You’ve been searching online and in-store for weeks and FINALLY, there it is…the dream dress. The gamechanger, the dress that will hold you up and in, and create the silhouette you always wanted. It’s a beaut, just the right balance between glam and nonchalance, ‘look at me’ and unbothered chic. The problem? You’ll have to give it back…
By Kiesha Meikle
With so many of us searching for more ethical ways to shop, clothing rental could be the answer to guilt free shopping – that’s only IF we can hand back an Oscar De La Renta...
Fashion rental companies have seen a massive increase in the number of people renting their clothes, shoes and accessories. These increases (of up to 200%) indicate that some of us are changing our buying habits to become more ethical and economical. The questions is, despite the financial savings and benefits to the planet – could you find the dress of your dreams…just to give it back?
In so many ways, my obsession with fashion, wardrobe curation and styling has been a rocky road of ups and downs. Over the years, I have pivoted from complete disinterest to spending hours online scrolling through fashion pieces, to being bored of trends and the expense of it all. I have come full circle to now being obsessed with clothing and styling again. Of course, none of this happened in a vacuum. I was made redundant, had children and focused on being a stay at home mum, then I started my own business…all of these things changed my relationship with fashion and my consumption of it. Fast forward to 2022 and fashion is right back on my agenda.
Traditional Shopping Vs Clothing Rental Companies
Many months ago, I was asked to take some photos of myself in a brand’s clothes for an article – I was lost. It took months for me to work up the balls to do it – that process had me checking blogs, fashion websites and magazines for inspiration. It didn’t make the process any easier, but it did reignite my passion for styling and expression.
Here’s the problem…
I have also realised that buying into the ever changing fashion seasons can be both expensive and wasteful – also, it’s wreaking hell on the planet. I am back to loving fashion again but none of us can ignore the impact it can have on the wallet AND on the planet. According to Banardos, Britons spend billions every year on outfits that will only be worn once before being chucked. This contributes to landfill and is fuelling the textile industry’s 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year. I won’t throw my pieces away for many years, but maybe my new found love of purchasing more and more fashion pieces needs a rethink. The more you know about just how bad things are when it comes to the impact our individual choices are having on the planet, the harder it is to do anything but worry about it.
So, I am wiser but not wise. I am learning but not knowledgeable enough – someone who is much more up to speed is Aja Barber:
‘Aja Barber is a writer, personal stylist and style consultant living in South East London. Her work focuses on sustainability, ethics, intersectional feminism, racism and all the ways systems of power effect our buying habits. She can be found over at her Instagram @ajabarber, microblogging daily.’
Aja Barber is definitely someone to follow if you are interested in learning more around the subject – she is one of the key people who got me thinking more about my buying habits, and the impact of those habits on the world around me.
Clothing rental, guilt-free fashion consumption?
Despite all of this, I am acknowledging my love for curating looks that elevate and express moods and personality – it makes me feel good. FYI: Right now, I really want to feel good. This is why, when I heard about the boom in clothing rental I had mixed feelings about it. Here’s the thing, the amount of time I spend researching (scrolling), from brands who I feel are more sustainable (not easy to find), especially when those items only rarely live up to my expectations (they never look like they do on the model, obvs) – to go through all of this, just to then hand it all back? BABE.
I have to question whether I could honestly find the perfect dress and accessories.. .and then give them all back to a clothing rental company. Not very zen of me, I know but…
When I hit the nail on the head, when I get it right – I get a real rush of endorphins:
- I pay and wait for my packages to be delivered
- Once they arrive I take them out and I try them on
- Then I place them lovingly on my clothing rack and fantasise about all of the times I am going to wear them
- I often walk past this rack of items – whilst cleaning or doing the school prep – and I give them a quick stroke
Now, this all sounds very indulgent and I have to add that I only ever shop for things I feel I will wear – either for an upcoming occasion or event. Again, I also do my best to shop ethically, either on reuse sites or those stores who have committed to ethical practises. I never do fast fashion.
I know I could do better, let’s give it a go…
Guilt free fashion consumption feels like it is a thing of the past, the more we learn the more distant. So maybe the answer really is to wear it once and pass it on. I will be making contact with a few clothing rental companies to try them out in the following weeks. Stay posted, as I will be tracking the process to find out how sustainable this buying model really is and how easy it is to find the perfect dress and give it back in the name of ethical shopping.