Clothing was a whole different ballgame before Madison Avenue and mass production. Back in the day, when everything was handmade and the options for materials and embellishments were limited, the whole mindset surrounding clothing was different. It was a mindset that never would have supported the idea of clothing rental. But today, clothing rental is the hottest thing in fashion.
One of the latest clothing rental outfits to make a name for itself is New York-based Seasons NYC. They are the furthest thing from Salt Lake City’s The Stockist boutique. Where The Stockist sells clothing and accessories to anyone who walks in off the street, Seasons NYC rents clothing only to members. Moreover, members must apply and be approved before getting their hands on new digs.
What does all this say about modern society? Plenty. And it’s not all good:
1. We Are Obsessed with Fashion
Style and fashion have always been important to people with the financial means to afford it. But way back when, the average person didn’t have the luxury of building an entire wardrobe around fashion. Clothes were functional. They were utilitarian. Most people had just one set of formal clothes reserved for special occasions.
The whole idea behind clothing rental is to give consumers access to the latest fashions without forcing them to buy new pieces 4 to 8 times per year. Clothing rental is, by design, a fashion enterprise. The fact that so many rental outfits now exist is a testament to the fact that our society is obsessed with fashion.
2. We’re Not Ready to Address Waste
In recent years, a number of fashion industry insiders have been raising concerns about waste. The fashion industry is apparently one of the most wasteful in the world. Unfortunately, clothing rental suggests that we are not ready to address the issue.
To make clothing rental work, companies cannot hold on to pieces that show any signs of wear. The minute there is a stain, the piece is gone. Anything that comes back even slightly faded must be removed from the inventory. Rental outfits may offer to sell unwanted clothing at marked down prices, but they still end up discarding what they cannot sell.
3. We Are Suckers for Branding
Next up, clothing rental is a clear indication that we are suckers for branding. How so? Well, your average clothing rental outfit doesn’t rent generic brands you could buy at the department store. They rent the most expensive brands. What many consumers fail to realize is that they are paying high prices on luxury brands based only on a name.
Like almost everything in the fashion industry, price does not necessarily equal quality. You can buy clothing every bit as good as a luxury brand, at a lower price, if you are willing to go with something off label. Clothing rental exists to get luxury brands into the hands of as many consumers as possible, thereby continuing to promulgate higher price points that would otherwise fail to maintain support.
4. We Are Hooked on Instant Gratification
The icing on the cake is that clothing rental satisfies our need for instant gratification. We need to have the latest styles, and we have to have them right now. Our willingness to constantly turn over our wardrobes fuels a fashion industry that now includes four standard seasons and multiple micro seasons. Most of us couldn’t keep up by buying everything, so now we have the opportunity to rent.
Clothing rental continues to thrive in the modern world. Whether it is good or bad is up to consumers.