Fast fashion and Instagram make a dangerous combination. First, we are seduced to buy into capitalism's cycle of excess and pollution, then the 'gram makes it a criminal offence to be photographed in the same outfit twice. And let's not discount the added pressure to present an online image well beyond the means of our bank balance.
Social media has put conspicuous consumption into overdrive. But it is also shifting the industry's focus from quantity to cost per use. While platforms like Instagram have made designer fashion more visible, access to it remained exclusive – until now. Fashion-for-hire is an industry step towards a more collaborative, circular economy. "Whether it's somewhere to stay (Airbnb) or a car (Uber) – and now designer clothing – the 'access economy' is drastically changing the way we live," says Anna Bance, cofounder of Girl Meets Dress.
Think of the pricey outfits you've bought for a wedding, job interview or special date – enjoying a single outing, only to be pushed to the back of your closet and never worn again. "Everyone in the world should own only a capsule wardrobe and rent the rest," says Zoe Partridge, founder of Wear The Walk. The concept of rental fashion brings new meaning to the idea of the investment piece, where it is no longer a splurge item that lacks longevity that you hope will increase in value, but an investment in a wardrobe staple that becomes the lasting core of your style.
Clothing rentals introduce sustainability to aspirational fashion, while giving access to designer pieces for those of us on high street budgets. Click through the slides to discover the best places to hire high-end fashion – each one founded by inspirational British women.