Traditional retailers join growing rental market

  • Friday 20, September 2019 11:47 AM
Sharjah 24 – Reuters: Growing interest in renting even everyday clothing such as jeans and athletic wear is drawing mall retailers to experiment with selling apparel rental subscriptions.
Lisa Batitto, rental service subscriber, said, "This is a really fun weekend dress." Lisa Batitto hates wearing the same thing twice.

"These are the dresses like if you go into Saks 5th Avenue and you look at them and you're like 'who can buy those?' Now you don't have to. You can just rent them."

"If I had wanted to buy a dress for a special occasion, you'd at least spend $100-$150. But now I can get multiple items for that price," Lisa Batitto continued.

Her subscription to Rent the Runway, Haverdash and New York and Company Closet gives her access to 3 virtual closets with - what feels like endless options, delivered right to her doorstep.

"A nice way to get designer clothes without designer prices."

From Macy's to Banana Republic to Urban Outfitter's- a wave of leading brands and department stores are lending out their clothing for a monthly rate -- all catering to the growing rental retail trend, with consumers borrowing everything from formal dresses to denim to even athleisure.

Le Tote co-founder Brett Northart said, "People are wearing it once, posting it on Instagram and feel this pressure they can't wear it again. So they're looking for alternative ways than buying a bunch of things that they're literally only going to wear one time."

That's Brett Northart, co-founder and president of San Francisco based Le Tote, the fashion rental company that last month acquired the operations of Lord + Taylor, the luxury department store chain.

It plans to use the space from 38 of the stores to display rental stock and build drop-off lockers.

"What we're excited about is to have physical locations where people can come and touch the product, feel it try it on and make sure it works. They can discover new brands new styles online and offline and also we'll have physical locations to tell people about our service. So it gives us the ability to attract new customers that may not be familiar with rental," Brett Northart added.

The move will also help Le Tote reduce its biggest cost: shipping, since the stores will serve as touch points for customers to pick up and drop off.

While the rental retail model represents less than 1% of the total apparel market, according to GlobalData, it is seeing double digit growth, fueled by people like Batitto, who hasn't bought an item in store since last Spring.