Fashion News

Why you should borrow, not buy your next party outfit

From how it works to how much it costs, here’s everything you need to know about hiring designer clothes

By Sinead Corcoran

In 2017, almost every social outing is documented on social media – and the first world problem “I have nothing to wear” has never been more prevalent.

Whether it’s a friend’s wedding, a birthday celebration or a baby shower – our get togethers and soirees are now photographed extensively, and everyone sees our party dresses whether they were in attendance or not.

While many people might not care that they’re wearing the same trusty little black dress to various social events on their calendar (It’s a dress! Who gives a hoot!) for those of us who can’t bear to be an outfit repeater – it can be tough on the wallet to buy a new ensemble for every occasion.

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Enter – designer rental businesses.

Rather than splashing out on a brand new frock for every event, you can now rent an outfit for a fraction of the price – while still wearing the latest high end fashions.

"We're giving our customer access to things she wouldn't have otherwise purchased, either because it wasn't smart to buy it or she couldn't afford it," co-founder of one of the original international clothing rental websites, Rent The Runway’s Jennifer Hyman told Forbes magazine.

Applying the 'sharing economy' model used by businesses Airbnb and Uber to the high fashion market, people can now access designer clothes only as they need them – and Jennifer credits the rental business boom to the rise of social media.

"It creates pressure for women. Now you can't repeat outfits because your friends have seen that outfit on social media. As ridiculous as that sounds, that is what drives our business."

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In New Zealand, a number of online renting marketplaces have emerged – the majority run by young women in their mid-twenties who seem to target other young women who are generally not at an age where they can afford to be buying designer outfits for every occasion.

“It seems to make more sense to them to pay a small amount of the price to rent it and rent an outfit every weekend, so that they can always be seen in something new without breaking the bank,” Lucy Clarke, founder of Designer Hire told Idealog.

According to Rent The Runway’s Jennifer Hyman, in the future, fast fashion retailers’ sales may be impacted by the growth of designer rental as customers grow savvier with their purchasing habits.

“They’ll continue to buy staple, everyday sort of clothing to get the basics down, but rely on rentals for occasion wear and statement items. Consumers will become smarter about what they want to own forever and what they don’t want to own forever.”

Interested in trying out designer rentals? Here’s everything you need to know.

Editors note: We personally road-tested these six local businesses and can vouch for their reliability, service and quality of stock.

What’s Mine Is Yours

What’s Mine Is Yours Rentals is an Auckland based business with a unique and high-end range of designer pieces, sized 8-12 and priced from $50 to $100. Postage and dry-cleaning is also included in this cost.

Try on’s, pickups and drop offs are available if you're Auckland based, and the standard rental period is Wednesday – Monday. They do however accept late rentals when necessary which is great if you need a little extra time with the garment.

If you're ordering online, the items are delivered to you in beautiful packaging.

Oh Rent Me

Oh Rent Me is an Auckland based clothing business with garments ranged from $25 to $150 and sized 6-14. The dresses are organised by size on the website, so it’s easy to navigate and find the dresses that will fit you.

You need to order your item three days before you require it to ensure you receive it on time, and the items take 1-2 days to arrive. The rental time is one night, but depending on whether the garment was rented out to someone else before you determine whether or not you will receive it early.

You aren’t required to pay for dry-cleaning as they don’t dry clean the garments every time to avoid drying out the fabrics – so they only bill their customers for dry-cleaning if they can’t wash a particular mark out.

Postage is $10 which they add on to your order after you’ve selected your item, and you can pay for your order using credit card.

Rent For A Cure

Rent For A Cure is a Christchurch based clothing business offering designer and boutique clothing rentals priced from $25 to $110 and sized 6 to 16. 15 per cent of their profits made are also donated to the Cancer Society.

For Christchurch-based customers, they also offer 30 minute try-on appointments at their store in Rolleston and offer free pick ups from Rolleston or the University of Canterbury.

If ordering online, items take 1-2 days to arrive and are cleaned and prepped before sending. They take care of the dry cleaning and it’s included in the cost of your rental.

They offer a $10 flat rate courier NZ wide, which includes overnight courier to you and a pre addressed return bag back to them for you to pop your rental into the day after your event and hand over the counter at your nearest post shop.

Designer Wardrobe

As well as selling pre-loved designer clothing, Designer Wardrobe also hires out items priced from $70 - $250.

They faciliate "peer to peer" renting (renting from other members), but also have their own stock for rental too.

The items take 1-2 days to arrive and you get to keep them for three days. They also provide a return postage bag for $9.95.

As well as providing dry-cleaning, Designer Wardrobe also offer add-on services to their rentals, like garment insurance for minor rips and stains up to $250 per item, for only $7.85 – so you can rent the items worry-free.

Borrow The Brands

Borrow The Brands is based in Christchurch and also allow try ons, pick ups and drop offs. Their garments are priced from $40-$90 and are sized 6-12.

Renters can borrow items for one night, with a three-day postage window either side.

They handle drycleaning on a case by case basis, and for items that cannot be handwashed and require drycleaning, a $10 fee is included in the rental price.
For the garments that aren't dry cleaning inclusive and have marks that don't come out with hand wash/machine wash, renters are charged a dry cleaning fee.

A $10 flat rate NZ wide shipping cost is added on at the time of purchase.

Lend The Label

Lend The Label is based in Christchurch and their garments are priced from $30 to $110, and sized between 6-12.

Dry cleaning is included in the rental cost, and shipping is at a flat rate of $10 which includes the return bag. They are currently working on a loyalty programme that will include free shipping for regular users.

Their standard rental period is one day however if booked on a Friday or Saturday their customers are able to keep the garment until the next working day.