John Lewis moves into growing fashion rental market through tie-up with Hurr

John Lewis has launched a new fashion rental service to enable shoppers to hire clothing and accessories rather than buying. 

The retailer says the online service has been launched in order to offer customers more sustainable choices, given that up to 10% of annual global emissions stem from the fashion industry. Shoppers in the UK, says John Lewis, buy more clothes per head than any other country in Europe, making it important to provide customers with a more sustainable solution. The new service comes at a time that online clothing rental is projected to become a $2bn market by 2025.

Those using the John Lewis service can choose from a range including dresses, skirts, trousers, bags and jewellery from brands sold by John Lewis, including Anna Scholtz, Biba, O Pioneers and & Other Stories. John Lewis says its expert buyers curate the service, which is run in partnership with fashion rental business Hurr. 

Rentals last from between four and 20 days, with clothing delivered to the customer’s home. After wearing, they can be returned using a pre-paid postal label. If an item doesn’t fit, the customer can send it straight back for a full refund, less the cost of dry cleaning and postage. Up to £50 of damage can be covered through a £5 damage protection add-on at the time of booking a rental, although renters would be expected to cover the cost of replacing the item if it is lost or damaged beyond repair.

John Lewis commercial director Kathleen Mitchell, says: “Our new rental platform introduces new and exciting designers to our customers, encouraging them to support a more sustainable way to shop. Offering a stylish edit of new brands mixed with exclusive products from our own collections, this a truly unique proposition that cannot be found by any other high street retailer.

Shopping more sustainably shouldn’t have to cost the earth, that’s why supporting innovative partnerships can truly make a difference and help change consumer behaviours.”

Hurr CEO Victoria Prew, says: “We are thrilled to announce the launch of John Lewis Fashion Rental, a truly circular model that will attract the next-generation customer. We are excited to learn, test and build a valuable rental business in collaboration with the forward thinking innovation teams at John Lewis.”

Latest entrant into a fast-growing market

The John Lewis service marks the arrival of another mainstream retailer into fashion rental. Moss Bros operates a Moss Box menswear subscription service, launched last year, for mens workwear, which features its own brand clothing as well clothing from third-party brands including Ted Baker and Hugo Boss. L.K. Bennett has launched a similar service. At launch, both used clothing-as-a-service technology from CaaStle. 

Last Christmas, Burberry launched a clothing rental scheme, in partnership with MyWardrobe HQ, while Simply Be, part of the N Brown Group, launched into the market this summer via a collaboration with Hirestreet. 

All these retailers bill this as a sustainable option, which is certainly a key driver in the growth of the market. One forecast, from ResearchandMarkets.com, suggests that the online clothing rental market is expected to grow to €2bn by 2025, from $1.26bn by 2019. This, says the analyst, will come as shoppers – particularly millennials – get used to subscribing to goods rather than owning them. In the case of fashion, this enables them to keep up with fast change in fashion. 

John Lewis’ broader approach to rentals

It also adds to an expanding range of rental services being offered by John Lewis. Parents can also rent clothing for children through its partnership with The Little Loop service, which launched in May.

And on a larger scale, parent company John Lewis Partnership plans to build housing for rent. It recently announced the first three locations – over branches of Waitrose in Bromley, West Ealing and on the site of an empty John Lewis warehouse in Reading. Over the next decade, the John Lewis Partnership plans to build a total of 10,000 houses to be part of a wider ‘built to rent’ property market, and to help raise standards in property rentals. A spokesperson for the retailer says: “We recognise on a wider scale the need to integrate circular business models into the customer journey, to achieve our net zero ambitions.” Shoppers can also recycle secondhand clothing, appliances and mattresses through the retailer.

John Lewis is ranked Top50 in RXUK Top500 research.

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