More and more attention is being paid to the harmful impacts of textile manufacture. Some suggest that rental subscription models could do the trick and reduce the scope of the problem. It's not really something I'm familiar with so could you tell me how this works? I mean, if something goes out of fashion, no one will want to rent it. So in order to get rid of the stockpiles of unwanted clothes, you'd need to landfill or incinerate it anyway, wouldn't you (or ship it to developing countries)? What's so green about it? In addition, YCloset, a Chinese rental service, recently shut down so it may not be a lucrative business to boot (although, as I understand it, its American counterpart Rent the Runway is still doing well). It seems to me that as long as this concept of fashion exists, it wouldn't make much of a difference, would it? But then again, fashion is said to go in circles – but those circles last decades, you can't store anything for that long.

  • Important to distinguish the more traditional "rent a wedding dress" and "rent bowling shoes" type operations that are generally profitable as well as environmentally sustainable because they effectively share little-used clothing; compared to the newer "keep fast fashion churning" operations that seem to be mostly about greenwashing consumption. They add delivery and pickup costs plus cleaning every time a garment is worn to the existing cost of fast fashion items. I suspect the key question is the number of times an item is worn before being disposed of compared to the cost of making it.
    – Móż
    Aug 24, 2021 at 3:26

1 Answer 1


A recent article suggests that garment rental isn't all that sustainable. Not surprisingly, the most sustainable garment is the one that is not produced at all or, on the flip side, the garment that is used for an extended amount of time, reducing the need for a new replacement garment.

When renting clothing, customers don't want clothing that looks used or worn out, so the life cycles of rented clothing will be much shorter than that of (regularly used) owned clothing. In addition, rented garments will have an additional impact through delivery and / or pick-up.

For high end clothing that people would only wear once or twice anyway (e.g. for weddings), a rental solution might nevertheless be the more sustainable option, as the number of use cycles per garment might acutally increase. But as those types of garments only make up a tiny fraction of the overall clothing and textile consumption, the resulting impact will probably be very low.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.