Renting clothes online is a great way of reducing fashion’s carbon footprint. Here are 6 clothing rental services for a more sustainable wardrobe.
The ecological impact of the fashion industry can hardly be overstated. From the huge amounts of water it takes to grow the cotton for just one T-shirt to the appalling wastefulness of both producers and end-users – something has to change. Fortunately, there are lots of ways of reducing our clothes’ impact on the environment.
With so much waste, and so many items which are bought and then rarely or never worn (we all do it!), the growing trend to rent clothes online could provide an answer. Instead of – or in addition to – shopping for bargains at the thrift store or buying secondhand clothes online, fashion-conscious consumers can wear and share a huge variety of clothes without having to stuff their closets (and empty their wallets). In this article, we’ll review some of the best clothing rental services. Of course, we pay special attention to sustainability and price.
Remember, though, that no consumption is completely green – after all, even rented clothes still have to be manufactured. Don’t be blinded by greenwashing – a lot of big clothing brands still have much to do to fulfill their ethical promises. Then there is the impact of seemingly guilt-free return policies, with shipping, dry-cleaning, and other forms of waste. Alarmingly often when shopping online, the clothes we return are simply destroyed.
However, ultimately, it is unarguably better for products to be shared and used as necessary, than each of us owning hundreds of things we rarely need. Renting clothes online is just one way to perhaps attain a more sustainable, minimalist lifestyle.
The 6 Best and Most Sustainable Places to Rent Clothes Online
1. Best Value for Money: Nuuly
A good place to start if you’re thinking of saving money by renting clothes is Nuuly. The clothing rental service costs under $ 90 a month, which includes all shipping and laundry. You get six items which you can keep for four weeks – and if you like something, you can buy it! Everything else can be sent back, and then you receive six ‘new’ styles. You can also pause or cancel the subscription at any time, making Nuuly a great option for the budget-conscious and those new to renting clothes online.
2. Best for Sports and Maternity: Le Tote
The variety on Le Tote is a little wider than some of the more brand-driven clothing rental services here. They have a specific service for maternity clothing – it’s especially sustainable to only rent clothes if you know they’re just going to fit you for a few months! There is also a great selection of sports and athleisure clothing, which is also unusual for clothing rentals. At the time of publishing, the Le Tote website is down – the parent company has been restructuring due to COVID-19 – but Le Tote has continued to function and they should be back online soon.
3. Most Inclusive: Gwynnie Bee
The clothing rental service Gwynnie Bee began by specializing in plus sizes, and they’ve extended this inclusive approach to now offer something for everyone. Their sizing service should help you rent clothes that fit you perfectly, reducing the need for unnecessary returns. However, the price structure is slightly different to, for instance, Nuuly‘s: The more expensive the plan, the more pieces you can keep at once, starting at one item at a time. On the other hand, you can receive and return as many times as you like each month. (Of course, this does increase your shipping impact!)
4. Best for Guys and Gals: The Mr. & Ms. Collection
This is one of the few clothing rental services that caters to men’s and women’s clothing. The fashionable, stylist-curated packs can be kept for as long as you like – no time limit. You can put together a wish list of clothes you’d like to try, and their lowest-priced service (for one ‘pack’ at a time) costs only $59 a month. The Mr. & Ms. Collection is a good option for a smaller budget and a streamlined, more sustainable closet.
5. Best for Sharing: Style Lend
Slightly different from some of the other clothing rental services on offer here, Style Lend also lets users rent out their own clothes. If you have items taking up space in your wardrobe which someone else might enjoy, you can share the love and earn some money on the side! And don’t worry, any items you lend are insured for potential repairs or even replacement. This circular approach to fashion is far more sustainable than all of us buying clothes we may only wear once.
6. Most Sustainable: Rent The Runway
Most of the clothing rental services we review here are at least reasonably sustainable. Remember, the fewer clothes we produce and buy, the less we affect the environment. However, market leader Rent the Runway goes even further, by committing to green cleaning methods and recyclable packaging. This does a lot to relieve some of our doubts when it comes to the true environmental impact of renting clothes – all that shipping and laundry! Rent the Runway offers a wide range of styles and subscriptions, and you can even rent children’s clothes. This combination of variety and sustainability makes them our top pick for clothing rental services currently available in the US.** Links to retailers are partially affiliate links: If you buy here, you actively support Utopia.org because we get a small portion of the proceeds.