• Lara Pizzato

Renting, reselling and swapping: embracing a new mentality in fashion

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

New business models and a shift in the perception of what is new to consumers are shaking the fashion industry and showing that the industry can be sustainable.

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting and is responsible for 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions - more than all international flights and maritime shipping. Textile dyeing is the second largest polluter of water globally and it takes around 10,000 litres of water to make a new pair of jeans (source UN).

The impact of the industry and our choices doesn’t stop at production. 85% of our clothes end up in landfill and only 1% is recycled, due to the complexity of the fabric and fibres that are in them. In addition, the average person buys 60% more clothes every year and the lifetime of such clothes has halved compared to 15 years ago.

But there’s hope. The sustainability issue is rising stronger than ever on the global agenda across all industries and according to a Deloitte study, 84% of consumers want to buy sustainable products. However mixed factors like the higher prices for these products, greenwashing strategies that confuse people concerning what makes a brand sustainable and an overall lack of transparency, could make us think that the most sustainable choice is to stop buying.

Today we are witnessing the rise of rental, resale and swapping platforms due to an increasing demand for new, affordable and sustainable options, where new no longer means new to the world but new to you, and where you can still look good and feel good about your choices. Extending the lifetime of your clothes is one of the most effective ways to reduce carbon, water and waste footprint by up to 30%.

Some data about the second hand & reselling market

According to thredUP’s extensive 2020 resale report, the secondhand market is set to hit $64B in the next 5 years and overtake the traditional thrift and donation segment by 2024.

In the light of this year’s events with Covid, the hit retail is taking and consumers seeking bargains from home, the online secondhand market is set to grow 69% between 2019 and 2021, while the broader retail sector is projected to shrink 15%. 2 in 3 people who have never sold their clothes are now open to it and the #1 reason is to make money.


Rent the Runway.

First to market in the fashion rental space, Rent the Runway recently got rid of their unlimited rental option as consumers are changing what they wear and how they shop in the midst of the pandemic. RTR now offers plans that provide 4, 8 or 16 items each month and announced plans to permanently close its stores, shifting the focus to digital and expanding their network of drop boxes. The company also recently launched a collaboration with thredUP called "Revive by Rent The Runway," which will "fight fashion waste and quadruple the lifespan of dresses," according to a thredUP blog post. renttherunway.com

By Rotation.

London based startup that just turned 1 and was founded by Eshita Kabra, former investment manager. By Rotation is a peer-to-peer fashion rental app that sits between an “Airbnb for clothes” and a “Vestiaire Collective for renting”. Users on the app can hire luxury designer clothes and accessories from top brands, from £6 per day. Lenders and borrowers are encouraged to engage with each other, in order to build a sense of trust and to lower that barrier that might come with lending or borrowing clothes from a stranger. byrotation.com

HURR Collective.

London-based wardrobe rental platform allows members to share clothes and accessories, securely and in seconds. The company recently launched the HURR Footprint Calculator in partnership with CoGo and users can now see the exact amount of carbon saved by renting on HURR, rather than buying something new. Recently, Selfridges has partnered with HURR Collective to launch its first ever designer fashion rental collection. hurrcollective.com


London-based go-to destination for Generation Z. Depop is a peer-to-peer platform to post and sell (and mainly resell) items, from clothes, sneakers, accessories and more. To date, it has 13M users, according to TechCrunch. The company said that about 90% of its active users are under the age of 26, and in its home market of the U.K. it’s seen huge traction, with one-third of all 16 to 24-year-olds registered on Depop. depop.com

Nu Wardrobe.

Founded by Aisling Byrne in Dublin, after seeing first hand the impact of fast fashion in India. Nu Wardrobe is a community-centred online platform to share clothes with friends and other members, for just £7.99 per month (for roughly the price of a cocktail a month, they say). Each time an item is borrowed or swapped on Nuw, they offset at least 25% of the resources that would have been used in the production of a new item. thenuwardrobe.com

The Real Real.

US based, The RealReal is the leader in authenticated luxury consignment. All items are authenticated through a rigorous process overseen by experts. They developed a custom, first-of-its-kind calculator to measure the greenhouse gasses, energy output and water usage offset by the consignment process since the founding of The RealReal. therealreal.com

Vestiaire Collective.

Founded in Paris in 2009, Vestiaire Collective is the leading online marketplace to buy and sell pre-owned designer clothing and accessories, offering savvy shoppers a new, affordable alternative to the fast fashion shopping habits of recent years. Their authentication fees offer peace of mind and cover the Quality Control checks and services offered by the service. vestiairecollective.com

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