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Fashion's New Sharing Economy | WMI

Fashion's New Sharing Economy | WMI

22 Jul 2016 Ann D'Adamo

in Fashion,


Fast fashion has allowed women to purchase inexpensive and on-trend clothes at wallet-friendly prices. But after years of sacrificing quality for quantity, they’re starting to wonder if it’s worth it. Environmentally aware consumers are concerned about the amount of waste and questionable labor practices involved in getting these clothes to market quickly, as well as piles of discarded merchandise. So, what’s a conservation-minded fashionista to do?

Work it, don’t own it

Rent the Runway, a service that began renting cocktail dresses and ball gowns to women, recently launched Unlimited, a subscription service that allows consumers to rent three pieces of designer clothing for $139 per month. Described as “Netflix for high-fashion apparel,” the company targets upscale career women with the promise of exclusive designer labels and the latest styles at a fraction of the cost of owning even just one piece. Will the sharing model that works so well with services like Airbnb and Zip Car translate to something as personal as apparel? The answer is yes—Rent the Runway had a waitlist of 40,000 shortly after Unlimited launched.

The effect at retail

There’s no doubt that fashion brands and retailers have been struggling and some fear that a sharing-economy for clothing could tip the scales that much more. But analysts believe that the small segment of women who would invest in a service like Unlimited would not significantly impact retail. In fact, the potential to introduce emerging fashion brands and new designers to influential women who are more likely to subscribe to Unlimited is greater than the threat itself.

Eco-friendly and sustainable

Advocates for environmental protection estimate that clothing and other textiles represents 5% of waste in landfills; and Americans dispose of an incredible 70 pounds of clothing each year. Apparel rental services, such as Unlimited, offer an eco-friendly complement to fast fashion. Millennial and Generation Z consumers place more of an emphasis on environmental causes and are more frugal than other generations, placing them front and center for these new sharing services.

More important, Unlimited and services like it, are disrupting the consumer’s mindset and making them question whether owning fashion is actually that important. Shifts in the way consumers are shopping, at retail and on mobile are changing the way brands are marketing to women. Contact Women’s Marketing today to learn how the fashion consumer is shopping and get exclusive insights into developing a strategic media plan to reach them.

Sources: Retail Dive How Renting Clothes Could User in A New Idea of Ownership, June 2016; Fast Company Rent the Runway Launches Unlimited Service, June 2016