Coronavirus has pretty much ruined the last 12 months. But it is not all bad. Some industries have actually benefited from it. Food delivery is but one example. So is high-fashion, or at least one aspect of it. Five years from now, we could look back with an understanding that coronavirus was the best thing to have happened to clothing rental.

Clothing rental was birthed a few years ago when the fashion industry was forced into a day of reckoning. As critics began calling the industry out for its tendency toward excessive waste, forward-thinking entrepreneurs began launching fashion rental services. They rent the latest fashions through subscription programs that also give customers the option to buy any garments they are especially smitten with.

While clothing rental held its own prior to the coronavirus crisis, it has exploded since then. According to a recent Forbes piece by Senior contributor Lela London, UK rental platforms have been looking at triple digit increases since the start of the pandemic. HURR, for example, reported an 850% year-on-year increase.

Reevaluating Our Wardrobes

A closer reading of London’s piece shows just why clothing rental has seen such strong growth in the last 12 months. One of the things she touched on is the fact that people are re-evaluating their wardrobes. One particular woman she talked to told London that a review of her wardrobe during lockdown revealed tons of clothing she never wore.

It is sobering to realize you have spent thousands of dollars on clothes that you might only wear once or twice. That’s a lot of money sitting in the closet. And yet, some of the people London interviewed for her piece spend just as much on rental. They are not really saving all that much. But they are avoiding the habit of unnecessarily buying clothing that eventually goes to waste.

Instant Gratification and Boredom

Something else to consider is modern society’s dual tendencies toward instant gratification and boredom. On the instant gratification front, we are not patient enough to wait for what we want. We want what we want right now. The issue of boredom comes into play because our ability to get what we want quickly also causes us to lose interest in things just as quickly.

Another woman London interviewed for her article admitted as much. She said she prefers clothing rental because she gets bored very quickly. She also likes to stay up on all the latest trends and experiment with her fashions.

This particular lady has found a way to put instant gratification and boredom to work for. Not only does she rent the clothes she wears, but she also turns around and rents out pieces she owns through an online platform. She makes a little money and ensures that her clothing actually gets worn rather than sitting in her closet collecting dust.

You Can Still Buy Clothing

Clothing rental has exploded over the last 12 months thanks to coronavirus and its subsequent lockdowns. But no worries. You can still buy clothing if you want to. From small boutiques like Salt Lake City’s The Stockist to corporate retailers like Kohl’s, new clothing abounds.

As for the rental industry, it may look back on the past 12 months as a godsend. Rental clothing was a big hit among sustainable shoppers prior to the pandemic. Yet today, it enjoys a much larger customer base. As many of us are re-evaluating how much we spend on clothing we don’t use, some of us are deciding that rental is a better way to go. To each their own.

Lem Oswin