Rent, return & repeat

Deccan Chronicle.  | Nivi Shrivastava

Lifestyle, Fashion and Beauty

While rental designer outfits are quite popular this season, designers also feel this is a good way to expand their business and clients.

Outfit from Seema Thukral

The season for festive revelry is here, and millennial fashionistas have no qualms about RSVPing for fancy invites without worrying about what to wear. So how do they manage to flaunt the latest designer wear at card parties, weddings and Diwali parties without a repeat? By simply renting it out. The booming business of rental designer wear and accessories has helped to bridge the gap between accessibility and ownership without spending a bomb, and not surprisingly, more and more women are opting for it.

Everyone loves a great deal and if you can score a dramatic designer outfit at a fraction of the retail price, why wouldn’t you be tempted to rent it? Shilpa Bhatia, founder of The Clothing Rental, breaks down the cost of average occasion wear and explains why so many young women are now opting for rentals instead of buying a new outfit each time.

“A rental ensemble can cost anywhere from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000; the sweet spot being Rs 5,000 that could include the dress + shoes + jewellery + bag. If you have to go out and buy an entire look, you could be spending a lot more than this, as any nice Indian designer outfit would start from Rs 15,000 plus branded shoes and bag would cost between Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000 and artificial kundan jewellery like a necklace and earrings could cost an additional Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000,” she explains.

As modern women are more fashion conscious and want to have fun with the latest styles, renting seems like a step toward democratising it by making a smarter choice with multiple benefits, especially in India, which is huge on festivals and marriages. For most consumers, renting allows access to top designer outfits at just 10 per cent of the MRP and promotes the idea of a conscious closet where you borrow items that you will wear only a few times, informs Sanchit Baweja, co-founder of online rental platform Stage3. “Renting products costs a fraction of the actual price. It gives the wearer freedom to experiment and helps to de-clutter the wardrobe by making sustainable choices. There is no buyer’s remorse from impulsive shopping and the shopping budget is reduced. If you don’t have time to get anything stitched at the last minute, it’s a cool idea to rent an outfit and return it after a single-use,” says Baweja.

“However, there is a good deal of skepticism that surrounds fashion as it requires a major behavioural change. People are skeptical about the hygiene, who’s worn it before, the authenticity of the label and the fit of the garments. Sometimes, people want the real-life experience and want to try it on before they rent it, so those are some of the challenges that we are working on.”

While rental designer outfits are quite popular this season, designers also feel this is a good way to expand their business and clients. Designer Seema Thukral compares the trend of renting clothes with renting a taxi or a holiday home, as the consumer gets to choose from a wide variety of premium options.

“When you rent clothes, you have access to an enormous closet of clothes without the hassle or cost of ownership. There is a charge of a fixed monthly subscription fee and you decide what to wear. Yes, you are sharing clothes with strangers, but given the growth of the industry, many rented items are new and never worn. In metro cities, an average girl spends anywhere from `5,000 to `20,000 on renting jewellery and clothes each month. But now, even women have started opting for this option to save time and money,” explains Seema.

With renting, users not only get access to high-end fashion products for special occasions, but they also get one-time-wear clothes on a convenient pay-per-use basis.

“The cost of time, running to different locations and spending on a look that you cannot repeat is quite high. Hence, renting an entire look under `5,000 seems quite feasible, where you can go online and get styled with personalised help without worrying about storing the outfit or dry cleaning it,” sums up Shilpa Bhatia.