Outdoor lifestyle brand Eddie Bauer is trying its hand at rentals. On Wednesday, the company launched a program enabling shoppers to rent a multitude of men’s and women’s apparel and footwear products, ranging from hiking boots to anoraks, shorts, pants, button downs and sandals, along with essential gear like backpacks, camp chairs, tents and headlamps.
The service, which is powered by rental service Arrive Outdoors, can be accessed through the Eddie Bauer e-commerce site. In order to make a reservation, consumers must submit a reservation to secure their goods, which are priced at daily rates as low as $1. The shipments can be delivered to any location in the U.S., including homes, hotels and FedEx locations, offering backpackers and on-the-go travelers more than 10,000 potential pick-up points.
When shoppers have completed their sojourns, they need only affix a pre-paid return label to the original shipment box and drop it off at any FedEx location. The items are then professionally cleaned and readied for new renters, the brand said.
“It’s Eddie Bauer’s goal to make sure the outdoors are more inclusive and accessible to all communities, so for us, there was no better time to get into the rental space,” Kristen Elliott, the company’s vice president of marketing, told Sourcing Journal. “In addition to ensuring more people can have the outdoor experiences they want to have, Eddie Bauer Gear Rental allows us to expand our reach and establish a path towards a more circular commerce model.”
Eddie Bauer Gear Rental also encourages shoppers who live in urban centers to engage with the outdoors for a short trip or weekend getaway, she added. As many city-dwellers lack the space to store large items like tents and chairs—and might not want to invest in items they won’t use often—the program offers an easy, cost-conscious alternative. A Carbon River 6 Tent, which retails for $199, is available to rent for just $10 per day, while men’s Mountain Ops hiking boots will run renters just $9.50 per day, compared with an MSRP of $190.
“Adventure should be self-prescribed. It looks different to everyone, and living your adventure can take many forms,” Damien Huang, Eddie Bauer’s CEO, added. “Through our first rental program, we hope to reach even more people, offering them the gear, apparel, and resources they need to get outside—whether it’s a hike in their local state park or a backpacking trip they’ve been planning all year.”
Huang noted that the program also allows consumers the unique opportunity to try items before they commit to a large purchase, and gives them the ability to try out a variety of new outdoor activities. Technical rainwear, insulated parkas, ski jackets, sleeping bags and day packs are just some of the high-performance items shoppers might hope to test out prior to buying.
While rentals have become an increasingly viable business model in the contemporary fashion space, with Rent the Runway giving way to the rise of brand-owned programs from labels and retailers like Levi’s, H&M’s Cos, Eloquii, Harrods, Ganni, Ann Taylor and more, outdoor retailers have been slower to offer shoppers the opportunity to borrow rather than buy.
Outdoor co-op REI offers its own regional rental programs for a multitude of adventure-ready goods that vary by location, though those rentals are facilitated in-store. In 2019, Patagonia piloted a program with outdoor rental platform AwayCo that allowed skiers to lease outerwear from the company’s Denver store.
But as shoppers take to the streets and the trails after a long year of pandemic-prompted sheltering in place, fashion players and tech solutions providers believe rentals offer a valuable entry point into their lives.
U.K. rental site Hurr expanded its reach, debuting Hurr Enterprise earlier this spring. The program allows brands and retailers to build out rental platforms on their existing e-commerce sites, taking care of the online infrastructure and back-end logistics. The program powers Selfridges’ rental program, which launched in May, allowing the department store’s shoppers to rent an array of clothing and accessories from premium and luxury labels.
CaaStle, named for its goal of providing “Clothing as a Service,” has aided Ralph Lauren in launching The Lauren Look and Rebecca Minkoff in integrating a new rental feature into its e-commerce site. Shoppers can now spring for handbags, clothing and other wares with the click of the “Borrow” button, checking out the same way they would if they were buying the items.
In addition to allowing shoppers to rent products from its platform outright, Arrive Outdoor touts its ability provide “full service, white-label” services for brands like Eddie Bauer that feel compelled to capitalize on consumer loyalty and own their rental experience. While Eddie Bauer currently offers a limited array of rentals for activities like camping and hiking, it said it has plans to add to the offering in the coming months.
“As rental becomes increasingly popular across industries, Eddie Bauer is excited to be a part of circular commerce and work towards their goals of being a more sustainable brand,” it said. “Through Arrive Outdoors, Eddie Bauer is able to extend the lifecycle of products and support a sustainable model.”