In 2020, our life is officially for rent.
From our houses and holiday homes to super yachts and sports cars, to bikes, watches, tablescapes, handbags, pets, clothes and wedding dresses, we are gradually divorcing from the fixation on ownership in favour of experiencing what we want, when we want, then sending it back.
And today, luxury dress rental platform My Wardrobe HQ has added another category to the list, with the launch of Europe’s first rental and resale marketplace for luxury childrenswear.
Responding to demands from its existing client base of fabulously dressed women, the platform has extended the high-end brand offering to children – or ‘little sharers’ are the brand is referring to them.
Just as with its main womenswear rental business, tiny sharers can rent or buy a range of designer stock from not only current season, but also from runway items, exclusive press or un-produced sample sets and capsule collections, from everyday clothing to smarter designer outfits for special occasions such as birthdays, christenings and weddings.
Stocking boys’ and girls’ clothing from 12 months to 12 years, the platform has launched with a roster of chic childrenswear brands including Marie Chantal, Bonpoint, Caramel, Molo, The Middle Daughter, Elie, Dotty Dungarees, House of Minimus and Noon By Noor Mini.
Not only does it make financial sense not to splurge lots of money on children’s clothes when they grow out of them within a matter of months, but sharing kids clobber is also a sustainable solution to the issue of an estimated £140 million worth of clothing ending up in landfill annually in the UK alone
“By extending the life cycle of one person’s clothes by just nine months, we can reduce the environmental impact by as much as 30 per cent- and we can extend the life cycle of a garment by up to fifteen times,” explains Sadie Mantovani, Creative Director at My Wardobe Kids, whose three-year-old daughter Scout has been one of the first tiny sharers to trial the service.
So how does it work? Simply browse the site and choose the chic kiddie garb you wish to rent (hire periods are from 4 to 14 days), then once you’re done, return it using the free via pre-paid DPD return label and My Wardobe will take care of dry cleaning and ironing. There are also full refunds for any unworn items and for anything you can’t bear to part with, email the team and they’ll arrange for you to buy your rental and keep it for life. The next step, says Mantovani, will be a monthly subscription service, where customers pay a monthly fee allowing a set number of outfit changes over that time.
There are those who have ethical concerns over the massive dry cleaning bills associated with clothing rental companies (Rent the Runway, America’s largest rental platform, is famously the USA’s single largest dry cleaner, as measured by pounds per hour). In an effort to combat this, My Wardrobe uses the most environmentally-friendly clothes cleaning technology around; a pioneering system called Ozone, which, by using oxidation rather than harsh chemicals, uses 65 per cent less water, 20 per cent less energy, and 80 per cent less chemical than conventional techniques.
For those with Covid- based hygiene fears, Mantovani assures that the Ozone system “kills bacteria and viruses so that every item is disinfected, sanitised and deodorised in between rentals, and leaves clothes in a state of medical grade cleanliness, making it safer when it reaches the customer than they would find garments when buying them from stores.”
Mantovani, who has spent the last two decades working in luxury fashion PR, most recently as Vice President of Communications at Ralph Lauren (a position she left to start her own consultancy in 2018), also stresses the benefit for the brands involved.
“Having worked with brands for so long and knowing what is attractive to their leaders, I was impressed with the ease of it all,” she says, “and with the monetary benefit to the brands, as well as how it operates in bringing a new customer into their own stores. Our research shows that rental actually acts as try-before-you-buy entry into a brand, and customers then purchased it more often at full price.
“We offer an additional way for brands and retailers to sell through pieces that either didn’t make it into production, were press samples, or didn’t sell through at the end of each season.”
So it’s good for the brands and, depending on your usual kids clothing spend, quite possibly easier on mummy and/or daddy’s wallet. The only risk is all this wardrobe switching-up could make a mini fashion diva of your ‘little sharer’… a sustainable one at least.