Hirestreet CEO calls for partnerships to shift excess fashion stock

The CEO and founder of UK-based fashion rental platform Hirestreet is urging the fashion industry to address the potential stock waste crisis that awaits the wider sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

With surplus spring/summer stock building while fashion stores remain temporarily closed, Isabella West is calling upon retailers to consider partnering with fashion rental platforms such as her business to distribute seasonal items.

Listing stock for hire could save retailers from having to resort to extreme discounting and product destruction, she argued.

“Fashion businesses aren’t going to survive this pandemic alone, as an industry we need to work together up and down the supply chain, embracing different models and supporting each other where we can,” she noted.

“We know many retailers will feel the pressure of piling mountains of unsold stock. In a time where consumers are increasingly concerned with their environmental footprint, as well as feeling the financial pressures of a recessionary market, working with a rental platform can not only provide a stock solution for retailers, but it can also offer a sustainable channel to reach a new generation of customers.”

West added that extending the lifetime of a garment in a way that allows multiple customers to use it over future seasons can, in some circumstances, generate more revenue for brands than if it were sold once.

She said she expects clothing rental to continue to grow in the UK, adding: “We urge brands to consider working alongside us on that journey.”

Newcastle-based Hirestreet was on a growth trajectory prior to the pandemic, having acquired Manchester-based online fashion rental service rival Hire That Look for an undisclosed sum, last year.

Rental and hire services in retail have grown in popularity over the last 18 months, with large chains such as H&M and Gap, and online players including Farfetch announcing various partnerships to gain traction in this space. Many cite the potential environmental benefits of reselling and reusing clothing in an environment where fast ‘throwaway’ fashion has dominated the market in recent years.

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