Aanchal founded Flyrobe, India's first & largest fashion rental company and RENT IT BAE. Armed with strong entrepreneurial skills, Aanchal also specializes in Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Laws.
It’s November 2022, the wedding and holiday season has arrived and your social calendar is buzzing with RSVPs. What is the first thing you do? Figure out what to wear and the urge to wear new outfits for each of those events never goes away right? Money is often a barrier that prevents us from purchasing a large number of outfits, but do we truly pause to consider the environmental cost?
By producing inexpensive replicas and releasing new collections at a breakneck pace, fast fashion has deceitfully solved the affordability problem while creating an illusion of trends.
The fast fashion industry feeds off of the consumer’s desire to wear couture on a budget and keep their social media feeds fresh. While we happily save money on fast fashion, the earth and the workers making those clothes pay a very high price.
In order to appreciate the need for sustainable fashion alternatives, it is pertinent to understand the harm that fashion industry is causing.
1- Depletion of resources: Around 80 billion to 150 billion pieces of clothing are produced and sold annually worldwide. Fossil fuels are used in the production and distribution of clothing at a considerably greater rate than is necessary for their replenishment. Water use and CO2 emissions during garment production are incredibly high. Environmental hazards are further increased by the use of dyes and chemicals throughout the production process. Up to 10% of worldwide CO2 emissions are attributed to the fashion industry, which is primarily dependent on petrochemical products.
2- Overproduction and waste accumulation: Fashion is one of the top polluting industries when it comes to textile waste because of rising consumerism and quickening garment production. The amount of garments manufactured annually has doubled since 2000, according to McKinsey and the World Economic Forum. It is estimated that 92 million tonnes of textile waste are produced annually throughout the world, which is the same as one garbage truck full of clothing being dumped in landfills every second. These clothes don't degrade and stay in landfills for over 200 years.
The fast fashion industry uses a linear model of take-make-dispose. As an alternative brands are now exploring circular models where each process right from manufacturing to disposal is carried out in an earth-friendly manner.
However, achieving circularity is not easy and will take a very long time to be implemented in full swing. Meanwhile, there are other sustainable ways to consume fashion responsibly. One such option is to opt for fashion rentals.
Why buy when you can Rent?
Fashion rentals are sustainable as well as an affordable option when it comes to responsible consumption. In India, the rental fashion market is relatively new yet has already begun to expand favourably. By 2023, it is anticipated that the global online rental fashion market would be worth US$4,828.3 billion. The sustainable bridge-building between rising demand and garment availability is what has led to this rise in the rental fashion market. Both Gen Z and millennials prefer access over ownership and are conscious of the repercussions of their choices. We live in an era of the shared economy where everything from houses, cars to furniture and appliances can be rented, then why not clothing?
Companies renting fashion ensure optimum utilzation of the garments. Rentals are an excellent way to suffice the need of wearing new outfits to every occasion without adding mountains of waste. The clothing is kept in use for a very long period by modest repairs and adjustments as opposed to being purchased and discarded after a single use. Extending the life of clothes by an extra nine months reduces its carbon, water, and waste footprint by around 20-30% each, and cuts the cost in resources used to supply, launder and dispose of clothing by 20%.
Rental fashion companies also take care of the end of life of the products. Damaged pieces are repaired and fixed to be sold as preloved clothing which can then be enjoyed by people for some more time.
Rentals are not heavy on natural resources as no manufacturing takes place. There is no waste generated nor any toxins are released into the environment during the rental process. To reduce the distance traveled by garments via online rentals, companies are now opening stores to be able to reach their customers faster with minimum resources. With increased in cosnsumer awareness rentals are becoming popular amongst masses.
If you are wondering on how to decide what should be rented and what should be bought, let me break it down for you. 70% of our wardrobe is made up of everydaywear and 30% of it is occasion wear. However, this 30% contributes to 90% of your spend on clothing and is the hardly been worn section. Renting these outfits instead of buying and storing saves money and is healthy for the environment. Heavy Indian ethnic outfits are hardly repeated so it makes sense to rent these outfits.
Sustainability cannot be achieved overnight but small behavioral changes by both brands and consumers go a long way. Whether it is thrifting, buying new clothes or renting, it should always be done mindfully.