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To Rent or Not to Rent clothes - This is the Environmental Dilemma

To Rent or Not to Rent clothes - This is the Environmental Dilemma

You can rent a car, you may live in a rented house and we even used to do this thing where we rented copies of films on DVDs and VHS tapes - but have you ever thought about renting clothes?

Surely it makes sense for higher-end, more formal fashion items that you might only wear on special occasions. It makes big names more affordable and accessible.

Harrods is the latest business to provide a service that lets you rent designer dresses as well as more everyday items. 

They are not the first to think about how we can get more use out of our clothes. We took a quick look at what else is on offer.


Moss Bros

Moss Box is a men’s clothing rental service that provides unlimited access to premium pieces for a flat monthly fee.

Moss Bros offer their suits, jackets and trousers for individual hire as well as subscription boxes. For £65/month you can rent your favourite brands, return them and repeat.


Sprout Collection

 "Rent your dream closet now."

This Canadian brand has a unique "Sprout Collection capsule" system where you choose how often you want a box of clothes to arrive at your front door, what kinds of items you want in there, giving you a month to decide if you return the items or even keep them for 50% off. 



"More joy, less waste".

HURR is a platform where you can either rent clothes or loan some of your wardrobe (and get paid!). For relatively new, higher-end items, they offer a concierge service where you send off your designer gear and HURR do the rest - photography, delivery, dry cleaning. 


It is great to see the number of options for renting clothes, including the subscription boxes which might help to wean fast fashion junkies from their compulsive clobber spending. 

But, what kind of impact does renting clothes have on the environment? Rented fashion does mean that clothes get used more often by a greater number of people. For one-off, high-end items it sounds great - dazzling designer gear wasn't made to sit in a dark wardrobe waiting to be taken to that one party or event.

Finland's LUT University analysed the environmental impact of renting a pair of jeans. They found while renting some jeans would mean lots of use by different people, it could have a negative impact on things like carbon emissions since transporting the goods to different customers inevitably leads to more deliveries or car journeys. Plus you would have to factor in things like dry cleaning.

Still, renting is a good option if people could find a greener way to pick up or ship their rented goods and if the piece of clothing could be re-used around 400 times, according to the study. 

But how many clothes could survive 400-odd uses, especially if they have to be washed, returned and transported somewhere else? A pair of jeans might be tough enough for the task, but more delicate items may not survive enough uses to make it worthwhile.

Another dimension to this is the size of the business that you choose to rent your clothes from. Many smaller fashion brands and clothes rental firms claim to have more sustainable practices, including how they wash clothes or transport them.

How can we squeeze more life out of our clothes?

Reuse. Repair. Upcycle. 

The bottom line is that it is still best to enjoy and appreciate the clothes you already wear and try to maximise the use you get out of them. 

  • Turn old shirts into pillowcases, tote bags, glasses cases

  • Make hats out of old jumpers or sweaters

  • Try out new ways of pairing items, changing things up with accessories

  • Create a fashion statement with visible mending - turning a flaw on its head to give it a unique, hand-made vibe


Check out our interview with Nicole Broad, founder of The Fruit Moth, who gives some great advice about how to create a different look wearing the same dress using accessories. 

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