Robb Report | July 08, 2021
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Rentals—they're not just for prom anymore. Traditionally, men’s only foray into the clothing rental market has been as an inexpensive solution to prom or a black-tie occasion. And while it’s become an increasingly popular option for women—even for daily wear—over the last few years, the gents have been a little more hesitant to follow suit.
“Two-times more customers—nearly 30 percent—are self-reporting that they’re coming to us for a more sustainable solution to fashion compared to 15 months ago,” claims Rent the Runway, a pioneer of the rental industry, of its primarily female clientele, “indicating yet another shift in values in a post-pandemic world. Many of us cleared the clutter out of our homes last year and don’t want to go back to the old way of accumulating stuff.” A few companies are betting on this change in attitude toward sustainability and consumption, turning to the less saturated men’s rental market for opportunity.
One of the biggest players to enter the market over the last year is Seasons. Offering high-end designer and vintage pieces, Seasons carries coveted labels like Bode, Marni, Prada, Stone Island and more. One client Byron Cordero, principal at Cordero Consulting, admits that he was a bit hesitant to try the online service, but found “the service is very seamless,” adding, “I love that depending on the month—I attend and host a lot of events—when there might be a lighter schedule, you can experiment with pieces you might be more invested in buying.” And while Seasons offers two levels of subscription, the Essential ($65) and All Access ($105), all members must apply and be approved to join the network.
One of the newest companies on the market, Taelor launched in March of this year. An “AI-curated clothing rental subscription,” Taelor is a monthly subscription service that includes a bi-weekly delivery of four different shirt styles ($60), or a one-time purchase of 12 shirts delivered over the course of a month ($90). A subscription entails a style questionnaire and a personal stylist consultation. Available in medium sizing for the pilot program, the company has plans to expand its size offering. Similarly, Mr. Collection is a new rental service including personal styling. Starting at $60 per month, members receive two to three packages a month of everything from clothing to accessories.
Meanwhile, established brands like Scotch & Soda are beginning to offer a rental option; in this case, called Scotch Select. “We’ve always looked at rental as an opportunity to capture new customers by letting them try the product before purchasing,” says Karis Durmer, CEO of the Americas, “It’s been clear for a while now that the new frontiers of retailing include rental, and the brand has really embraced this and made it a plan to get ahead of the curve in the men’s market.”
Alongside the membership growth of the rental program, the brand has seen those members increase their rate of purchase—and anticipates this trend to continue. “We’ve seen a steady increase in men subscribing to Scotch Select and expect that number to grow as the country continues to lift restrictions and people head back to work,” says Durmer, “For many, the concept of rental is still a fairly new one, but to a sizeable portion, rental is the anchor to our brand.”
Unlike many of its competitors, Scotch Select offers a gender-free platform, meaning members can share carts and rent both men’s and womenswear. The idea is to “rent in a way that best represents their personal style. Many of our customers shop the brand that way and we wanted rental to provide the same flexibility of expression. We’re also seeing a lot of couples share one subscription in response to our gender-free platform”—proving that rental-wear is a viable wardrobe option for both men and women.