What’s missing from everyday fashion rental subscription services?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is an excerpt of a current article from the blog of Nikki Baird, VP of retail innovation at Aptos. The article first appeared on Forbes.com.
Online fashion rental has taken off in recent years. The initial focus was on high-end accessories and apparel for “once in a lifetime” events like weddings or pregnancy, but that has now extended to making high-end labels approachable to average budgets, giving a wear-it-and-move-on fashionista the opportunity to look like she has the closet of a Kardashian.
The next round in fashion rentals looks to target the more everyday shopper with Express, Ann Taylor and New York & Co. all launching businesses. Each follows the exact same model (unlimited exchanges, pre-paid shipping, free laundry) with different assortments and price points for a three-item subscription. NY&Co comes in the cheapest at $50 per month, followed by Express ($70) and Ann Taylor ($95).
I decided to try NY&Co, placing 13 items into my “on the rack” list. Three items soon arrived, but the whole experience was a letdown.
Even opening the box failed to hold the same anticipation that, say, StitchFix holds. I don’t know what StitchFix will send me. I know that all the things in the NY&Co box will be things I picked, so that “Christmas morning” feeling was diminished.
But the major problem for me is the vague uneasiness that accompanies such services, which is pretty much a little whisper that says, “You don’t own these.”
NY&Co’s box did offer options to purchase the rental items at a steep discount that adds some value to the proposed $600-per-year subscription service. But I’m not wearing something exciting, like for a special event, and I’m not wearing something that makes me feel special, like a high-end label that I would never buy on my own. (I still have the heavy satin bridesmaid dress in my closet from the last wedding I was in, which I think is going on 10 years ago.) And I find, without that kind of value equation — even with the potential discount on items I might keep — it’s just not as satisfying as owning.
As someone who admittedly has a subscription box addiction, it was a feeling I did not expect.
- The Curious Emptiness Of Renting Everyday Fashion – Forbes
- NY&CO Closet
- Infinite Style By Ann Taylor
- Express Style Trial
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of the business potential of everyday clothing subscription services such as those described in the article? Do you think consumers are changing their notions about ownership and are increasingly open to renting products that have traditionally been purchased?