Rent a dress: a designer’s distress

d458377b0c084ab42137180f65abf6cdYou’ve got your best friends birthday celebrations this weekend and you need to look 1000 times hotter than her annoying model friends, what are you going to wear? Do you head to James Street to acquire a new $800 designer number; opt for David Jones’ sale racks, saving yourself $55 off RRP; or perhaps you rent a dress for a mere $90 from a fellow local Zimmerman lover?

The rent-a-dress business has grown exponentially in the past couple of years and has completely changed how partygoers find their perfect outfit. Providing women of many sizes the opportunity to simply rent an outfit for a particular event and return it for a fraction of the price of a new outfit in a new savvy and secure way. But is this model negatively affecting the luxury fashion industry and creating more problems than it’s solving?

In theory, the whole concept seems attractive. Wearing an outfit way out of your usual Saturday night ‘get-up’ price range for a tenth of the price? Yes please! But is this new craze damaging the future of Australian fashion as we spend our disposable incomes on the same handful of dresses week after week? In affect, is this new industry ruining the careers of some of our favourite Australian designers?

Josh Goot undergoing Voluntary Administration

Since the first outfit-renting site popped up in 2010, notable Australian designers have seen themselves fall into voluntary administration. Fashion icons such as Josh Goot, Bettina Liano, Kirrily Johnston and Lisa Ho to name a few, have had to restructure their business models or in some cases liquidate.

Loved on an international scale, these brands have been instrumental in shaping the Australian fashion industry. Having so many consumers ‘borrowing’ countless designer items every week as opposed to actually buying them, detrimentally affects hard working Australian fashion label’s profits and ability to maintain operations.

That’s not to say the rental industry is the sole culprit, as we can’t assume that every girl renting these outfits can afford to buy designer pieces for every goddamn 18th or 21st. However, with Australia having one of the highest number of clothing rental companies per capita… it’s definitely a factor to consider

Larissa Walsh, founder of Facebook group-cum-market leader, Rent A Dress AU, is all for the rental dress market saying it has a positive effect on the luxury fashion economy in Australia.

“While the easy answer appears to be that rental sites are causing the demise of our luxury fashion economy, I don’t believe that is true. Many individuals are now actually purchasing more designer items because they can afford to through the ability to rent them out,” explains Walsh.

Although the industry has a large number of endorsers, rental dress sites aren’t all rainbows and smiles. Many women have horror stories to tell about their dress rental nightmares.

A close friend and rental dress veteran, Ashleigh says she will never use any such sites again after her wardrobe was severely wounded by a dress-envious scoundrel. After reluctantly advertising her groovy $500 Sass & Bide playsuit on one of the many clothing-rental sites, Ashleigh was messaged within a couple of hours by an eager renter.

2a105533cb947dc690cba96dd8a59ba7Long story short, Ashleigh went to message ‘renter gal’ a couple of days after her alleged party, but to her shock, she had been completely blocked on Facebook and no contact could be made with the now renter-rat. Renter-rat had stolen her $500 playsuit! Vouching to never rent or borrow again, Ashleigh was left completely inconsolable with a $10 advertising fee and nothing ‘hot’ to wear while she cried.

There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding to use dress rental websites. Although the idea of renting the same dress Gigi Hadid rocked last week seems appealing, there are too many unfavourable prophecies involved in the whole process…. I love you Josh Goot *sad emoji*

Just like cheap overseas replicas have destroyed the Michael Kors ‘Selma’ tote, allowing every girl access to the same designer pieces every weekend is having a negative affect on Australian fashion labels.
For me, nothing can replace the proud mother moment of saving up and purchasing your own designer outfit to add to your collection of precious babies…and to not share with anyone but you!

  1. I honestly don’t understand the whole borrowing phenomenon, it’s effectively giving someone something that may have cost a lot of money, means something to you and may be something you adore, only for them to pay a small fee and probably sweat through it with fake tan and stain it with makeup. Also, the rise of Facebook groups like the ‘For Sale’ group are only making this bigger, and it’s unfortunately not uncommon what happened to your friend. There’s also the issue of actually catching these people: how do you prove they stole it from you? It doesn’t make sense to me, if you love something, work hard, save up for it and eventually be happy when you do buy it. Don’t go asking 20,000 other girls on a Facebook page if anyone has something ‘nice, preferably designer’ for one night.

  2. Very well written and very informative. I must say I didn’t know that there was such a business as ‘Rent a Dress’! Feel for Ashleigh, there are some unscrupulous people out there and it never ends ceases to amaze me what people get up to ripping others off!

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