The idea of wearing pre-worn clothing was once reserved for thrift store fanatics and parents that practice the subtle art of hand-me-downs. However, as climate change began to become a real topic that real people were interested in, in addition to being encouraged by the burgeoning rental economy for things like movies, housing, and music, consumers no longer felt like they had to own something to see the value in it. As a result, we're currently in the early stages of the clothing version of the streaming wars the entertainment industry is currently engaged in.
Although they each have their own unique selling point, what every fashion rental startup has in common is their aim to capitalize off of millennial behavior. Research by environmental charity Hubbub, for instance, found that 41 percent of all 18-25 year-olds feel the pressure to wear a different outfit every time they go out, while one in six said that they didn’t feel they could wear an outfit again once it had been seen on social media. Additionally, as alluded to earlier, renting clothes has the potential to address the pervasive environmental problems that the fashion industry poses.
If you're looking to make the switch to renting instead of buying clothes, we've put together a handy guide to the biggest fashion rental companies around. While some of the most noteworthy — like Rent the Runway — only focus on women's clothing, here's what we've found when it comes to the best men's rental services with a streetwear twist. Of course if formal renting isn't for you just yet, you can always participate in recommerce by buying and selling on sites like eBay, Grailed, and Depop.
Primary focus: sneakers Key brands: YEEZY, Balenciaga, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Balmain Price: $150, $250, or $350 a month
LSWOP, short for Luxury Swop, focuses solely on the sneaker marketplace — specifically high-end pieces from couture houses. Their three-tiered subscription model allows customers to either rent one, two, or three sneakers a month for a period of four days. When the shoes arrive, they come in a custom wood box with 3M sole protector and a complimentary pair of socks. To ensure that each shoe is as close to deadstock as possible, no pair is sent out more than twice. After that, the shoes are discounted from their original retail price to entice subscribers to purchase what is essentially a heavily marked down designer shoe.
LSWOP's founders liken the experience to renting a car. A credit card hold takes place once the shoes are sent out, and if something catastrophic were to happen, the person would be charged accordingly. According to their terms of service, if a product is returned to LSWOP without the sole protector or with unclean soles, a cleaning fee of $50 will be assessed to the member. If soles are beyond cleaning or repair, the above policy and penalty for damaged products will apply to the member.
The service makes it a point to note that LSWOP is by invitation only, stating, "We’re very selective about who we rent the shoes to, but we’re not excluding anyone."
Primary focus: clothing, accessories, sneakers Key brands: Jordan, Acne Studios YEEZY, Balenciaga, Balmain, Burberry, Gucci, Maison Margiela, Needles, Fear of God, Off-White™, Palace, Prada, Stone Island, Supreme Price: sneakers $25 a day, jackets $45 a day, hoodies $45 a day
Although prices vary at The Mercer Club, their model is based on the idea that a person can wear something that would usually be out of their price range. For example, they offer a $2,500 Gucci Satin Bomber that can be rented for $45 a day, while a more affordable $620 nylon Acne Studios costs the same price to rent. Perhaps most unique about Mercer Club is their aim to make pieces available to rent on the same day they drop in retail stores and online.
“The classic Supreme box logo will always be desirable, but the majority of our stuff is highly seasonal,” said Travis Ezidiegwu, co-founder of The Mercer Club. “You get things right as they come out. I think that’s important for a lot of people.”
The Mercer Club also acknowledges their role in creating a more sustainable path forward for the fashion industry. With every purchase of a T-shirt, they plant a tree in North America.
Primary focus: clothing Key brands: Balenciaga, Aimé Leon Dore, Yohji Yamamoto, Valentino, Helmut Lang, Gucci, Raf Simons, Junya Watanabe, Palm Angels, Off-White™, Versace, Stone Island Pricing: 10 percent of product's retail value, $195 for monthly unlimited
Unlike other platforms, Rotarity lets you keep your rented items for up to 15 days at a time. However, their pricing structure varies more than its competitors. Thus, a jacket could range from $269 for something by Gucci, to $327 for a Barocco Printed Jacket from Versace. For those looking for more of a regimented payment system, Rotarity's unlimited monthly subscription allows users to take out 4-5 pieces at a time.
Shipping, returns, and dry cleaning is all free on orders over $100. And like LSWOP's model, they offer discounted pricing for those wanting to add a piece to their collection permanently. Rotarity's biggest drawback at the moment is that they only ship to the United States.
Primary focus: watches Key brands: Rolex, Anonimo, Breitling, Cartier, Omega, Panerai Pricing: Per item based on daily rate, discounted rental prices for Watch Club members
A major watch purchase can seem like it's only reserved for the top 1 percent — and with good reason — as a luxury piece can often carry the same price tag as a moderately priced automobile. Borrowed Time allows people to dip their toes in the world of Rolex, Cartier, Panerai and others for what could equate to one's allocated monthly budget for food.
Consider a watch staple like the Rolex Submariner which carries a retail price of $9,050. For $80 dollars a day, a person can give it a spin for a time frame of either four, seven, 10, 15, or 30 days. Borrowed Time then gives subscribers the option to buy the piece for $7,900.
Watch club members receive a 20% discount off the daily borrowing rate. They also have the added bonus of earning 25% equity while borrowing which can be applied towards watch or accessory purchases, daily borrowing, or borrowing packages.
Primary focus: clothing Key brands: Y-3, Opening Ceremony, COMME des GARCONS PLAY, RHUDE, Carhartt WIP, Stone Island, Heron Preston, Off-White™, PLEASURES, YEEZY, Fear of God Pricing: fixed $89 per month rate
While The Rotation is a relatively new rental service, their pricing model and selection of clothing falls in line with similar platforms. For $89 a month, a person can take out up to two pieces at a time. Using pre-paid labels — and two day shipping — people are free to return and receive as many pieces as they want. They also offer offer discounts for users who wish to buy the item they're currently renting. The deeper into the season, the more used the item is, and the longer the user has held the item all work to increase the discount.