Rosalyn Wikeley talks us through high fashion, the sustainable way…
Fast fashion is playing a seminal role in destroying our planet, polluting our oceans and generating a staggering 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases a year (more than all international flights). The sartorial shame is real.
‘50% of fast fashion pieces are discarded with a year…we need to close this loop’ – Anna Bance, co-founder of Girl Meets Dress
While reconciling luxury fashion with sustainability is a tough gig in itself, the dizzying rise of the rental model, paired with a fine vintage renaissance is certainly a step in the right direction.
With social media placing an expiry date on luxury pieces and the likes of Airbnb, Netflix and Uber opening the sharing and subscription economy floodgates, British consumers have never been more open to leasing high end fashion. As long as dry cleaning and delivery impact is scrutinised, rental fashion reduces waste, improves the life-span of clothing and reduces custodians’ fabric footprint with a more circular economy. If a monthly cocktail of Simone Rocha dresses, Fendi ski suits and Carven coats sounds appealing, consider signing on to one of the below. Just steer clear of the red wine…
Rent the Runway
Lauded for leading the charge on the rental fashion movement, Rent the Runway was founded in 2009 by Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss in the US and began by offering women low rental fees for designer dresses. The company recently graduated to two ‘membership’ models, now with over 550 designer partners offering pieces for a plethora of occasions and even exclusive capsule collections for Rent the Runway.
Highlight: a rotating subscription wardrobe with a review facility with models mirroring member’s own shape.
Shika Bodani launched Front Row, London’s first luxury designer rental service, in 2016, spotting a gap in the market for a high-end fashion wardrobe on rotation. Bodani saw the fashion influencer culture as key to peddling the sartorial shift and endeavoured to bring America’s rental success stories to the UK, enabling clients instant access to the hottest designers and trends for a fraction of the retail price.
Highlight: fresh-off-the-runway with an exceptional styling service
Girl Meets Dress
With a pay-as-you-go or membership option, Girl Meets Dress is Europe’s leading fashion rental site on a mission to build a ‘wardrobe in the cloud’. Founding the company in 2009, Anna Bance pins the new borrowing norm on the rise of the experience economy where trips are prioritised over expensive designer dresses, along with an increasing consumer conscience and responsible shopping mentality. Ideal for occasion wear from weddings to the races, shoppers can order dresses as far in advance as they wish, there is no limit.
Highlight:shipping and returns are on the house for any UK deliveries
France’s answer to ‘rent-a-porter’, Panoply, launched last year as an online designer clothes rental and personal styling service with a multi-brand fashion show at Parisian department store doyen, Galeries Lafayette. Founders, Ingrid Brochard and Emmanuelle Brizay lamented their wardrobe graveyards and sought to shake up the European fashion rental mentality, emulating the success of Rent the Runway in the US.
Highlight: any unused credit spills over to the next month and dry-cleaning fees are included.
Wear the Walk
Founded in 2017 by Zoe Partridge, Wear the Walk is a rental platform enabling women to access emerging designers that have sustainability at their core, from the materials to the manufactures used. They have a two-pronged approach to sustainability, reaching the ‘I have nothing to wear’ consumer while scrutinising the production process of designers.
Highlight:cool, next gen brands from only £99 subscription per month.
Launching only last year, Voyager Club is a luxury travel service and styling facility for the jet setting, time-poor glitterati after a seamless, stylish trip. Co-founders, Sophie Caulcutt and Ashley Barras’ recently extended their services into more sustainable territory, curating optimised eco-friendly and sustainable travel across their wardrobe and accommodation.
Highlight:the chicest sustainable fashion going.
Preloved or a Good Vintage
Another way of increasing the lifespan of clothing is going down the vintage or resale route. The pre-loved fashion industry has shrugged off its moth-riddled, kilo-shop jumper cliché and ushered in a more refined and dynamic identity.
Parisian powerhouse, Vestiaire Collective, defied the naysayers and brought vintage or rather ‘preloved’ into the tech sphere, operating as a high-end ebay with a rigorous quality control. Founded in Paris in 2009, Vestiaire is now the leading online marketplace for buying and selling pre-owned designer clothing and accessories.
Highlight:owning a Chanel coat or Zimmerman dress for under £500 is no longer fiction.
FarFetch (Vintage Area)
Vintage shopping is an art but requires calories, time and patience. E-commerce don, Farfetch, has set up a vintage area on their website that features swag from vintage shops around the world. If your knees buckle at a pair of 1970s tinted sunglasses, Farfetch Vintage is the one
Highlight:the website curation is polished to say the least.
HEWI (Hardly Ever Worn It) is the ultimate luxury fashion consignment website bursting at the seams with barely worn Dolce & Gabbana dresses to brand new (just the wrong colour for its custodian) Dior jackets et al.
Highlight:sellers can bung their designer bootie up there for free or opt for a VIP service where HEWI covers all the logistics for them.
Lime Green Bow
Sourcing statement and designer vintage for over a decade through her company Lime Green Bow, Clemmie Myers has observed a move away from digital and an increasing desire to interact with clothing. As such she has co-created Mrs & Mr Bateman, an interactive retail installation open in Notting Hill from 26thApril – 12thMay.
Highlight:personalities are involved, stories and touch…forgotten amulets of the fashion industry.
‘The sustainability factor makes it an obvious choice for increasingly conscious consumers, but it’s also about converting those who don’t have sustainability on their radar. I think changing people’s views on new items being somehow better or reflecting better on them is essential.’ – Clemmie Myers of Lime Green Bow