Hands up anyone who's lusted over Cher Horowitz' high-tech (for the Noughties, anyway) wardrobe in the opening scenes of Clueless? We're guilty. The ability to rummage (read: scroll) through someone else's Cher Horowitz-standard wardrobe and have it arrive at your door almost instantaneously? Game-changing.
What if I told you that a similar wardrobe device was not only possible, but planet-positive and wallet-friendly? No, it's not a fashion fairy tale. Enter the world of fashion rentals and you can swipe your way to a new holiday wardrobe, borrowing the dresses of your dreams with a few choice clicks.
ByRotation founder, Eshita Kabra-Davies, and a Stine Goya dress available from the rental service.
I'll be honest: my fast-fashion sin list was lengthy - and I'm not just talking about the PVC and jewel-coloured peplum trend that would make those in Gen Z cringe. I bought new outfits for every event possible. Holiday on the horizon? A slew of Crocs-pink and holographic parcels would arrive at my desk. "Out out" plans with the girls? Seven variations of polyester bodysuits and skinny jeans would be plonked in front of me. Wedding invite? Yep, a wear-once dress would be on its way.
And, like many millennials who have reflected on their detrimental shopping habits over the past few years, I knew this wasn't sustainable - not for myself, but more importantly, not for the planet. It's no secret that the fashion industry is one of the worst polluters out there, but the figures behind our throwaway culture are still shocking. Globally, only an estimated one per cent of cast-off clothing is recycled into new garments annually - a horrifically low figure when you consider that up to 11.3 million tonnes of textile waste is binned in the US alone in the same timeframe. That's where renting works best, offering an alternative to purchasing outfits that were destined to see out their lives in landfills.
My first step towards planning a waste-free holiday wardrobe entailed signing up to By Rotation. The UK-based service was the first to launch a fashion-rental app, helping to fulfil countless Horowitz-inspired dreams. Started as a side hustle in 2019 by finance brain-turned-founder Eshita Kabra-Davies, By Rotation is a peer-to-peer business that allows users to rent designer drip from a legion of stylish trailblazers. Lenders simply set up a profile, snap photos of their clothes, set the price and rental timelines, and then share them with other rotators. The result? Rotators get access to a revolving door of must-borrow items: Moon Boots for your upcoming Megève ski trip; Rixo sequinned dresses for main-character Christmas Day outfit; Sleeper sets for long-haul flights to winter sun; and sold-out Christopher Esber gowns for evening soirées.
By Rotation's ski edit includes LOEWE fleeces and Moon Boots.
The app introduced me to a conscious, fashion-forward community of people putting their wardrobes on the web so that slaves to the catwalk (like myself) can rent the latest must-have look - and I'm a convert. I borrow, I buy - thanks to a new resale feature - and I rent out my designer dresses to other fashion fans. I've worn Missoni trousers in Mykonos; Rat & Boa dresses in Capri and Jacquemus two-pieces in the Maldives. Whenever a new holiday or event gets added to my calendar, I open the app, scroll through By Rotation's virtual racks and my saved style crushes to select an outfit. Likewise, when I buy a new outfit, I photograph it and stick it on the app to share with fellow rotators. I'm saving the planet, saving money and earning a second income from my high-end splurges.
Anna October and Baobab dresses, both available at By Rotation.
Renting is already pretty normal across the pond - our New York friends have been gushing about Rent The Runway for a while - but the UK is now catching up. That wedding you went to in the summer? We bet most of the guests' dresses and heels were a rent-an-outfit from some of the industry's hottest tickets, namely Rotaro, HURR and, in the case of that Gucci GG Marmont Mini, bag-rental company Cocoon. Likewise, when you arrive on the slopes this winter, expect everyone to have levelled up their mountain gear. Fusalp salopettes, Free People ski jackets and Chloé goggles are just some of the snow sports gear getting attention in By Rotation's recent ski edit, with prices starting from just £15 for a week's rent.
As New Year approaches, your vision boards get built and a list of resolutions added to your phone notes, make sure signing up to a rental company is on there. A revolving rail of designer garms at high-street prices all available at the touch of your fingertips? Cher Horowitz walked so By Rotation could run.
Begging to be borrowed: three rental companies for holiday wardrobes
The OG app. Eshita Kabra-Davies launched the peer-to-peer rental platform in 2019 after a trip to Rajasthan, in her motherland, India, brought to her attention the damaging effects of textile waste on the planet. Now, the brand is a fashion-world favourite, with over 200,000 UK users and an active community of lenders ready to lend inspiration and fresh finery to sustainability-minded renters. We're snapping up a Perfect Moment ski jacket, this season's must-have Moon Boot, a wavy OOSC ski suit and some chic Chloé ski goggles for our next slopeside adventure. And maybe this sequinned Rixo dress for winter soirées.
Unlike By Rotation's peer-to-peer platform, cult label rental service Rotaro holds a central bank of clothes you can rent. That means no community lending (and, therefore, no dreamy lenders' inspo if you're stuck for ideas), but more availability, as the brand tends to stock dresses in multiple sizes. Sign up for Nafsika Skourti dresses from £105, and access to that Rejina Pyo Nappa green Simone shoulder bag of your dreams.
Want to rent-a-shoe before your city break? Head to HURR for aquamarine By Far mules, geometric-print Prada sandals and a pair of Ganni cowboy boots. The platform is committed to sustainability across the board, too, with regular charitable initiatives organised to support its partner organisation, Malaika, helping to improve the future of girls in the DRC by funding education, clean-water access and health programmes.