A new generation of young people always creates a wave of change and a generation (Gen-Z/ Millenials) that was either born or was eased into the digital age holds an entirely different appetite for fashion. Gen-Z and Millenials are hooked on social media and as a result, shy away from repeating clothes creating a larger demand for new clothes.
The digital age has also brought about a wave of awareness amongst youth so now everyone knows the who’s who of the luxury world and wants a piece of the pie by wearing the latest designer outfits. To top it all off, fashion trends are ever-changing so owning clothes based on new trends is seeming even more redundant as it’s heavy on the pockets and doesn’t yield as much marginal utility for the product. Rentals have smoothly blended into this niche that was created purely by the digital boom and is now being embraced gracefully due to COVID and sensitivity towards climate action.
Youth from urban cities, particularly our Tier-I and Tier-II, is definitely growing more conscious of what they wear and where their clothes come from. All of this has led to a revolution of sorts, moving people towards the idea of renting. Renting clothes is not only easier on the pockets but it also allows people to freely post and flaunt their outfits on social media without the fear of not being able to repeat them. There has been a natural shift amongst people who are making frugal choices that helps them be at the top of their fashion game. Customer acquisition costs for the tech-enabled rental companies have significantly come down post-Covid, which very well reflects the organic growth of the businesses.
Influencers post new outfits every day and unlike older times when only celebrities rented their outfits, our next-door influencers are all in for rentals. There is no dearth of content and designer wear that is available for rent. Rental brands are expanding both online and offline as people can now see the advantage of renting and the numbers say it all. People are renting products with actual market price of Rs 20,000 to Rs 15,00,000 at rental values that range between Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,50,000. This massive difference in value is a huge impetus for people as it helps them live their dream of wearing their favorite designer all the while not going through the hassle of upkeep, not to forget never having to repeat it again out of guilt.
The numbers are promising and they show that renting is only here to stay and expand, it has now become the new age of buying for customers in India. C2C (customer-to-customer renting) models are growing as seen with rental companies that give back to society by creating a sustainable reuse model, they do this by taking great care of the fabrics. Women can now rent their design wear to rental companies and make extra income off of it to further indulge in a shopping/rental spree. Thrift stores are also picking up as people ease into the idea of sharing clothes, rental companies get their outfits from designers and outfits flow from one consumer to the other effortlessly.
The growing concerns about carbon footprints amongst Gen-Z are getting brands like French Connection, Allbirds, M&S, Lululemon, Hugo Boss, and Gore-Tex in addition to Burberry to move towards rentals and resale.
This goes to say that even big brands are trying to salvage their image by showcasing that they care about the planet. Conversations around upcycling clothes have become the new normal. Consumers are sharing outfits, and refurbishing old Jewelry instead of investing in new pieces. Brides at their wedding are choosing to tailor their mom’s outfits and recreate new looks that showcase a beautiful blend of traditional heritage with a hint of modernity. Music Festivals have picked up in India and Indians are using all their creativity to come up with new looks by renting cool outfits, which they know they will never wear again.
These rapidly changing norms have created a cultural shift where wearing pre-loved clothing is no longer embarrassing but rather a thing to take great pride in. Fast fashion has largely consumed our societies convincing us that we don’t have enough but Gen-Z is moving away from that idea and making conscious choices all while not compromising on fashion. Trends are always going to keep changing and if one must have 70 percent of essentials in their wardrobe and for the rest 30% they rent, thrift or evaluate their choices closely when investing in a fast fashion piece. As soon as wedding season hits in India all of the old clothes go further deep down inside the wardrobe and there is a dire need to wear something new, something upbeat so essentially every ethnic wedding season purchase can’t be repeated for at least a year or two. This timeline is bound to cause wear and tear to the clothes and rips away a big chunk of a customer’s savings. All this is now making urban Indians invest money in hassle-free renting that they can fashionably hype on their grams and honestly this cultural shift is one big step into the future. Be it a friend’s wedding or a conceptual shoot for social media, renting is the best way to optimize outfits and look snazzy at all times.