Men’s Entry Into Rental Market a Slow-Go

WWD | May 12, 2021

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There are a few pioneers who offer rental programs for men including Scotch & Soda, The Rotation, Mr. Collection, Taelor and Seasons. And the market has the potential to be lucrative. Statista expects the value of the rental market in the U.S. to jump to $4.4 billion by 2028, up from $1 billion in 2018. But how much of that will be men’s remains to be seen.

“Over the last five years, I was a user of women’s rental and I believe in the concept,” said Taelor founder Anya Cheng. Taelor launched in March 2021 offering men an elevated everyday wardrobe for job interviews, date nights and hanging out with friends, from companies like Brooks Brothers, Bonobos and Mizzen + Main, although none are official partners.

Cheng, a fashion AI tech entrepreneur who served as head of product at Target and eBay and helped introduce Facebook Shopping, views Taelor as a rental service equivalent to the makeover component in Queer Eye. For $59.99 a month, customers can get two boxes a month with four shirts each from Taelor, or for $89.99 and a one-time pilot, they can get three boxes with four shirts each. Taelor is currently purchasing brands and offering products in size M for its pilot program and will expand its size offering in the future.

Though Taelor has roots in Silicon Valley, Cheng said men and women in New York City, Miami, Chicago and cities in Texas are also using the service.

“We want to go after everyday people who may not be fashion-forward,” Cheng said. “Customers who are mostly busy and don’t want to spend time styling.”

She also sees Taelor as a benefit for brand partners, which could either be a brand testing a new business model, wholesalers seeking to monetize unsold inventory or independent brands looking for a direct-to-consumer channel.

Of course, sustainability is an opportunity for rental and subscription services, too. A 2017 report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation titled, “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future,” found that only 1 percent of clothing is recycled and 73 percent goes into a landfill. And according to Le Tote, people only wear 20 percent of what they buy and 80 percent of the pieces are worn fewer than three times.

“At the end of the day, the sustainability of rental depends on whether it leads to people purchasing fewer items,” Cheng said.