What do you do when you need an outfit for a special occasion? It may be an event such as a graduation party, or a wedding, or another social event such as a birthday party, or maybe something as posh as heading off to Ascot’s? Chances are that if you haven’t already got an outfit for these sort of occasions, you may perceive the cost of obtaining a one-off outfit, one that you are unlikely to use frequently, as too expensive. You would probably head down to a clothing rental shop, and pick something that you could rent just for the event itself, and then return it when you have no further use for the garment. Depending on what you are renting, and the duration you require it for, you may find that you end up paying perhaps a tenth of the cost of what it would be if you were to purchase a completely new outfit.
Now if you do the maths you may question then – would it be worth it then, if you were to buy an item that you might get ten wears out of? An item that you might use on a number of occasions, such that after the tenth occasion you would have broken even?
The economics of cost that one has to factor in is that you are not actually paying a tenth of the cost when you rent a garment instead of buy one; you are paying for the cost of the maintenance of the garment itself. Because after you have rented some formal wear, the company has to clean the outfit using special chemicals and procedures. Conversely, if you were picking an outfit to rent, you would expect that the outfit would be new, clean, and not bearing the sweaty hallmarks and smells of the hen night when it was last out?
There are some market players who are considering making the move towards targeting people to rent daily office wear. The reason they give is that it is more environmentally friendly to provide one garment for many people (cleaning it between individuals, of course) then for many people to buy one of the same outfit each and then wear it sparingly.
The classical composer Joseph Haydn worked in the courts of Esterhazy in his adult life, but for much of his childhood he was always teased and bullied for being scruffy. (You can read more about Haydn in the Piano Teacher Muswell Hill website, and learn other trivia – including why his tomb contains two skulls.) It is unlikely that someone like him would have benefitted from renting his workplace outfits, as he would probably wear one until it was threadbare, but maybe in future times will change? Perhaps later generations will find it amazing we even owned our own clothes, and the rental market for clothing might take off!