Ethical kids clothing company Frugi is the latest high street name to tap into consumer demand for rent rather than buy clothes.
The upmarket Cornish brand has joined forces with new children’s clothing rental service thelittleloop – one of a growing number of firms serving growing consumer appetite for more sustainable wardrobe choices.
The fashion industry is under growing pressure to change its business model, with Primark and Asos recently announcing plans to overhaul their supply chains to make them greener. The initiatives reflect growing concern about the environmental harm it causes with an estimated 300,000 tonnes of clothing waste going to UK landfill every year.
Thelittleloop is based on the idea that keeping kids’ clothing in circulation is the best way to reduce its environmental footprint. Starting at £18 a month, subscribers use credits to borrow clothes that can be returned when they have been outgrown.
Charlotte Morley, a former executive at retail website notonthehighstreet, who started the business while on maternity leave last year, said thelittleloop was about more than assuaging the “guilt of fast fashion” and aimed to support brands “going above and beyond” to make ethical and durable children’s clothing.
“Their [Frugi] clothes are such incredible quality that they work perfectly for rental,” said Morley. “We hope we can help even more people than before access these ethically produced garments for their children instead of resorting to the high street.”
Morley described fashion retail as a “broken system” that encourages people to “keep buying cheap and new, spewing clothing out in ever greater quantities”. She said she wanted to buy ethical clothing for her children “but couldn’t justify the cost” with selling clothes on afterwards a time-consuming hassle.
The fashion brands involved in thelittleloop, which also include Kite and Polarn O. Pyret, still own the clothes and receive a share of the rental revenue. They also share the responsibility for the lifespan of the garments.
Although Frugi, which is famous for its colourful prints and appliqué designs, is more expensive than many other high street brands, its chief executive Sarah Clark said the high-quality fabric used means the clothes last longer.
“Using organic cotton, which is more durable, means our clothes are made to last, and thelittleloop is helping us to further extend the lifespan of these clothes,” she said.
“We believe if you are buying something for £3 in a supermarket it has a different level of durability.”
Renting clothes is billed as a sustainable and frugal alternative to fast fashion for women in particular. It has been popularised by firms such as Rent the Runway and public figures such as Carrie Johnson, who rented her wedding dress and her outfits for the G7 conference.
The growing sector, which according to GlobalData is going to be worth £2.3bn by 2029, has been touted as a possible solution to fashion’s environmental crisis. A report by the World Economic Forum this year suggested the industry generates 5% of global emissions.