Online designer rental companies are popping up left, right and centre these days, with the majority of these companies founded by young, trendy and social media savvy females catering to likeminded clients nationwide. The concept is simple: browse their online catalogue, pick your favoured item and rent it at a fraction of its cost price, before wearing and returning said item. The appeal of being able to wear a stylish designer outfit at a social function or several different outfits for numerous occasions, fits in line well with today’s ‘gram it or it didn’t happen mentality, the idea that life is/can be full of fabulous outfits at fabulous occasions, though looking at the bigger picture renting an outfit can be cost-effective and is environmentally friendly. We look into a selection of different rental companies and see what they have to offer.
Trelise Cooper Waltz on the Weekend Dress, $95 for hire from Oh Rent Me (left), Rat and Boa Athena Dress, $70 for hire from Designer Wardrobe (centre), Bec & Bridge Cosmic Skies Playsuit $40 for hire from Designer Hire (right).
Initially starting out as a pre-loved designer marketplace for users to buy and sell and later on expanding to include the option of renting, Designer Wardrobe’s rental services have taken off so successfully, they have opened a dedicated rental store in Auckland. The beautifully fitted-out store boasts a large range of clothing and accessories managed by Designer Wardrobe available for hire, while their website at the time of writing has over 10,000 items listed by Designer Wardrobe and its users, available for rent (from high street to designer to very designer in the form of Gucci and Chloe accessories). One of the most popular items is this gorgeous Rat & Boa dress pictured above in the centre.
Oh Rent Me owned by Saejung Oh has around 350 items for hire with the option of try-ons from a space in Auckland. Oh has wisely incorporated customer friendly e-commerce options to her site in the form of gift cards, subscription and loyalty card services – whereby customers can subscribe to different levels of discounted package deals for multiple rentals in a season. How pretty is this blush and duck egg blue beaded number by Trelise Cooper pictured above left?
Designer Hire is run by Lucy Clarke with around 200 items for rent also with the option of try-ons from a small space in her Mt Eden home. Designer labels Alice McCall, Bec & Bridge, Realisation Par and a $30 range by Stolen from my Sister make up the majority of the Designer Hire range. The site is easy to navigate, with garments clearly listed by its category and size. We especially rate this printed chiffon playsuit by Australian label Bec & Bridge.
Maurie & Eve Genesis Dress, $50 for hire from Hire Society (left), Ruby Marina Dress, $70 for hire from Treasureboxx (centre), Self Portrait Macrame Lace Midi Dress, $65 for hire from One Night Only (right).
Hire Society is another Auckland based rental service; it is run by Anna Minnery who has around 70 items for hire. There is a live tracker on the site which lets you know of what item in recent times has been hired from which part of the country, and by all indications Hire Society has a very busy calendar. We love the asymmetric cut of this Maurie & Eve number pictured above on the left.
Looking further abroad, there is Timaru based Treasureboxx run by Sara Dooley, with around 90 items in her hire range, many of the catalogue images are of clients and it’s quite endearing to see the garments worn by real people. The ever popular Marina gown by Ruby is our top pick.
One Night Only has a curated selection of 50 items-and owner Claire Wong has carved out a niche of only stocking black dresses, we think this black lace dress by Instagram favourite Self Portrait (picture above right) would look great at any special occasion.
Christchurch has a number of companies delving into the market also. Perhaps best known is Lend the Label run by Bre Poulter, with around 200 products on offer, there is a large variety of designer goods from the likes of Alice McCall, Camilla, Maurie & Eve, Miss Crabb, Ruby, Self Portrait, and Shona Joy amongst others. Our top pick from Poulter’s range is this on-trend dress by Asilio pictured above on the left.
Designer Affair is operated by Jacqui Forde who charitably donates 15% of net profits from each rental to the Cancer Society, her range has around 200 products on offer with New Zealand and Australian designers and she is quite accommodating with try-on and pickup services. We love this red Miss Crabb silk dress from the range.
Zip Me Up is a Christchurch based online retailer who have expanded their services to include a small hire range (around 80 pieces), designer labels include Alice McCall (who seems to be a rental favourite across the board), Finders Keepers, Keepsake and Winona amongst others. Pictured above on the left is a fun Jumpsuit by Winona.
So what should designers make of the rental market? It could be seen as a great entry level access for girls who can’t yet afford special designer pieces, to inspire them to become customers later on. You could also argue that while fast fashion retailers sell clones of designer goods, designer rentals offer a sampler of luxury brands to customers, and perhaps over time this will help diminish consumer’s urge to buy knockoffs.