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Banana Republic Is the Latest Traditional Retailer to Dabble in Clothing Rental

As consumers grow more selective of the items they own, they turn to rental subscription services for their clothing—and Banana Republic is the latest retailer to tap into that market.

On Friday, the retailer announced the launch of Style Passport, a service that gives users unlimited access to Banana Republic’s women’s—and soon men’s—apparel. For a flat fee of $85 per month, users can choose three garments from the brand, which are then sent via free priority shipping. Customers will be able to choose from around 100 different styles a month.

Style Passport includes unlimited exchanges and returns, as well as complimentary laundering services. If a Style Passport holder decided to keep an item, they can purchase it at retail price.

“We’re constantly evolving with our customer, meeting her where she is shopping,” Mark Breitbard, Banana Republic CEO and president,  said in a statement. “Style Passport will drive incremental revenue and help us connect with younger shoppers who appreciate great style and want an affordable, sustainable way to try new fashion.”

To develop Style Passport, Banana Republic partnered with rental technology platform CaaStle, which will handle the logistics of the service. It will be available to shoppers in the U.S. at the end of September, with a men’s rental service to launch shortly thereafter.

Campaign for Style Passport
Campaign for Style Passport Courtesy

Banana Republic is just one of many retailers beginning to offer rental services. This summer, Urban Outfitters launched Nuuly, a subscription service that lets shoppers select items from Urban Outfitter brands, vintage items and third-party labels through a custom-built digital platform. Priced at $88 per month, users send back their box in exchange for a new one the following month.

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Retailers and brands such as Express, New York & Co., Ann Taylor, Rebecca Taylor and Vince have also launched subscription services of their own. Users reap the benefits of wearing new styles without cluttering their closets, and brands get a boost in engagement that’s good for both their bottom lines and the environment.

While rental comprises only 0.3 percent of all clothing spend, it’s growing by more than 20 percent annually, with a projected value of more than $2.5 billion by 2023, according to market research firm GlobalData. And the retailer’s benefits go far beyond the present. Breitbard sees Style Passport as an opportunity for the brand to gather intelligence that could guide future designs.

“With this new service, we’ll gather valuable insights from a highly interactive customer base that can be used to design future product and experiences,” he said.

Banana Republic will also offer Buy Online, Pick Up in Store beginning in the Fall ’19.