High-end department store chain Selfridges will start offering clothing rental as part of a number of moves into sustainable fashion.
Customers are demanding that businesses take environmental concerns seriously, said managing director Anne Pitcher.
The company is also moving into second-hand clothes, recycling and repair, she told the BBC’s Today programme.
While renting clothing for weddings is an established business, doing so for regular wear is relatively new.
Fashion rental companies have sprung up in China, Europe and the US in recent years.
One of the first was New York-based Rent the Runway, which was set up in 2009 to lease designer clothing.
Selfridges customers will soon be able to mend clothes, bags, shoes and jewellery through what the store calls a “repairs concierge service”.
Prices will depend on the repairs, it said, and can be done on items bought at the store or elsewhere. As a guide, a resewn button will cost £2 if you still have the fastener and £5 if you’ve lost it. A hem repair is £20.
- Will we soon be renting rather than buying our clothes?
The rental part of the plan will be managed by Hurr Collective, an online clothing rental company. Outfits can be rented for 4, 8, 10 or 20 days.
Customers will also be able to sell used designer wear for store credits at Resellfridges.
‘No PR stunt’
Selfridges is owned by the Weston family, which controls Primark through Associated British Foods.
Fast fashion retailers like Primark have been criticised by MPs for encouraging a disposable attitude to clothing, although the firm insists its high street shops are better for the planet than online stores.
Parliament’s Environmental Audit Committee said last year that “the government must change the system to end the throwaway society”.
Asked whether fast fashion needs to change, Ms Pitcher told Today: “I think fast fashion is a very important part of our business, but I think people are changing and what we have to do is put more value into the shopping experience.”
She also insisted that her plans were not just a PR initiative, and that Selfridges has been on a “sustainability journey” since 2011 when it started a campaign to protect the world’s oceans.
She told the BBC Selfridges would “explore new circular business models” of rent, re-sell, repair and recycle “making us synonymous with circularity”.
- Clothing industry
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