Close this search box.

Japan Airlines launches clothing rental trial – why inventory management is key


On Wednesday [05 July 2023] Japan Airlines introduced its holiday wardrobe rental trial, to help customers cut down on baggage therefore reducing fuel, CO2 emissions and create a more sustainable travel option.

The ‘Any Wear, Anywhere’ rental service, which runs until August 2024, will see orders of up to nine items delivered to customers’ hotels or Airbnb on arrival in Japan.

For the trial Japan Airlines has partnered with Sumitomo Corporation, which will handle the reservation system and fulfilment of the clothing.

Having the right fulfilment partner for the trial could prove critical to its success. We have already seen UK fashion retailers team up with rental platforms to ensure a smooth delivery and reverse logistics process for their rental offering. This form of “white label” clothing rental has allowed the likes of Jigsaw and M&S to provide consumers with a rental offering, while handing over the operations to platforms such as MyWardrobeHQ and HireStreet.

Hear more from MyWardrobeHQ as Charlotte Fairbairn talks to the RetailCraft podcast team about carving a new path for fashion brands in the re-commerce, circular economy. Learn from Charlotte some of the operational and business challenges they’ve overcome in their journey, as well as some choice insights on what it takes to create circular commerce with your customer.

Getting the operations right will be increasingly important as retailers and rental start-ups alike compete for a share of this growing market. It is estimated that online clothing rental will grow at a CAGR of 9.8% between now and 2027. In the UK alone, the fashion rental market is expected to hit £2.3bn by 2029, according to GlobalData.

This growth could be hampered by the lack of a sufficient inventory management system, a report by TechNavio has warned.

It stressed that retailers, or the platforms they work with, could face stock issues when there is a high demand for a particular type of clothing. A high-speed reverse logistics system is also needed to complete product returns, with these closely inspected for damages.

Technavio also recommended that rental operations maintain a separate track of SKUs for clothing under different stages, such as new items, older items, damaged items, and return items for laundry services.

Furthermore, they must check for timely replacements of older clothing items with new items. The report warned that a weak inventory management system could impact the overall business of retailers, or airlines, operating in the online clothing rental market.

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on