H&M Tests Renting Clothes in Sustainability Effort

trendy blouses and rompers arranged on racks at an H&M department store Source: Gladys Vega/Getty The quest for global sustainability provides a natural brand upgrade in some industries.  With food and body care, consumers look for organic and GMO-free products. High fuel efficiency sells autos. How about casinos? The gambling industry has put their heads together to help inspire a happy planet and ended up with the Sustainable Gambling Conference. Established in 2016, this organization connects people across the industry to discuss how to secure long-term sustainable marketing goals. Another industry looking to invest in more sustainable options is fashion. Specifically, Hennes and Mauritz AB, also known as H&M, is testing out a rental service in its Stockholm location to see if they can provide long-term options to decrease fast fashion’s carbon footprint.

Jumping on the Rental Bandwagon

Late 2019 has seen H&M dive into the clothing rental industry at its newly refurbished store in Sergels Torg, located in Stockholm’s central square. Swedish shoppers are among of the first of H&M fans to rent elite, choice items. For now, only available at the Stockholm location, H&M has jumped on a hot trend that is growing exponentially. The Sweden-based global fashion company is joining many other clothing rental businesses, including Rent the Runway, Gwynnie Bee, and Le Tote. Other traditional retailers testing out clothing rental programs include Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, American Eagle, Express, New York & Co., and Ann Taylor. H&M is the biggest name so far to launch a rental program, and fashionistas eagerly await the results.

A Trial Period for Now

So far, H&M is considering testing this out for three months first before deciding whether to make the rental program a permanent arm of the company. The rental trial is only available right now to the company’s loyalty members. If the three months go well, the company will consider expanding the program internationally. Customers can try the rental service for 30 days at a time, subscribing to rent clothes. After the 30 days pass, they must either return or purchase the garments. The offer also, for now, contains limited access. Members can only choose from select skirts and dresses, including bridal gowns and party dresses, that are part of the 2012-2019 Conscious Exclusive collections. This line also happens to include H&M’s more expensive items. The program is set up so members can receive up to three items each week, not beyond 50 curated items per month. Each item is valued at approximately 350 Swedish kronor, or $37 USD. Additionally, according to the website, all the items involved in the Conscious Exclusive collections are crafted from “more sustainable materials.” The website also states that “our Conscious Exclusive collections are recurring collections at the forefront of H&M’s sustainability work.”

A Motivation for Mindfulness

What is behind all this sustainability work? Public and environmental outcry, so it appears. H&M has recently come under fire for major environmental costs, due to the sheer volume of clothing they and other fast-fashion companies manufacture. The company, who also owns brands like Cos, Cheap Monday, Monki, ARKET, and Weekday, has been accused of contributing to climate change with cheap-mass-made clothing. The decision also follows a United Nations report from early 2019 that declared fashion as the second industry in the world to cause the worst pollution. Alone, the fashion industry uses enough water every year to bring the precious resource to a million people. To start turning around the dialog, H&M and other resale and rental companies have started promoting themselves as sustainable, compared to fast fashion, to placate the criticism. Fast fashion has often been criticized for unethical productions and encourages consumers to frequently dispose of clothing. Dumping all this fabric equates to half a million tons of microfiber, which is like dumping three million barrels of oil into the ocean each year. Whether the clothing rental business model truly is a more environmentally sustainable option has not been proven yet by any in-depth studies, but H&M is trying. Even by naming its new rental lines the “Conscious Exclusive” collection, H&M is turning heads and getting people to consider them in a society more conscious of the declining health of the planet. In a further attempt to reverse the damage they have done, the country also intends for its gas emissions production to be negative by 2040. a lone hand rising through the surface of water is a metaphor for the earth dying in spite of its calls for help Source: Ian Espinosa/Unsplash

Will the Rental Business Be Successful?

With the boom in clothing rental popularity, this may be a strong option for H&M. The chain has been struggling to maintain profits in recent years, especially with a saturated fast fashion market in Europe and the United States. Another factor contributing to the company’s decline may be that even though shoppers are able to buy cheaper and cheaper clothing, the general consumer seems to be experiencing less enjoyment constantly committing to and buying new clothes. To that end, a rental program may be what saves H&M and similar stores, providing a sustainable image while giving consumers a constantly revolving closet. Thinking in green? You may also like: https://www.royalvegascasino.com/blog/the-gambling-industry-goes-green-with-greta/.


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