It's 2020 and we're all too aware of the environmental damaged wreaked by the fashion industry. Figures vary but the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions come from the production of fashion, WRAP, the circular economy and resource efficiency experts, say we produce 800,000 tonnes of waste from clothing demand in the UK alone, and Oxfam projects that 11 million items of clothing end up in landfill each week.
Fuelled by social media pressure to wear an item of clothing just once before casting it aside – people bought 60% more garments in 2014 than in 2000 but kept them for half as long, according to the World Economic Forum – and brands offering more collections each year than ever before (the average was two per year until 2011, when it increased to five, or 24 in Zara's case), we've been stuck on a carousel of buying more, faster and cheaper for the best part of a decade.
Unlearning these behaviours is no mean feat but while we've long been conscious of these horrifying statistics, lockdown has thrown new light on our complex relationship with clothes. With nowhere to go but big Sainsbury's and the local park, and wearing nothing but loungewear on repeat, the break from reality has offered a welcome pause for thought when it comes to shopping.
Beyond wearing what you already own, shopping secondhand is the best way to stay sustainable but a new frontier for eco-friendly fashion has emerged over the past few years, catering to those who still want to wear new and exciting labels. Just half a decade ago, the idea of renting clothes was not seen as contemporary, cool or even accessible. Now, due to a host of tech-forward and sartorially switched-on startups, that's all changed.
From HURR to By Rotation, brands from Gucci to Ganni are available to rent for as little as £28 for four days, solving the eternal dilemma of whether to buy a new dress for your friend's wedding, your mum's 60th or that important job interview. People are even renting their wedding dresses, now that having a zero-waste big day is a priority for eco-conscious brides. Whether you want to try a piece before you invest in it, dabble in trends you're unsure of or you're looking to save both money and the planet, rental fashion is the savviest way to have fun with your wardrobe without the guilt.
Click through to meet our favourite rental platforms and apps.