L'Oréal Blackett considers renting a whole new wardrobe
There are only two major occasions in my life where I need spend more than £1000 on a new dress: my wedding day and if I were ever to win an Oscar. At present, neither a wedding nor an Academy Award is in the works so my current budget for clothing is, well… budget.
That’s not to say I don’t dream of head-to-toe designer ensembles and ‘show-stopping’ fashion moments at decadent parties, I’d just rather not go broke attempting to keep up appearances (and an aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed).
Something Alainnah Joyce, co-founder of dress-for-hire agency, Hire That Look understands:
“I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t spend £1000 on a dress even if I was going to wear it every weekend. I’d rather have access to lots of different dresses, where I only pay a fraction of the price for each event, then return it. It just makes more sense,” she explains.
Hire That Look allows women to do just that: hire a designer dress for up to 90% off of the existing retail price.
people don’t like to wear the same things twice
Together with her husband Mark, Alainnah has sourced stunning garments from designers such as Victoria Beckham to Self Portrait, and have listed them to rent for up to eight days. Established just three months ago, it’s a simple to use service; you head to their website, select your dress and size, pay for the hire and then they send it to you to wear for your big event. Once worn you send it back. Hire That Look even organise the dry cleaning.
“Hire That Look was born from a frustration around the fact that there’s so many clothes in people’s wardrobe that are just not worn,” explains Alainnah, a former fashion consultant. “It’s an Instagram generation that we’re living in at the moment, which means people don’t like to wear the same things twice. So we came up with the idea that instead of buying stuff just to throw away people could rent dresses instead.”
The high fashion industry can be very intimidating and it can also be very expensive
Whether we’d like to admit it or not, this is an Instagram-fuelled generation with close to 800 million people sharing pictures of themselves every single day. There’s over 100,000,000 photos listed as ‘outfit of the day’ on the social media platform alone. And, given an active social media presence means more opportunity to be seen, Instagram could very well be fuelling an excessive need to buy new clothes and over-consume.
“Last year, it was revealed we waste £30 billion pounds worth of clothes with millions of items of clothing end up in landfill sites every year,” says Alainnah.
For digital girls in a digital world, Hire That Look are providing a environmentally friendly solution to this new age consumption problem.
“Our mission is to give all women an access to high fashion. The high fashion industry can be very intimidating and it can also be very expensive. A lot of women don’t want to spend £300 plus on a dress but they do want to wear it,” she adds.
Like Cinderella, I must return my new outfit by midnight
Hire That Look source their dresses directly from designers or they buy them online. Dresses such as a stunning Marchesca Norte gown retails at £1149 but can be rented at £179. With such a significant markdown of the original price are designers happy to supply dresses without promise of a profit?
“It’s a funny one,” thinks Alainnah, “some designers are really supportive. They understand that we’re not encroaching on their current customer base we’re introducing them to a new customer base.”
“Whereas other designers see it as they don’t want to cheapen their brand. But because the model is so new, some designers have not bought into to it yet.”
While not all designers are convinced, fashion rental services are growing in popularity across America and London. Soon, the common answer to ‘where did you get that?’ could be ‘oh this little thing? It’s rented.’
Not one to miss out on a dress up opportunity, I rented two dresses: a salmon lace two-piece by True Decadence and a slinky asymmetric showstopper by designer Halston Heritage worth £500.
They arrive packaged beautifully, without evidence that they've been worn before. You also get to try the fit before you commit and Hire That Look allow free returns.
As I'm sashaying down Spinningfields in my new designer threads, taking in compliments and snapping umpteen pictures for Instagram, I'm conscious that this dress is not my own. Like Cinderella, I must return my new outfit by midnight (well... via DPD not Fairy Godmother) and my glamorous designer moment is a fleeting one.
Regardless, as a fashion-lover who’s more Zara than Versace, it’s a business model I could happily support. Like many, designer fashion has always felt more aspirational than attainable. Hire That Look are opening a door to a world of very expensive glamour that’s often closed to those bereft of a large expendable income. The future of fashion could very well be a wardrobe that's rented not bought.