In an effort to combat the environmental issues associated with the fashion industry, H&M, the Swedish company known for its fast fashion, is now trying out a new rental service. With the increasing popularity in both renting clothes and taking on a more environmentally-friendly lifestyle, the new service has gained plenty of buzz and seems to cater to a niche market in today’s society.
However, the rental service is still in a trial run for now, operating only in their primary store in Stockholm, Sweden. There, customers who are part of the brand’s loyalty program can rent items from a selection of 50 pieces of clothing for the price of $37 a week. This testing period will resume for about three weeks along with other new projects the store is introducing including a coffee shop, services for clothing repair, and a beauty counter.
The introduction of the new rental service comes in response to many of the growing concerns about the environmental impact the fashion industry, and specifically the fast-fashion industry has. According to the United Nations, the fashion industry is responsible for eight to ten percent of carbon emissions in the atmosphere and the second industry that consumes the most water. It also leads consumers to buy several different pieces of clothing that they only keep for a limited amount of time while that trend is still in style. Because of this, the UN has made several efforts to encourage fashion companies and consumers to be more aware of how their behaviors affect the environment.
H&M’s rental service provides a solution to help alleviate some of the environmental problems in the fashion industry. When consumers rent instead of buy, they are no longer buying and keeping as many products so less need to be produced and they are no longer wasting as many products. Instead, the consumer rents the item they want and uses it as they please, then they return it to the store so that another consumer can use it next. Without this service, the consumer would simply buy it and throw it away when they no longer wanted it and the next consumer would do the same, increasing the amount of waste, shipping, and production required for a transaction.
Though the exact results of the new rental program will not be evident until the test run has been completed and studied, H&M is making a significant effort to make a change in the fashion industry to benefit the environment. During such a critical period, this is a noteworthy statement that could lead others to follow suit and explore better ways to operate their business in an environmentally-friendly way.