I rented clothes from 5 different services over the course of 3 months and saw how the model could be the future of fashion
- The clothing rental market is booming thanks to shifting consumer demand for e-commerce and sustainable fashion. According to GlobalData Retail, the industry is expected to reach $4.4 billion by 2028.
- Thanks to the success of services like Rent the Runway, a rising number of retailers are rolling out monthly rental services as an alternative way to get dressed.
- I tested five clothing rental services and ranked my favorites based on overall value, user experience, and style options. My favorite was Nuuly, the new service launched by URBN, parent company of Urban Outfitters.
- Though Nuuly doesn't offer an unlimited option - in which users can swap out a set number of items as many times as they'd like during the course of the month - you can rent six items at half the price of Rent the Runway.
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Though I'm a reporter who writes regularly about e-commerce for a digital publication, the truth is I don't like online shopping.
I'm perhaps an anomaly among my millennial peers in that I much prefer the experience of physically visiting a store, trying on clothing, and ruminating over it extensively before making a purchase. I also have a fondness for thrift shopping and relish combing through racks to score a unique piece at a bargain price, a practice I'm aware many find cumbersome and time-consuming.
So when it was suggested I trial a handful of the buzziest monthly clothing rental programs - an industry that continues to grow at a rapid pace, on track to reach $4.4 billion by 2028 according to GlobalData Retail - I was both skeptical and intrigued. For as much buzz as rental gets, could renting clothing really be the future of fashion?
My ultimate takeaway: Yes, but each of the services still has several kinks to iron out before the average consumer has a closet filled with rental pieces. While there are several perks to these programs - both personal and environmental - tracking my orders was a bit of a logistical headache. In one case I rented a dress for a wedding that didn't make it to me in time. In another, I lost a package and had to search for it in the depths of my office basement.
Over the past few months, I trialed Express Style Trial, Rebecca Taylor RNTD, Vince Unfold, Rent the Runway Unlimited, and Nuuly. Here's my ranking, from worst to best: