Responding to a generation of consumers oversaturated with ‘stuff’, shrewd brands are tapping into the global growing desire for sustainable business practices and an upheaval of throwaway culture – with ‘loop-closing’ retail concepts anchored in repair, recycling and recommerce.
Globally, 66% of millennials state they’re willing to pay extra for sustainable offerings from companies that are committed to positive social and environmental impact (Nielsen, 2016). Meanwhile, 94% of Gen Z in China now say it's essential for brands to be sustainable and environmentally conscious (RTG Consulting Group, 2016).
- Apple Revamps: Dutch ‘refurbishment retailer’ Leapp specialises in revamping discarded Apple products, giving consumers the same product quality – including a new, non-Apple warranty – and level of in-store service but at a substantially lower price point. Originally a pure play e-tailer, in 2015 it ventured into physical retail to establish a more trusting brand-consumer relationship than when working solely in e-commerce. All 24 stores across the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany echo Apple’s formulaic store design – white interiors, products showcased on wood and white PVC plinths – and customers can test products pre-purchase.
- Baby-Clothing Rental: Danish brand Vigga offers a “circular subscription” of clothing for kids aged 0-2. Users sign up during pregnancy to receive an initial ‘newborn’ wardrobe bag of unisex and organic cotton clothing, which is ready for collection in-store a week before the baby’s due date. When the baby has outgrown the first consignment, those items are exchanged for the next size up. Customers select the new size via the website, and Vigga handles the shipment of deliveries and returns. All items are dry cleaned in an environmentally friendly way for the next baby. The service costs 359 Danish krone ($52) per month, with a minimum subscription period of three months and a maximum of 27 months.
The concept responds to the huge scale of global garment wastage. More than 12 million tons of used clothes end up in landfills or incinerators every year in the US (Smart, 2016), while Britain is predicted to see 235 million items of clothing head to landfill in 2017 (Oxfam & Sainsbury’s, 2017). Extending clothing’s life by just three months can reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by up to 10% (Wrap, 2016).
- Sharing Economy Sees Significant Success: In late 2016, American fashion e-rental company Rent the Runway traded on its growing success by expanding into a shop-in-shop concept in US department store Neiman Marcus’ branches. Targeting sharing economy-loving millennials, the concession –which is staffed by both Rent the Runway and Neiman Marcus stylists – is conceived to reduce the average age of the Neiman Marcus customer (currently 51 years of age). Echoing that appetite in 2017, Swedish fashion label Filippa K launched a beta version of an online booking site to extend the success of its store-based rental concept. Its service allows customers to rent any items from its collection (excluding lingerie and beachwear) for 20% of their retail price. The initiative saw a 40% increase in rental ‘sessions’ from 2015-16.
Both concepts spotlight a growing consumer desire to rent rather than own clothes (Westfield, 2016): 20% of people in the UK are interested in renting from their favourite store – a figure that rises to over 33% in London.
Image Source: Filippa K