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Harrods Enters Rentals With Service Backed by Boris Johnson’s Wife

The service that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s new bride Carrie Symonds used to borrow her Christos Costarellos-designed gown for their May wedding is now powering luxury rentals for Harrods.

The upscale department store now offers a curated selection of premium garments on the website of My Wardrobe HQ (MWHQ), which bills itself as the U.K.’s original fashion rental marketplace. Harrods says the new venture is part of its “sustainability initiatives that support best practice and increase product circularity across the luxury industry.”

Consumers, Harrods wrote on its website, now have the opportunity to “rent an edit” of the retailer’s designers through the new partnership. “Whether you’re experimenting with something new or styling a whole season of occasions, rent on repeat with Harrods,” it added.

To sweeten the deal, Harrods is also offering a try-before-you-buy option at the MWHQ popup on the fourth floor of its Knightsbridge store. Fashionistas can rent on a per-day fee for a minimum of four days, with other options of seven, 10 and 14 days, and purchase at a 70 percent discount off the recommended retail price.

The launch edit includes fashion from in-demand design labels such as Alessandra Rich, Jenny Packham, Needle and Thread, Giambattista Valli, Victoria Beckham and Monique Lhuillier.

“As we look towards the future, it is clear that the most important standards we will be held to will be demonstrating how we as a business operate responsibly and sustainably, and with the lowest impact on the environment,” said Michael Ward, Harrods’ managing director. “We are on the path towards our ambitious plans to operate as a leading sustainable luxury business. We have made huge progress but will continue to push ourselves every day to improve and think big in our sustainability journey.”

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It added that it maintains the “highest standards with the products available at Harrods, embedding sustainable supply-chain management with our own-brand products, as well as encourage and support best practice with our brand partners.”

Fellow luxury department store retailer Selfridges has also gotten into the rental game via a partnership with Hurr, offering contemporary brands and luxury designers.

Circularity has become de rigueur in the post-Covid business model. A study from McKinsey & Co. indicates that consumers increasingly expect and even demand better environmental behavioral impact from fashion, making circular models table stakes versus nice-to-haves.

Investors in fashion are also taking notice of the circular trend. British luxury handbag subscription platform Cocoon landed Kering and Depop founder Simon Beckerman as investors, citing a Boston Consulting Group study that said circular fashion represents a $2 trillion industry sector. Grégory Boutté, chief client and digital officer for the Gucci owner, described Cocoon’s subscription model as an “interesting trend in fashion” that “resonates particularly well with Kering’s circularity ambition.”