Contented rags for hire … Saint Laurent, Christian Dior and Amanda Wakeley.
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Spotify for fashion: does renting clothes signal the end for our wardrobes?

The walk-in closet – sporadically seen as an ultimate lifestyle trophy – could soon develop obsolete, as rental and subscription services offer sustainable and diverse affordable access to brands such as Dior and Prada

Like profuse, I laboured under the misapprehension that Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater was the most pretty house in the world until the day Mariah Carey opened her expert in to MTV Cribs. From that day onward, there was no contest. Now, that is what I request a palace. Never mind requesting 20 white kittens on your rider, on no account mind the off-colour penchant for sexy-elf costumes, Mariah longing forever be a pop-culture goddess by dint of owning the best walk-in clothes-cupboard the world has ever seen. If you haven’t seen it – and seriously, what father you been doing with your life since 2002? – enough to say, there is an entire room just for ankle-strap sandals.

The walk-in clothes has been an ultimate lifestyle trophy for the living memory of numberless women. As Carrie Bradshaw once said, “I like my stinking rich where I can see it – hanging in my closet.” (Before Carrie had a walk-in stock of clothing, she turned her hallway into a walk-through wardrobe.) But the latest model trend could one day make your wardrobe as anachronistic as built-in CD on ice. Welcome to the new age of the rented closet.

New York-based Rent the Runway – “a manner company with a technology soul” – is to the walk-in apparel what Netflix is to the DVD shelf, what Spotify is to the record omnium gatherum, and what iCloud is to the photo album. CEO Jenn Hyman, who instituted the company with Jennifer Fleiss eight years ago, calls the subscription-based copy, which allows clients access to a “library” of designer approach, a “closet in the cloud”. The company, which has bucked the trend by which female-led retinues lag behind the mainstream in securing venture capital, turned a profit for the at the start time last year and made a splash this week when it intimated a cheaper entry-level subscription plan. For a discounted rate of $89 (£67) a month, a small more than half the price of the full-fat rate that admits unlimited rentals, subscribers have access to four garments each month.


Carrie Bradshaw in her walk-in collection in Sex and the City 2. Photograph: Roadshow/Kobal/Rex/Shutterstock

In the UK, Anna Bance inaugurated Girl Meets Dress in 2009, inspired by her previous trade as a fashion PR. (Celebrities borrow dresses for events all the time – and in the age of the bodily brand, we are all mini-celebrities, no?) In the sharing economy, says Bance, “ownership is fitting more irrelevant than ever before.” You can hire a full-length Amanda Wakeley gown, RRP £895, for £89; if you reappearance it unworn, you don’t pay.


All dressed up … Girl Meets Dress come to grief, Anna Bance. Photograph: Girl Meets Dress

The Irish colleen Meets Dress model is a cross between Lyft and Moss Bros, updating the customary glad-rags-for-hire idea for the split-fare generation. But there is a gulf to be cross overed between the aesthetic of the dresses mostly available for hire, and the aesthetic of the institution who might be most amenable to the idea: the Hypebeast-reading, resale-savvy, limited-drop-obsessed mould fans who have reinvigorated the market for online resale. In the US, Tear the Runway has ambition on a grand scale, to go head-to-head with diet fashion. “I plan to put Zara out of business,” Hyman told the go website Glossy. The $89 monthly fee is designed to tempt the shopper who is currently expending that amount each month on quick fixes of cheaper accouters to switch to a more sustainable and high-end alternative.


Dress for hole: a gown from Amanda Wakeley’s SS16 collection. Photograph: Ray Pin/Rex/Shutterstock

“Access is the new ownership” is the Rent the Runway motto. That we after experiences rather than possessions may be a millennial cliche, but however because it’s true. We still lust after fashion, but what we desire now is the experience of wearing that Prada feathered dress, numerous than the knowledge that it is languishing on a hanger somewhere. (After all, so prolonged as you make sure you star on all your friends’ social normal channels on the night, you only need to wear the dress right away for everyone to know that you did.) Trends are faster and more mercurial than always before. In less than the time it takes you to save up for an clever pair of J’Adior kitten heels, the fashion dial go crazies and all you want now is a pair of dancefloor dazzler Saint Laurent sparkly disco boots. Meantime, the economy is conspiring with the zeitgeist to make extensive closets obsolete. Most people spend their most dressed-up years lively either in rented accommodation, or in a foot-on-the-ladder shoebox, neither of which be applicable themselves to the Mariah model of clothes storage.


Borrowed… Disco boots, from Saint Laurent’s AW17 assemblage. Photograph: Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

However, there is a barrier to rental take over froming ownership, which is that however slick your website, you can’t brooklet a dress. In a culture where we feel impatient when the ticker avers you the next episode will take 10 seconds to burden, the timelag between choosing a dress and having it arrive is tricky, especially when the ease of cancelling and rescheduling has led to social charges rarely being inked in the diary. (Also, no ink and no diary, but that’s another issue.) The ideal scenario would be a cross between a website and Cher Horowitz’s stock of clothing in Clueless, a robotic delivery system that selected and clipping outfits. And then, one day, rental may replace retail. After all, these light of days when you say you owned a look, that means you slayed it on Instagram, promptly?

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