Is renting clothes in our future?

A variation of this is done already in Scandinavia, a part of Europe that is ahead of my country environmentally in almost every way that I know. The way to get new items is to get to the sidewalk shops where others have sold what no longer appeals to someone. The amount of clothes in our closets in the U.S. is far more (for most people) than is ever actually worn. Why are we making and buying new clothes at a substantial cost to the environment when we could just trade?

H&M Tests Renting Clothes to Address Environment Concern

By Anton Wilen November 29, 2019, 1:00 AM EST Updated on November 29, 2019, 3:13 AM EST

  • Industry under fire for energy use, greenhouse gas emissions
  • Peer-to-peer second-hand clothing websites are also emerging
Rental clothing on display at H&M’s flagship store in central Stockholm.
Rental clothing on display at H&M’s flagship store in central Stockholm. Source: Hennes & Mauritz AB

Hennes & Mauritz AB is testing out a clothing rental service as the fashion industry faces mounting criticism for waste and pollution.

As of Friday, consumers can rent garments for 350 kronor ($37) a week in a refurbished flagship store on the Sergels Torg square in central Stockholm.

The Swedish retailer follows competitors Banana Republic and Urban Outfitters, which both launched similar services earlier this year to tap into a market that reached $1 billion in 2018. Websites such as Vinted and Hurr Collective are expanding in Europe, offering consumers a way to sell or rent used clothes.

H&M’s rental model is limited to a collection of 50 garments offered to members of the company’s loyalty program. H&M will assess the trial in three months before expanding any further. The shop, which is testing new concepts, will also feature clothing repair services, a coffee shop and a beauty bar.

“We have a huge belief in rental, but we still want to test and learn quite a lot and do tweaks and changes,” Daniel Claesson, H&M’s head of business development, said in a presentation at the flagship.

Credit Suisse analyst Simon Irwin said he has doubts about the plan.

“I’d be surprised if you can really make it work as a business model,” he said. “I can’t see that the kind of labor cost involved in a rental model at those price points really makes sense.”

Read more: Used Clothing Just Gave Lithuania Its First Tech Unicorn

The clothing industry has come under increasing scrutiny as it is responsible for as much as 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes more energy than aviation and shipping combined, according to the United Nations. By 2040, H&M intends to reach the point that its greenhouse gas emissions go negative, meaning that it would offset more than it produces.

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