Why Menswear Rental is The Next Big Wave in Fashion
For consumers who want to flaunt more styles in their wardrobe but do not actually want to pay the price, online subscriptions & rental services are becoming a smarter choice worldwide.
And with the success of these subscription models, retailers have realized the need to address this growing trend in verticals beyond women’s categories. Initially started for women with brands like RenttheRunway.com, rental shopping is now being adopted by men.
According to Euromonitor, the purchase estimate for both men’s and women’s clothing has slowed down in the past few years but menswear has started to challenge womenswear. Euromonitor predicts that this will continue, forecasting that men’s clothing sales will grow up to 1.7% as compared to women’s 1.4%. This is mostly due to exposure of men’s fashion on social media platforms like Instagram and dress codes for men easing up over the years, according to Fashion and Beauty consultants.
The huge success of Women’s Rentals and Subscriptions
Renting fashion has grown in popularity since 2016, and has become a huge part of the ‘Sharing Economy’ wherein goods are not restricted to a single owner but are shared and rented. Consumers are looking for alternative ways to dress, be it a subscription box service, styling service or rentals. This turns out to be much easier on the consumer’s pockets and gives you the opportunity to wear products you would normally not be able to afford.
According to Forbes, millennials are definitely on the bandwagon (31% currently subscribed to boxes and 38% thinking of subscribing) and 22% of baby boomers are also planning to subscribe in the upcoming months.
The percentage of men using subscription boxes has also increased. They use it for basics, skincare, formal shirts, and even sneakers. Many brands like Birchbox Man, and Stitch Fix Man are giving their customers many subscription plans to choose from. The reason behind the increase in sales for these boxes is the personalized experience the consumer enjoys receiving their boxes.
Shameless plug, we created Joinswitch for a start-up retailer in SF, USA as a similar platform for women who want to be more sustainable in their choices. It gives them a chance to rent products from a brand that reflects their personal preferences, hence adding more value to their purchase.
Rentals for Menswear, why not?
Many retailers have begun catering to the menswear segment. Mr. and Mrs Collection, a mix of rental and styling services, remains one of the pioneers. Originally launched in 2012, they were exclusively catering to menswear, and later branched into womenswear. Another popular pick is Black Tux, but this platform has only been catering to one clothing segment: Formal Wear. Brands are now realizing the need for rentals, and retailers are increasingly tapping into this demand.
Streetwear, Instagram and their impact on Men’s Fashion
Streetwear has become increasingly popular lately. Consumers want to be seen wearing these high-end styles, like the many influencers and celebrities sporting them online. They are now building their lifestyles around the latest trends that these influencers are flaunting. Rentals have made this fashion merchandise easily available to consumers at the touch of a button.
Online marketplaces like LSwop let you rent, lend and buy sneakers for a minimum of $150. The prices vary according to your renting needs and preferences. There is a huge market for pre-used sneakers that sell like hotcakes because of their large demand.
This is one of the biggest reasons people are now investing in sneakers, rather than other forms of luxury, because of its high return on investment.
Rentals have now made it easier for men to flaunt their high-end lifestyle and feel good while doing so. It is a low investment and high return plan.
Before you immerse yourself knee-deep in this business, there are a few important factors you should keep in mind:
- Prepare to deal with complex Logistics: To begin with, there are more logistical complexities than an average e-commerce business. You will find yourself ‘holding’ inventory and large inventory would mean having in-house dry cleaning facilities to ensure high levels of hygiene. High-end clothing requires tremendous amounts of care and would hence, require a bigger investment.
- You might have to ‘build’ the market: Men, in general, are not open to the idea of sharing their clothes. For a very long time, women have delved into the culture of sharing bags, clothes, jewelry and more. Men, on the other hand, have never really been introduced to this concept. Their comfort levels of sharing clothes vary greatly from women. This has made it harder for them to acclimatize themselves with this shift. Furthermore, the growth of Instagram influencers has eased this perception, but there is a long way to go.
- Think beyond Monotonous styles & categories: Men have known to be slaves to staples. A few formal shirts and a couple of pants and they have an entirely new wardrobe.
Some even go to the extent of introducing a daily uniform to save time. CEO’s and high ranked professionals wear nothing but suits and Tuxedos and the same styles of shirts over and over again. It is the staples that count for men.
Most rental agencies currently provide services catering solely for the formal wear section. Thus, giving men more styles and options to choose from and creating a safe and trusting zone for experimental fashion could be a good start for someone wanting to enter this space.
- Build a Community: Another important key to building a trustworthy service is the community of people loyal to the brand. It is essential to build a platform for consumers to understand that they are valued, and their tastes are catered to. According to McKinsey, 28% of the surveys said that the experience was the most important reason for them to subscribe to a rental or subscription box service.
Take the website Rent The Runway, for example, their services are known as the “Netflix for customers” for good reason. The secret to their success lies in building a highly customized experience, for a 22 to a 65-year-old, it has multiple and diverse options for every segment. The experience is delivered flawlessly to give them a convenient and personalized service that meets their needs at every step.
It boils down to creating a community of consumers who feel empowered and have an already existing relationship with the brand. Existing websites like Grailed have a large base of loyal shoppers. They have built this over years of value sharing and building one-on-one customer relationships. The Mercer Club is also another great example of relationships built on the basis of values. They offer a unique range of Luxury Streetwear, which can be rented once you are a member. This ensures a sense of privilege to their consumers and provides the brand with a loyal base of customers at the same time.
With Fashion taking a more sustainable turn, this would be a natural progression in the retail scenario. With a large percentage of men adapting to street style and experimenting with their fashion sense, it would be ideal for them to have more platforms to access. If you’re a budding retailer looking to expand into the menswear rental service, this would be a great time to start.
Hi I’m Aikum, a Business of Fashion graduate from Polimoda, Florence. I love Korean barbeque and I’m a self-proclaimed Instagram Queen. I’m a part of the content team here at ILFR and love analyzing and writing about Fashion brands.