Circular Fashion

How can clothing rental be made more sustainable?

Clothing rental was heralded as the future of circular fashion. Then came the negative press. Shipping, cleaning and disposal of clothing at end of life made us reassess rental's green credentials. So where does that leave us? Is rental as sustainable as we first thought and what can brands do to make rental a meaningful part of their circularity roadmap. We take a look.

There was a moment when fashion rental seemed to be the panacea for a world where, according to a survey by Barnardos in 2019, a third of young British women considered clothes old after just one or two wears. 

Then came a 2021 study published in the journal of Environmental Research Letters that concluded that rental models had the highest green house gas emissions of all circular business models and even more than buying a pair of jeans and throwing them away! Cue a slew of negative headline…

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Gemma Metheringham

Creative Director/Founder at The Elephant in my Wardrobe