H&M trials renting clothes in Sweden to tackle 'fast fashion' epidemic

  • Photo: Source: Hennes & Mauritz AB

    High street fashion retailer H&M is testing out a clothing rental service in its flagship Stockholm store, in an attempt to reduce ‘fashion pollution’.

    As of last Friday, customers can rent garments for 350 Swedish Krona (around £28) a week from the refurbished shop on the Sergels Torg square.

    The Swedish merchant follows competitors Banana Republic and Urban Outfitters, which both launched similar services earlier this year to tap into the sustainable fashion market that reached $1bn in 2018.

    Similar websites such as Vinted and Hurr Collective are also expanding in Europe, offering consumers a way to sell or rent used clothes.

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    H&M’s rental model is limited to a collection of 50 garments offered to members of the company’s loyalty program. The company will assess the trial in three months before expanding any further, so it is unclear if and when this rental system could reach UK and Irish stores.

    The Sergels Torg shop will also feature clothing repair services, a coffee shop and a beauty bar.“We have a huge belief in rental, but we still want to test and learn quite a lot and do tweaks and changes,” Daniel Claesson, H&M’s head of business development, said in a presentation at the Stockholm store.

    Although Credit Suisse analyst Simon Irwin doubted the plan, saying: “I’d be surprised if you can really make it work as a business model. I can’t see that the kind of labour cost involved in a rental model at those price points really makes sense.”

    The clothing industry and what is being coined as “fast fashion” has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years. According to the United Nations it is responsible for as much as 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions and consumes more energy than aviation and shipping combined.

    By 2040, H&M intends to reach the point that its greenhouse gas emissions go negative, meaning that it would offset more than it produces.

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    When the retailer announced this new rental system last Friday morning, its shares initially fell as much as 0.4%.

    Despite not knowing when this sort of rental model could reach Northern Ireland stores, sustainable fashion trends have still been increasing across the country. For example, Belfast Fashion Week director Cathy Martin this year hosted a Resale Rail Sale event in St. Anne’s Cathedral to increase awareness of fashion eco-damage.

    Source: Bloomberg

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    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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