As the fashion industry strives to meet greater demand for sustainable practices, the second largest fashion retailer in the world is dipping a toe in the clothing rental market.
At a flagship store in Stockholm, H&M — one of the fast fashion retailers that’s been criticized for environmental impact and waste— is offering customers who are part of its loyalty program a collection of 50 items available for rent.
During a three-month trial period, H&M customers can rent up to three pieces per week for the equivalent of $37 per item; it’s mostly pricier pieces like skirts, party dresses and bridal gowns, per Quartzy. That flagship store also is testing clothing repair services.
After Rent the Runway popularized the concept, H&M is the latest retailer to join the clothing rental market. Banana Republic, Urban Outfitters, American Eagle, Express, New York & Co. and Ann Taylor have all jumped into the $1 billion market this year, per Quartzy.
The clothing rental market is growing at a faster rate than the apparel market in general, per Quartzy, so H&M’s move might keep some shoppers from turning to another company for the service. H&M’s operating margin has declined for the past several years, and analysts have said shopper consumption rates are plateauing.
Per Fortune, retailers have taken action as consumers have come to expect companies to find more eco-friendly ways of sourcing and manufacturing products. Nike and French luxury brand Kering are among those that joined the G7 sustainability pact.
The United Nations has said the clothing industry generates about 10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 20 percent of wastewater globally. And as the fast fashion industry produces more clothing and consumers wear items less often, textiles are are polluting the world’s oceans or lingering in landfills for centuries.
In its announcement, H&M says it aims “to lead the change towards a circular fashion industry.”
“We have a huge belief in rental, but we still want to test and learn quite a lot and do tweaks and changes,” said Daniel Claesson, head of business development for H&M, per Bloomberg.
Additionally, H&M brand COS has partnered with Chinese subscription rental platform YCloset for clothing rental, reports Reuters. YCloset has 15 million registered users.
H&M has said it plans to attain negative greenhouse gas emissions by 2040, per Bloomberg.