We love it even though we shouldn’t. It’s the equivalent of the final Jäger Bomb you know you should say no to, the quick walk in the sun without SPF you tell yourself will definitely be fine, the slightly soggy looking veg that’s got lost in the back of the fridge. That’s right, we’re talking about fast fashion, which can oftentimes feel like going against everything you know better than but still lures you in regardless. And in moderation, all of these things are fine, they serve a purpose and they are necessary (not so much the Jäger Bomb). But perhaps as our priorities change and the impact we leave on our planet becomes more pressing, the need for alternatives becomes necessary too- because stopping shopping altogether isn’t going to happen, but lessening our impact on the environment and embracing slow fashion absolutely can.
Ultimately, the appeal of fast fashion is the low price, making it achievable to keep up with ever-quickening trends without breaking the bank.
To put it into context, “textile production contributes more to climate change than international aviation and shipping combined”. Sadly, as much as we painstakingly separate our recycling and take the bus instead of hopping in the car, if we continue shopping from brands that turnover clothing lines at super speed and encourage a throwaway attitude to clothing consumption, we will never get to the root of climate crisis. Ultimately, the appeal of fast fashion is the low price, making it achievable to keep up with ever-quickening trends without breaking the bank and social media, especially our dear toxic friend Instagram, which absolutely plays a role in fuelling this disposable mentality. Research shows “one in three young women, the biggest segment of consumers, consider garments worn once or twice to be old”- a mindset often bolstered by the fear of outfit repeating on the grid.
Sounds bad, huh? We have a solution. Rental fashion and made-to-order garments are here to help, offering a way to look 10/10 stylish but without the same guilt, and they’re taking the fashion world by storm. Alongside shopping second hand, these alternatives to shopping cheap and oftentimes poorly made clothes mean you can consume fashion and switch up your wardrobe without the environmental or human rights impact that is inescapable in fast fashion.
So, let’s break them down…
What is rental fashion?
The world of rental fashion gained popularity stateside mainly thanks to the website Rent the Runway, which changed the way consumers thought about shopping forever, and the concept has slowly trickled across to the UK, becoming notably popular during lockdown 1 of 2020.
Different rental platforms operate in different ways, but their purpose remains the same: to allow shoppers to rent designer clothing items or accessories for a set time period and at a fraction of the price. Some websites operate on a peer-to-peer basis in which individual shoppers offer items from their wardrobes to independent renters, whereas other business models authenticate stock from brands and hold and manage the process of cleaning, sending and returning themselves.
How it works…
The cost of renting depends on the garment, seller and how long you hire the item for, however it always works out at a fraction of the RRP meaning you can get your hands on coveted brands without denting your bank balance. Peer-to-peer rental service Hurr says items are normally available for 20% of the RRP and include brands such as Rixo, Ganni, Shrimps, Stine Goya and Realisation Par- some of the coolest, chicest names in the biz!
Peer-to-peer services are responsible for accepting, posting and generally handling the renting process from start to finish, however some businesses include a concierge service for an additional cost in which lenders can pass on these responsibilities.
Rental platforms such as OnLoan and My Wardrobe HQ operate on a subscription basis, allowing renters to pay a flat rate each month to rent a set number of items on a regular basis- one that might be especially appealing to the social butterflies or serial wedding attendees of the world. The surge in popularity of rental fashion means there will almost definitely be a service and format that works for you.
The need-to-know renting platforms
Founded in 2017 and dubbed “the Airbnb of fashion” (Forbes), Hurr is a peer-to-peer service including clothes and accessories allowing you to “get your kicks from the latest luxury trends and pieces, without burning a hole in their pocket or the planet.” Hurr offers £5 damage protection to give renters peace of mind (which covers repairs such as broken zips, missing beads and stain removal) up to a maximum repair cost of £50 per rental, which may be appealing for nervous first-time renters. Hurr includes plus-size rental, bridalwear, sunglasses, bags, shoes and hair accessories, making it a perfect one-stop-shop for all your wedding or holiday needs.
Founded by wonder woman Georgie Hyatt (a previous trend forecaster FYI) and her partner, Rotaro stocks ultra-cool mid-luxury sector brands with a retail value of around £100-£1200. If you’re renting for the planet then Rotaro is the one for you, as the platform offers biodegradable packaging, eco-friendly laundering and repair and they plant a tree with every order! Including brands such as Jacquemus, Cinta The Label, Sister Jane, Cult Gaia and House of Sunny, Rotaro offers dreamy pieces for as little as £15 for a four-day loan.
The first social rental app of its kind, By Rotation is peer-to-peer rental done right. Founder Eshita Kabra-Davies says, “it’s really up to our users to decide what’s trending on the app. This has created a much more democratic approach to luxury fashion.” something we adore! Eshita was inspired to start By Rotation after witnessing first-hand the effects of textile waste whilst on her honeymoon to her motherland Rajasthan, India. The platform doesn’t purchase any inventory themselves so are entirely sustainable, solely stocking items from independent lenders including brands such as Molby The Label, Realisation Par, Loewe, Coach and Paloma Wool.
OnLoan is “Your dip-in-dip-out rental wardrobe” on a membership basis. Renters can receive 2 items a month for £69 (items worth an average of £500) or 4 items for £99 (items worth an average of £1000). The site also offers Capsules- monthly wardrobe updates for either 3 or 6 months which can save you even more money if you’re a regular renter. The platform works directly with brands on a wholesale basis featuring current and past season stock, adding longevity to the life cycle of existing garments that would otherwise be wasted.
Fashion renting ticks endless boxes for style lovers looking to switch up their wardrobe or wear something new without the long term investment, but what if you are looking for something to treasure forever that doesn’t break the bank or kill the planet? Enter: made to order brands. Producing garments only when they are ordered is the premise, and the concept makes so much sense in a world striving for less waste. The concept feels entirely alien to ASOS Premier Delivery or the ability to browse a sale rack of 20 duplicate items in every size, and the novelty of really considering the purchase is all part of the appeal.
Buying from a made to order brand is undoubtedly far more of a financial investment than shopping fast fashion, but with your receipt comes the promise of fairer working conditions, a lower environmental impact, less waste and exploitation and a piece truly made with love. The risk of overproduction is eliminated, and many times such brands make the most of dead stock too to further help patch up the damage fast fashion can cause.
If that wasn’t reason enough to be head over heels for made to order shopping, many of these small businesses are run by independent female entrepreneurs meaning buying their garments contributes to their success and supports them financially as opposed to the big corporations. We love to see it!
Made-To-Order Fashion Brands To Shop From Now
We love everything By Megan Crosby stands for and her deliciously bright, bold and fun prints have gained her a cult following across Instagram – snapping up an order is seriously sought after. Including dresses, bodysuits, co-ords, face masks, blouses and flares, creating a playful wardrobe that does good and looks good has never been easier. If you love statement, maximalist dressing, BMC is for you.
“Together we can dress bright, make better shopping decisions and buy fashion with a clear conscience.”
Whimsical and feminine with a funky twist, Molby the Label know their strengths and run with it. Their signature midi dresses are all over the ‘gram, and for good reason too. Molby also stocks matching oversized hair bows, confirming their status as a go-to for a put together, cool girl ‘fit.
As seen in Grazia, Peggy’s Room is the ultimate nod to nostalgia. “Effortlessly feminine with a badass rock-chic edge, Peggy’s Room is for the free-spirited muse who seeks adventure and lives life on her own terms.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.
Designed and handmade in founder Suzanne’s home studio in Kent, all fabrics are sourced locally and are washed at least twice to give them that ultra-soft, vintage feel.
With Love Evie celebrates the joy that can be found in outfit repeating – a mission we can truly get behind. If your favourite colour is red, then this is the shop for you, as the gorgeous hues of red gingham look like a British summertime dream. Perfect for picnics, pub gardens and staycations, With Love Evie ensures being comfortable and confident comes hand in hand.
Did someone say oversized collars in fun prints? We’re sold. This slow and conscious made-to-order brand merges masculine, boxy shapes with ultra feminine prints, creating the perfect balance between the two and items you can truly wear until the end of time. If that wasn’t enough to grab your attention, Mia sells matching scrunchies too.
Taking inspiration from the vibrant colours and the flowing shapes of nature (in particular the beautiful Dorset where founder Jana lives), her garments are fun and flirty with collars and bows so big Harry Styles would have a field day flicking through a JanaM THE LABEL rail. This is another one for gingham lovers out there, as Jana really celebrates the beauty of this simple yet classic print.
The home of shirred goodness & dreamy puffed sleeves, it doesn’t get better than Olivia Rose the Label. Loved by some of Instagram’s chicest ladies and Holly Willoughby herself (yes you read that correctly), this slow fashion brand offers unique and elegant designs you won’t find in the shops – it’s cottagecore on a hanger.
Ultra fun and with one-of-a-kind designs, this handmade to order, premium knitwear brand “aims to support slow fashion, fair manufacturing, sustainable materials, and women’s economic independence”. We love the cherry designs endlessly.
Made to order crochet clothing and accessories, Hooked Apparel uses 100% cotton in their bold, bespoke fashion. Perfect for festivals, Pride or simply those who love sporting a colourful wardrobe, Hooked are out here shaking up the world of crochet, one stitch at a time. The brand is only just over 12 months old, however with over 30,000 Instagram followers, it’s clear they have amassed a strong fanbase.
As seen in British Vogue, Elle & The independent, Before July is well known in the made to order world for nailing timeless statement pieces that can be worn season after season. Designing 1-2 collections per year & hand-making every piece to order in their UK studio, Before July is your one-stop-shop for block colour dreaminess in classic, flirty shapes.
Cawley Studio celebrates quality craftsmanship, hand smocking, natural fabrics and uses 100% natural materials in their classic designs ethically made in East London. Adopting a more neutral colour palette than many other made to order brands prominent on Instagram, Cawley Studio is one for lovers of classic simplicity.
Chalsie Joan offers “eclectic, vintage-inspired pieces that follow a subtle modern air of contemporary design” handmade in the West Midlands. Her designs have an air of Parisian chic to them, and you just know they would fit right in during an afternoon at the Louvre or coffee against the Eiffel Tower backdrop.
Born out of a love for “beautiful dresses, timeless vintage patterns and magical prints”, Mary Benson has made its way onto red carpets and between the pages of Glamour and The Independent, cementing them as the best of the best for dreamy, extra designs you will automatically feel 10/10 glamorous in.
These limited edition gender-neutral garments responsibly made to order in London are everything it means to look effortlessly put together. Created in a range of fresh, fun and funky prints, they’re statement whilst being neutral enough to wear on repeat and still rack up the compliments from admiring outsiders. We’re obsessed.