The festive season can be stressful, especially with the hordes of events that require stunning outfits to match. But fashionistas can take it slightly easier now, as new avenues have allowed them to rent their festive wear instead of going the whole nine yards to make or buy them. The booming business of rental designer wear and accessories is bridging the gap between accessibility and ownership without spending a bomb, which is why more women are opting for it lately.
Shilpa Bhatia, the founder of The Clothing Rental, explains: “A rental ensemble can cost from anywhere between Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000, with the sweet spot being Rs 5,000 that could include the dress, shoes, jewellery, and 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, 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 around Rs 5,000 to Rs 7,000.”
With women becoming more fashion-conscious and trends not lasting too long, renting outfits can be a cost-effective way to survive the festive and wedding seasons. Sanchit Baweja, the co-founder of online rental platform Stage3, explains that for most consumers, renting allows access to top designer outfits at just 10% of the MRP, and it promotes the idea of a conscious closet where you borrow items you will wear only a few times.
“Renting products at a fraction of the actual price 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 budget is reduced. If you don’t have time to get anything stitched at the last minute, it’s a cool idea to rent and return after a single-use. However, there is a good amount of scepticism that surrounds fashion, as it requires a major behavioural change. People are sceptical about the hygiene — who has worn it before, the authenticity of the label and the fit of the garments. Sometimes people want the real-life experience, and they want to try before they rent it, which are some of the challenges in the business that we are working in,” he shares.
Other than the convenience factor for consumers, 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 INR 5,000 to INR 20,000 on renting jewellery and clothes each month. But now women have started opting for this option to save time and money,” she explains.
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. So renting an entire look under INR 5,000 seems quite feasible, where you have to go online and get styled with personalized help without worrying about storing the outfit or drycleaning it," Shilpa concludes.