Consumers look to reduce waste, expand wardrobe through subscription services

Global Business

Twenty-six year old Hannah Silver works in the beauty industry. Looking stylish is part of the job, but owning the latest looks can get expensive. Her solution: to rent not buy a big part of her wardrobe.

“At this point in my career, I financially can’t afford to buy all the designer clothes that I love and so this is a great way for me to have access to it,” said Silver.

CGTN’s Karina Huber takes a look at the service.

It’s also a great way for her to maximize closet space, which in cities like New York is often in short supply. As a monthly subscriber of Rent the Runway, she gets about 16 garments delivered every month for under $160. She’s comfortable sharing clothes as are many in her generation.

“That notion of going into a store or buying a massive wardrobe of clothes, having that sitting there, that’s really an outdated model for the digital economy,” said David Bell, Digital Marketing Professor at The Wharton School.

Instagram is part of what’s fueling the movement. For many millennials like Hannah, once a garment has been photographed and shared on social media, there is little reason to keep it around.

“And I love that I can wear something once and not feel bad about never wearing it again. That’s pretty cool. I think that’s one of my favorite things,” said Silver.

Millennials are more socially conscious than generations past. An increasing awareness of the social and environment cost of cheap disposable clothing is causing some to reconsider their consumption habits and veer towards renting not owning.

Bell says this could pose a challenge for fast-fashion brands like H&M and Zara.

“A kid by the time he or she gets to 20, maybe $20,000 worth of clothes has gone into a landfill. So that’s clearly not long-term sustainable and as people start to develop solutions, I think those legacy models come under threat,” said Bell.

Millennials are accustomed to sharing cars, office space and their homes. Bell says it’s only a matter of time before the apparel industry joins the movement in a big way.

“You know it’s all kind of bubbling up. And do I think ten years from now people will be owning massive wardrobes of clothes, I don’t think so. I just don’t see it,” said Bell.

That may sound far-fetched, but then who could have predicted the impact car sharing services would have on the transportation industry.