WOPCOM Blog: New Textile Care Market Emerging? Rental of Private Apparel, by Dr. Geert Böttger

The textile rental concept is meanwhile approx. 130 years old, and it has proven to be a successful business model in the b2b world. In the last years we have seen increasingly new businesses, which focus on the rental of private apparel – b2c. Most of the offers include free cleaning and some even altering to individual measures. Can this be an emerging market for professional textile care companies?

Most of the rental companies for private textiles are currently in Asia, most notably in India and China, and in the US (see table). Even apparel brands like American Eagle have established a rental business. You can browse the American Eagle offer as an interesting example under www.aestyledrop.com.

How it works
Most of the private apparel rental models work like this:
(1) the consumer can choose favourable styles online
(2) they need to subscribe to the service with a subscription scheme. These subscription schemes can be monthly flat fees for a fixed number of styles, or more differentiated packages, which tie the number of rented styles and time to different fees.
(3) the chosen items are sent to the customer, They can be new, or used, but need to be “like new”.
(4) after the defined time they can be sent back or alternatively the customer can buy the garment with a meaningful discount.
(5) very important: the customer doesn`t have to do the textile care, neither taking the garments to the dry cleaner, nor to launder them.

Changing Consumer Habits
These models are reflecting trends in society and consumer behaviour. They reflect and support changing consumer minds. The authors of the very recommendable McKinsey Report „State of Fashion 2019“ are stating two fundamental trends at young apparel consumers:
(1) Research shows that the average person today buys 60 percent more items of clothing than they did 15 years ago. However, consumers keep that clothing for only half as long as they used to. One in seven consumers consider it a fashion faux-pas to be photographed in an outfit twice. Simply put, young people today crave newness, and these cohorts are much more likely to embrace churn in their wardrobes.
(2) At the same time younger generations are more interested in sustainable clothing than older consumers. Rental, resale and refurbishment models lengthen the product lifecycle while offering the newness consumers desire.

We like to add here another aspect of consumer habits, based on several Cinet research overviews:
(3) Textile care is for private households increasingly a convenience service, which allows consumers to spend more time to higher valued activities in family life, career or hobby. Accordingly most of the rental models feature as a key pilar of the offer textile care for free, when returning the styles.

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