Iconic British luxury brand, Burberry, recently launched its first ever womenswear rental and resale offering. Partnering with luxury rental and resale platform My Wardrobe HQ, coveted Burberry pieces — including trench coats, scarves and handbags — will be available to rent for 4, 7, 10 or 14 day periods, with weekly rental prices ranging from £41 to £170 GBP.
The partnership marks Burberry’s first move into the circular fashion space and is part of its pledge to champion more sustainable consumption habits. Further cementing its commitment to corporate responsibility, 40% of profits from each Burberry transaction on My Wardrobe HQ will be donated to Smart Works, a UK charity which assists disadvantaged and unemployed women with coaching and work clothes for interviews.
“Our partnership with My Wardrobe HQ is complementary to our broader strategy to become climate positive by 2040, supporting the principles of a circular economy for luxury. This includes expanding reuse, repair, donation and recycling routes and developing new partnerships and revaluation solutions.” Pam Batty, Burberry VP of corporate responsibility, told Vogue.
My Wardrobe HQ co-founder, Tina Lake, revealed that Burberry was one of the most-requested brands on My Wardrobe HQ’s peer-to-peer service. While the service is only available in the UK for now, resale orders can ship across Europe and there are talks of expanding to the US in 2022.
The rental fashion market continues to thrive, with the global online clothing rental market expected to reach a value of $2.08 Billion USD by 2025. A combination of increased accessibility to once out-of-reach luxury brands and growing concerns for sustainability makes the rental fashion market highly appealing to Millennial and Gen-Z shoppers.
As consumers continue to demand sustainability from fashion retailers, the spotlight will shift to the business model itself. For luxury brands like Burberry, this means evolving to a circular economy which supports the pre-owned and rental market.
The Ellen Macarthur Foundation defines a circular economy for fashion as one which creates better products and services for customers, contributes to a resilient and thriving fashion industry, and regenerates the environment.
While brands are increasingly banning the use of animal furs, moving to recycled and innovative materials, or investing in carbon-neutral practices, a circular economy built around renting and reselling products could have a far-reaching impact. Studies have shown that increasing the number of times we wear a single piece of clothing is one of the best things we as consumers can do in terms of reducing the environmental and social impact of our wardrobes.
Still, a truly circular economy is not only about circulating an item for as long as its maximum value is retained, it’s also about returning it safely to the ecosystem when it is no longer of use. Luxury brands should ensure materials across their entire range are not just made from recycled materials, but are actually recyclable at end of life. Critics have also pointed to the carbon footprint of dry cleaning and transporting of items back and forth between rentals. However, rental service providers and brands have responded by highlighting gains elsewhere in the supply chain, for example the amount of water saved from reducing the production of new products.
While the model may not be perfect, it’s a step in the right direction and marks a turning point for luxury brands who have long managed to avoid calls for sustainability when compared to their fast fashion counterparts.