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Apparel Renters Love Convenience, Cost Savings but One Hangup Holds Others Back

From ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft to vacation rentals from Airbnb, the sharing economy has ingrained itself in many consumers’ daily lives.

But does it have the capacity to truly disrupt the fashion industry?

According to a study released Wednesday by retail tech firm CGS, the category is ripe for expansion, even if it hasn’t hit its stride just yet.

The Future of Fashion and Retail Consumer Survey polled 17,000 shoppers of all ages. Only 3 percent of respondents had used clothing rental services previously, and just 5 percent had even considered taking the plunge.

Given that the business model is so new, CGS analysts opined, it’s not surprising that adoption rates are still low. The largest group of respondents (39 percent) who hadn’t tried or considered rental services in the past said it was ignorance of their existence or a lack of understanding that kept them away. But over a third (35 percent) said they didn’t like the idea of donning used clothes or footwear, as a general rule.

Still, research shows substantial opportunities for rental services—especially those that offer convenience and cost savings.

Of the more than 1,000 respondents who had rented or considered renting in the past, more than one-third (35 percent) cited the need for formal event-wear as their primary driver, while 31 percent said they were interested in trying new brands. More than a quarter (27 percent) of respondents said their interest in renting stemmed from a desire to save money on clothing.

Subscription and rental adopters are also willing to shell out for their garments. The vast majority (72 percent) said they were willing to pay $50 or more to rent three items, while 22 percent of respondents said they were willing to spend at least $100 per month.

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Data suggests that consumers who are open to or enthusiastic about renting are less touchy about the prospect of wearing secondhand garments than those who haven’t considered using a service. Nearly half (45 percent) of rental adopters said they would consider buying a garment they’d previously rented, and 13 percent said they’d done so in the past.

Consumers who buy secondhand clothing do so for a number of reasons, but most predominantly (at 41 percent), they do so to save money. A small contingent (13 percent) purchased pre-owned because they believe shopping pre-worn wares reduces environmental impact. Among Gen Z respondents, a larger contingent (28 percent) cited sustainability as their driver in shopping secondhand.

Shoppers are nearly split on whether they should pay more for sustainable options, with 53 percent indicating that they would, and 47 percent saying they would not. Gen Z respondents were disproportionately willing to spend more, with 64 percent saying they would devote more of their wallet share to eco-friendly brands and retailers.