Urban Outfitters' answer to the changing customer? Clothes for rent!

American fashion chain Urban Outfitters is launching a rental service for women's fashion, named Nuuly. Other brands have been experimenting with similar services to respond to changing consumer behaviour.

 

Six items per month

In exchange for a monthly contribution of 88 dollars (80 euros), Nuuly customers can rent six clothing items each month. These could be pieces from the retailer's private label or from external brands such as Reebok, Gal Meets Glam or Fila. The clothes will be delivered at home along with pre-stamped return packaging. Returned clothes are cleaned and rented out to other customers.

 

Urban Outfitters will be marketing Nuuly as a separate brand, initially limited to the United States. It will be managed by chief digital officer David Hayne, who thinks this is an extra service and that customers will not simply stop buying: in the Wall Street Journal, he claimed that purchases make sense when people know they will be wearing the items a lot, but renting makes sense when they just want to try out an item. He expects to generate a turnover of 50 million dollars within the first year.

 

Apparel for rent is a model that has been considered by other fashion chains before: after all, fashion changes quickly and consumers tend to want to wear certain outfits only once. Simultaneously, people are turning against the idea of disposable clothes and they are not willing to see their clothing budget explode. Rent the Runway has been a trendsetter in this segment, while American Eagle has had a similar programme for a few months, called Style Drop. Closer to home, there is the 'lease a jeans' programme by Mud Jeans.