24 February, 2020
And now it seems fashion rental is going mainstream. H&M – owner of Cos, & Other Stories, Monki and ARKET – is testing a clothing rental and repair service at its flagship store in Stockholm. The service allows customers to rent clothes from a collection of 50 pieces – made from ‘more sustainable materials’ – for 30 days, for the equivalent of £28, after which they must be returned or purchased.
Fast fashion, for which H&M is the poster child, has come under increasingly intense scrutiny over recent months. And H&M’s move (along with the Group’s broader sustainability targets including an ambitious commitment to have a climate positive value chain by 2040), comes at a time of growing criticism of the negative environmental impact of the fashion industry. Fashion is responsible for up to 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined.
The rise of rental could keep fashion affordable and accessible, as well as slowing down the demand for resources, which should have positive knock-on effects all the way down the supply chain. This has certainly worked in the luxury fashion sector. It perhaps takes a bigger leap of the imagination to see this service working across all H&M’s lines (particularly those made from less sustainable materials at a much lower cost). But H&M’s pilot, along with its broader sustainability strategy, is certainly a good start to slowing the fashion industry right down.