Garment Renting Business: The Concepts, Its Benefits and Challenges

Garment renting business concepts

Fashion has always been about looking out for new launches, buying them, using them, and later either storing them in a corner of the wardrobe or throwing them away. While the buying process is fascinating, the use part can be particular to the type of garment purchased. Once a garment is worn, it often loses appeal, and we start looking for new launches again.

While this is not the case for everyday wear, for occasional wear, the story is the same. At times like this, owing something becomes a burden. What if there is an alternative to try new styles without committing to buying them? Explore the garment renting business concept, the benefits of renting garments for consumers, and common challenges in running such a business. 

The concept of commercialized cloth renting services

I’m sure that everyone at some point in time has rented clothes, accessories, etc for marriage events, official meetings, social gatherings, etc. from friends, family, or peers.

This works by borrowing for the occasion and returning the item after the purpose is fulfilled. This became the root of this ideology, and several brands worldwide have created business models surrounding this, offering customers a more sustainable choice.

Rental fashion has been familiar for some time as companies like Rent the Runway have been around for more than a decade. What's new is the growing mass adoption in the market, leading to the emergence of several other brands such as Nuuly, Vivrelle, Gwynnie Bee, Switch, Armoire, Pickle, Fashion Pass, and more.

How do renting services work

For most brands, renting services start with a subscription model wherein customers pay a monthly charge and receive a set number of items from the company’s stock. This subscription charge has several tiers, determining the quantity or types of items customers can pick. These also allow customers to rent out their closets. This started with just readymade garments but has since expanded to bags, jewellery, shoes, limited items, etc.

Adding to this there is also an option available for single clothing rental which can be for a wedding, party, etc. Why go to two different functions in the same clothing right?

This system has been made possible with the help of the web, where the actual owner of the garment and accessories can put up details for the consumer to choose from. Upon selection, the consumer can order the product and return it by mail when its purpose is served. The apparel resenting company takes care of the laundry and quality checks. However, for this system to work, the consumer has to be responsible for the product they leased. The versatility of this model allows the actual owner of the garment to be anyone, from a consumer to retail brands, fashion designers, haute couture, etc.

Returning items is relatively easy for most services, as the return shipping label is already included in the bag. The user simply has to drop it off at the post office.

How renting services can affect our shopping preferences

After decades of growth in fast fashion, people have started acknowledging its impact on their everyday lives and the environment. With prices rising for new items, keeping up with the trends becomes financially difficult. Previously, people bought clothes only when needed, but as fashion became more accessible, the fine line between needs and necessity blurred.

Amid this, clothing rental services are becoming an economical and environmentally friendly alternative, helping save money without breaking the bank. This way one can move towards wearing luxury products as well by paying a fraction of the cost and not be limited to only a few items but have endless options to style. Some services even provide on-call stylists to help customers pick items, style, and create personalised closets.

Likewise, for a person who would like to rent out their product, purchases need to be durable enough to endure multiple users, keep documentation of purchases for future reference, take good care of their purchases, etc.

Challenges in the cloth resting business

What are the challenges faced by the business in this sector?

Like every other business, garment renting services also come with a lot of challenges. 

1. The perception of renting clothes is that one would be wearing second-hand or used products, considering they can be unhygienic. This is true of the fact that a lot of diseases can be transmitted through wearing something that has been worn previously by a sick person. Thus it becomes critical to have the product properly cleaned and sanitised before being shipped to the user.

2. One of the most important expectations from renting products is to purchase the latest product trends and have them returned by the next trend cycle. Still, it contradicts the fact that for a product to be available on a renting website, it needs to be bought by someone in the first place, and by the time he/she decides to rent out the product it has already passed the trend cycle.

3. Size is a big issue as the renting business depends on the user base diversity and uncommon sizes may or may not be available for certain styles. Thus users are limited to the available stock options.

4. The product lifecycle also becomes important as every garment is limited to the number of washing cycles it can endure. This makes lightweight, heavily embellished, complicated silhouette products unsuitable for renting.

5. It is a customer-driven business so the fewer customers available the lesser will be the stock available for renting.

Other issues such as uncertainty of proper fit, theft, mishandling, etc. also plague the business. However, companies are figuring out ways to deal with these challenges through customer review systems, ensuring customer satisfaction, regular shuffling of stock, customised fittings, etc. It is the mindset that needs to be changed towards rental clothing as it can be a better alternative to fast fashion.

Prominent renting businesses in India

With the global expansion in the renting business, India is also not behind. In the past few years, several brands have emerged bringing the concept of commercial renting and modifying it to make it work with the Indian customer. Each company is different in terms of product category, price ranges, and business model. I encourage everyone to explore them. The more we support this business, the more it will grow.


The garment renting business involves offering a service where customers can rent clothing items for a specified period instead of purchasing them. This business model has gained popularity due to several factors such as cost savings, sustainability, variety of access, and convenience. As mentioned above there are challenges in this clothing business format. 

The business model typically includes subscription plans, one-time rentals, and membership options. Companies also focus on ensuring high standards of garment hygiene and quality maintenance to retain customer trust and satisfaction. The cloth renting business leverages the growing consumer preference for sustainable and economical fashion solutions, presenting a viable alternative to traditional clothing retail.

Related Articles:

How to Get into the Garment Business?

How to Start a Garment Business (Production Unit)

Soumyadeep Saha

Soumyadeep Saha holds a Master's Degree in Fashion Technology from NIFT, New Delhi. He is also a graduate in apparel production. His area of interest includes Quality Assurance and technology implementations in Apparel Production.

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