The rental market now establishes itself as an obvious route and a sustainable alternative
Over the four days of Impact, the new eco-friendly fashion rendez-vous in Paris, which took place in early September, more than 100 speakers declared their faith in a new fashion industry and a sustainable and fair system. Four days of exchanges, sharing and collaborations fighting for fashion and its future, for the industry and climate emergency. Faced with these new economic and environmental considerations, other modes of consumption have appeared. If second-hand and upcycling are proven fashion and luxury trends already visible on the highest levels then the rental market now establishes itself as an obvious route. A sustainable alternative.
Welcome to the era of sharing. The end of ownership? The trend draws, in any case, the outlines of a world where renting seems to dominate consumer choice. Is it therefore the end of property, the cornerstone of the consumer society? Is the disposable trend, initiated by the years of fast-fashion, being overtaken by a more circular economy? A big problem that the following individuals tried to answer: Agathe Cuvelier, the founder of Cachotières, Lucie Soulard from Place2Swap, Ludovic Quinault from the brand SKFK and Pierre-Arnaud Grenade from BA&SH, moderated by Pierre-Nicolas Hurstel from Arianee.
After the food, film, music and transport industries; after Deliveroo, Netflix, Spotify, Uber or even Blablacar: fashion, the eternal rebel, could no longer ignore this new consumption pattern. Today, renting continues to attract a bigger and bigger clientele: unstable millennials, fashion addicts and forward-thinking citizens. The economic crisis, the climate issue, the reconsideration of globalised hyper-consumption are all factors which have pushed towards a shift in customer values. Alongside this, the growing nomadism of society, the fast-living, the dictatorship of instantaneity and image that has favoured emergence of an ever faster and wayward fashion world. Faced with the increasing obsolescence of tastes and desires, renting clothes became a fashion alternative: economic, responsible and sustainable. “Our best clients are already in ‘non-possession.’ They all know the topic well and share well established values. As of now, they do nothing but rent,” exclaims Agathe Cuvelier from Cachotières which rent evening dresses. So the sharing trends would mean a short-term philosophy? Admittedly, fast-fashion had already adopted this philosophy, but through planned obsolescence. Whilst some fashion addicts have already embraced it, the majority are still getting to grips with it.
“Today renting is no more than a trend, it’s not a tsunami yet,” explains Ludovic Quinault, founder of the eco-friendly brand SKFK. For the moment it is about finding a viable model, renting can be a complex market, mastering the logistics and technologies is a prerequisite. To summarise, you have to invest a lot to make profit. The transatlantic reference from Rent The Runway, the fashion garments rental specialist start-up with a company valued at 1 billion dollars with more than 9 million users, since its launch in 2009. A very promising market, now unmissable, that the brands and luxury fashion are watching carefully.
With the digital and the increase in mass markets, brands are attempting to adapt to this trend. The objective: to reintegrate this model into their own brands in order to assimilate themselves into the circular economy in a sustainable manner. This is what Place2Swap is offering to brands, to integrate the second-hand market into their economic model. This is also the gamble at ba&sh who, strengthened by their digital transition, now offer this rental service to their clients. “A coherent project with the ba&sh identity,” notes Pierre-Arnaud Grenade, “It is also a way to connect with our clients in the long-term.” A real challenge.
“As of now, the consumer is looking for a unique product which represents them and expresses their personality,” concludes Lucie Soular from Place2Swap. Clothing is an identity marker and renting offers the possibility for infinite looks and reinvention. A sharing economy serving the creativity and personality of the client. “Creativity, is the number one reason for renting,” explains Ludovic Quinault. Fashion changing with fantasies, trends and seasons. Furthermore, fashion that lives as an experience. Judging by the multitude of start-ups and brands which have launched and succeeded in this sector - Cachotières, Panoply, Couture Market, Une Robe Un Soir… - renting could in fact become a real Eldorado.