Garments for lease: ‘rental’ apparel brings new wrinkles for retail stores

A woman looks at clothes at the Rent The Runway store, an online subscription service for women to rent designer dress and accessory items, in New York City, New York, U.S., September 12, 2019. Picture taken September 12, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

MADRID/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Lisa Batitto, 54, says she has virtually stopped buying clothes ever since she started renting them.

The New Jersey-based museum publicist spends $277 a month on three subscriptions, including one from New York & Company, a women’s mid-price clothing chain with hundreds of U.S. stores.

This is less than what she previously spent, she said. ”I still have clothes in my closet from when I was buying, but I can’t tell you the last time I bought anything,” she said.

From New York & Company, owned by RTW Retailwinds Inc. (RTW.N), to Bloomingdale’s (M.N) and Banana Republic of Gap Inc. (GPS.N), more retailers are offering to lend out their clothing for a monthly rental rate.

Even fast-fashion stalwart H&M (HMb.ST), with nearly 5,000 stores globally, said in August it would include a limited rental service featuring its premium-priced collection made from recycled fibers in a revamped central Stockholm store.

The services cater to a growing number of people like Batitto who want to purchase just a few items and rent the rest.

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