H&M For Rent? The Company Is Testing A Service To Tackle Environmental Concerns

Photo: Vincent Isore/IP3/Getty.
H&M wants customers to shop ‘til they drop, then return it all a week later.
The company is testing out a clothing rental service at its flagship store in Stockholm. For the equivalent of $37, customers can rent clothes from a collection of 50 pieces, according to a report in The Business of Fashion. The set-up is similar to the popular online retailer Rent the Runway’s model, as well as rental services recently launched by Urban Outfitters and Banana Republic.
The move comes amid growing criticism against the fashion industry’s negative environmental impact. A United Nations report found that the fashion industry is responsible for up to 20% of global wastewater and 10% of global carbon emissions, more than all international flights and shipping. Fast fashion, in particular, has fallen under intense scrutiny for producing excess waste and pollution, overworking and underpaying workers under terrible conditions, and mass-producing knockoffs of other creators’ ideas.
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It can be difficult to wean oneself off of fast fashion for many reasons, including lower prices, more options, and store ubiquity, so H&M, one of the world’s clothing giants, is trying out new strategies for smarter shopping. Along with the three-month trial run of its new rental service, the store will also roll out clothing repair services, BoF reports.
“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.
The rental service is currently only available for members of H&M’s loyalty program, and it hasn’t expanded past the flagship yet — but it signals one potential future route in the company’s efforts to go green. H&M plans to reach negative greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, BoF reports, meaning that the company’s operations would offset more emissions than they actually produce.
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