Retail Watch: What does Harrods’ rental marketplace tell us about changing consumer priorities?

July 13, 2021
2 min read

Harrods has teamed up with rental platform My Wardrobe HQ for a new rental service. As part of the launch, a pop-up will be revealed at Harrods’ flagship in Knightsbridge. Customers are able to rent 1,000 items by a wide range of designers from the store, through the My Wardrobe HQ platform for up to fourteen days. Prices start from £23 and £400, from everyday brands to luxury designers.

The “Harrods Rental Edit” can be now rented from the My Wardrobe HQ website

Source: My Wardrobe HQ

Promoting a more circular fashion industry

This new rental service is the department store’s latest sustainability drive by promoting a more circular fashion industry. As part of this strategy, Harrods has been helping customers lengthen the lifespan of luxury clothing, including launching a deal with luxury repair service The Restory in 2020. The deal also means that Harrods is the second luxury department store to join the rental market with Selfridges entering the space via Hurr Collective last year.

Clothing rental platform HURR already has a physical store at Selfridges Oxford Street

Source: Selfridges

Consumer priorities shift from buying to renting

Fashion is a key category for most department store retailers, with eight in ten of those who shopped at a department store buying clothing, footwear and accessories (see the upcoming Report on Department Stores, UK 2021). However, fashion has been one of the hardest hit of all retail sectors by COVID-19 as people cut back on non-essential spending. Indeed, data from Mintel’s latest COVID-19 tracker from July 2021 reveals that over a third of consumers are still spending less on clothing and accessories. Instead shoppers are revisiting their wardrobes and wearing older garments or repairing damaged items. 

As for renting fashion items, Mintel’s upcoming report on Fashion and Sustainability, UK 2021 found that more people have rented fashion items than the year before. The pandemic has helped accelerate the demand for a more circular fashion economy with initiatives such as rental services, reselling and recycling fashion items appealing to eco-conscious shoppers. 

Fashion is moving towards an “Own less, wear more” mentality

Source: My Wardrobe HQ

The new rental service from Harrods also focuses on providing curated edits of clothing for occasions – something that has been absent during the pandemic – and will excite shoppers who are looking forward to celebrating important occasions with family and friends once lockdown restrictions ease later in the month.

Emily Viberg
Emily Viberg

Emily Viberg is a Retail Analyst at Mintel. She researches and writes reports on seasonal shopping.

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