From the affordability of clothing to #ootd culture and the expectation that we must have a new outfit for every occasion, our rapacious shopping habits are having an undeniable impact on the planet.
Britons throw away a whopping £140m worth of wearable clothes each year and demand for raw materials is expected to triple by 2050, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP). But that’s not all – the textile industry is said to be the second-largest polluter, responsible for 92 million tonnes of waste annually.
Many of us are slowly reconsidering our approach to fashion and style, with a stronger focus on more sustainable practices. Whether this is the case for you, or you’re simply looking for a more eco-friendly approach to your wardrobe, allow us to introduce you to the world of clothing rentals. All things considered, these services provide an ideal alternative to investing in the perpetual cycle of fast fashion.
The premise behind fashion rental services is simple. Subscription-based and pay-per-hire services operate by companies owning stock and leasing pieces centrally at a discounted rate for a limited period of time. Want to get your hands on a vintage Chanel bag but simply can’t justify the price tag? Hire one from Cocoon Club.
Another option is peer-to-peer rental services, considered the “Airbnb of fashion”. These work by giving people a place to upload clothing from their own wardrobe and renting them out, allowing you to monetise from your own items. There has already been a surge in popularity when it comes to these companies: Hurr Collective, a peer-to-peer clothing rental service, has seen an 850 per cent year-on-year growth in registered users from the start of the pandemic, with engagement across the platform at an all-time high.
While the idea behind these clothes rental services is to offer you a way to be more sustainable, they also serve as a way for you to access designer garb that you couldn’t ordinarily afford. Similarly, they’re great if you’re looking for something for a special occasion that you think you may only wear once – be that a wedding, graduation or a big birthday. Or perhaps you just want to inject some newness in your wardrobe, they’re perfect for that too.
Of course, it’s worth noting that while these services are doing bits to tackle fashion’s sustainability problem and offer a circular economy, inclusive sizing remains a big problem: the limited plus-sized pieces mean that they are not accessible to all. While steps are being taken to provide greater inclusivity, we think more must be done to make this a truly sustainable model.
To help you decide which service you should use, we’ve tried and tested our favourites.
How we tested
When it came to testing the best rental services, we wanted the websites to offer a large amount of choice in terms of clothing and designers. Similarly, we assessed how easy each one was to use because no one wants something that isn’t user-friendly. Finally, we looked at the size ranges on offer.
If you’re looking to be more circular when it comes to your wardrobe, meet your new best friends.
The best fashion rental services in the UK are:
- Best overall – Hurr Collective, Hurrcollective.com
- Best for designer dresses – Rotaro.co.uk
- Best for accessories – Cocoon Club, Cocoon.club
- Best peer-to-peer service – By Rotation, Byrotation.com
- Best for designers – My Wardrobe HQ, Mywardrobehq.com
- Best affordable service – Hirestreet, Hirestreetuk.com
- Best for basics – Baukjen, Baukjen.com
- Best for buying pre-loved clothing – Endless Wardrobe, Endlesswardrobe.com
Founded in 2018 by Victoria Prew and Matthew Geleta, Hurr falls into the peer-to-peer category and provides a place for people to monetise their wardrobes, as well as wearing high-end clothing without damaging their bank accounts or the planet in the process.
Geo-tagging and real-time ID verification make for a painless process. Hurr is now also on a mission to make sure its platform is more size-inclusive; Prew told The Independent that the platform has added “a number of leading plus-size fashion brands have signed up to join the pledge and rent exclusively for Hurr, including WRAY, Kai Collective, Loud Bodies, Lora Gene, Selkie, Anna Scholz and The Hour.”
The noteworthy aspects of Hurr are endless. It is frequently partnering with big-name brands, for example, you can rent Ganni pieces both past and present on the app. Similarly, should the idea of borrowing clothes from celebs and influencers appeal to you, you can do that too, with the likes of Lucy Williams and India Sehmi renting out their wardrobes. The fun doesn’t stop there though, because you can even rent in-store at Selfridges.
Best: For wedding guess dress
With pieces from cult labels such as Cecilie Bahnsen and Rixo, Rotaro is a great choice if you’re looking to rent something that has the serious wow factor for special occasions, be that a wedding or birthday. Similarly, should you be getting hitched, it has a handy section dedicated to bridalwear.
The service really excels in sustainability and it’s a completely seamless process. The packaging is biodegradable and recyclable, the delivery is completed via a carbon-neutral courier and items are laundered using wet-washing, a more eco-friendly alternative to dry cleaning.
Stock is held centrally, meaning customers can benefit from next day delivery across the UK, perfect for a last-minute outfit mishap. With no subscription fee and at a reasonable price point per piece, it provides an affordable (and sustainable) way to wear designer garb.
It also has a dedicated resale platform, where you can buy pre-loved pieces at very affordable prices.
Best: For accessories
A subscription-based service for handbag lovers; for as little as £79 per month Cocoon Club gives you access to a selection of the most sought-after handbags, from new season favourites to vintage classics. With your new rented goods arriving within a day of ordering, this sleek service won’t keep you waiting.
One complimentary bag swap is included as standard, though members can keep their bag for up to six months. We are obsessed with this circular solution to the luxury accessories industry. What’s more, if you have a designer handbag that’s collecting dust in your wardrobe, you can sell it directly to Cocoon – you’ll either receive money or credit. Similarly, to bolster its circular approach to accessories one step further, it has a resale platform where you find vintage and preloved designers, from Gucci to Chanel.
Best: Peer-to-peer wardrobe rental
The first 100 per cent peer-to-peer service via an app, By Rotation prides itself on its community-focused approach. Lenders have full control over pricing and rental periods, as well as discounts they wish to offer. Communication between lenders and renters is all done through the app. One slight gripe we noticed from renting our own wardrobe is the lack of clarity if an item is not returned. Thankfully, in our case, it was a seamless process, but we are aware this may happen to others.
If sharing your wardrobe isn’t your jam, fear not, you needn’t list your clothes to rent from others. The app is particularly user-friendly and we like the way the homepage is split into different edits, including what’s trending, wedding guest outfits, going out and graduation. It’s these small touches that make browsing a dreamy process.
Similarly to the Hurr Collective, this gives you access to some of the best-known influencers, including Camille Charriere, Jessie Bush and Abisola Omole.
My Wardrobe HQ
Best: For designers
Combining stock from the wardrobes of celebrities and influencers including Arizona Muse, Poppy Delevingne and its brand partners, such as Stella McCartney and Chanel, My Wardrobe HQ has a fantastic range of occasionwear. While you can expect to have access to top designers, such as Victoria Beckham, Chanel and Celine, it similarly offers items from more affordable labels, including Realisation Par and Rixo.
Its come on leaps and bounds since it was first founded and has collaborated with Burberry to provide the brand’s first rental and resale offering in the UK. Similarly, it has an ongoing partnership with Harrods, offering you the chance to rent the designers stocked at the department store.
Should you be wanting to make an investment, you can also purchase accessories and clothing directly from My Wardrobe HQ.
Best: Affordable service
Founded by Isabella West, this wardrobe rental service offers a more high street focus, with M&S having recently dropped rentable stock on the platform. It’s therefore a more affordable option, with the average price per hire around £15.
Another great feature about the service is its bundle option where you can rent three different pieces for £50 across a 30-day rental period. It serves as a great option if you’re looking to inject a bit of newness into your wardrobe, without damaging the planet yet still getting that online shopping buzz. If you’re accident-prone, for an additional £4 you can add insurance to cover minor stains and accidental damage.
Best: For basics
There’s no denying that Baukjen is a great destination for the eco-conscious among us (that’s most of us, right?), and thanks to its environmental and sustainable focus, it’s a certified B Corp: a company that meets the highest standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability.
Committed to reducing its impact on the environment, Baujken launched a clothing rental platform whereby you can rent everything from dresses to jackets for as little as £13 for two weeks. The size range goes up to a UK size 18 – while of course, this isn’t entirely inclusive, it’s an improvement on some of its competitors.
Best: For buying pre-loved clothing
It’s rare for a wardrobe rental service to offer you the opportunity to buy the pieces you’ve fallen in love with, which is Endless Wardrobe’s USP – offering clothing in three options: rent, buy new or buy nearly-new. Working directly with brands, it handles the care of all of the clothing. With high street brands as well as designer labels on offer, we were impressed with this option – certainly a great one to bookmark for any upcoming weddings.
The verdict: Wardrobe rental services
Bringing together all the important elements of a perfect wardrobe rental, Hurr provides seamless and sustainable service, as well as offering curated edits from influencers and celebrities. Its push towards greater size inclusivity is promising, and certainly a step in the right direction. We can’t wait to see more in the future.
For the latest fashion discounts, try the links below:
On the hunt for a more sustainable fashion route for childrenswear? Read our review of the best kids’ clothing rental services