Dress rentals – fashionable and good for the environment

Textile waste is a global problem. The fashion industry is responsible for more than 40 million tonnes of it a year.

In New Zealand, 180,000 tonnes of textile waste went to landfill in 2021.

It's clear we’re consuming more than we should.

Amanda Butterworth from Fashion Revolution New Zealand says research shows one in three young women consider a garment to be old after only one wear.

“I think the key word is reduce,” she says. “Buy less, buy well, wear it more, wear it for longer”.

This is where clothing rental can help. Customers can rent a garment for a fixed amount of time, wear the item once, then return it to the rental company.

It’s a popular and affordable option. Customers can rent designer outfits for a fraction of the retail price.

“Clothing rental is increasing the number of wears and extending the life of a garment,” Amanda says.

Most of New Zealand’s rental companies are online, but there are options if people are unsure of sizing.

“You can pay a fee for a “try-on” option,” Amanda says.

Those garments will come with a little tag you can remove if it's the right size and you decide to wear it out. If the tag isn’t removed, you don’t get charged.

But what if your garment arrives damaged?

“Most clothing rental companies will be really good to refund you if something arrives faulty or dirty,” says Amanda.

“They will be quite good about refunding if they've sent the wrong size and made a mistake.”

Rental companies may also offer a credit.

Each rental company has its own rental agreement, so it pays to read it before you rent. If you damage the garment, you might have to pay to replace it and that cost is determined by the company.

Some places offer a damage waiver that covers things like broken zips, ripped seams, or in some cases stains that can't be removed. If you return an item late, you could be charged late fees.

Clothing rentals isn't the ultimate sustainability fix, but Amanda says it's one way we can help.


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