as Gen Z expert Jason Dorsey says, Gen Z'ers will always need something new to post to the ‘gram, and in a roundabout way, they view the process as socially responsible and sustainable.
“Gen Zs are more about showing off their individuality,” said Natasha August, founder of rental wardrobe subscription company Parcel22. “They prefer trends that can be shown off on social media. Rental services like Parcel22 allow just that as we provide access to ever-changing wardrobes and a variety of styles, whereas owning is more expensive and restrictive.”
And then there’s the Marie Kondo idea of wardrobes that Gen Z'ers are adopting as well. “Minimalism is popular with Gen Z. The idea is all about living with less … and promoting the reduction of clutter that doesn’t add value to your life, i.e. living more green.”
Dallas-based Parcel22 was one of the first businesses to offer a subscription model for wardrobe rental services, specifically targeting Gen Z. Boasting accessibility and ease, subscribers curate online wardrobes via “Parcels” and later rotate these pieces after use for newer items on an unlimited basis. And to add the Amazon touch, Parcels are delivered right to their front doors.
“It’s all about convenience now," offered Jewels Clark, creator of young creatives group How To Be Social. "Why would I spend my gas, my time and my money to find one or two shirts? I can spend the same — sometimes less — money and have it delivered straight to my doorstep. The fact is, it’s easier and less of a hassle.”
Whether GenZ, the socialite or the girl or guy next door, someone, somewhere is renting. As Dallas businesses capitalize on the trend, it’s safe to say that renting is hot — owning, maybe not.