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Clothing Subscription: A Stylist’s Comparison

January 27, 2020

More and more clothing companies are creating a clothing subscription plan as a way to appeal to their customers who are focused on sustainability. The clothing industry realized that establishing a clothing subscription or rental program was the easiest way to become less wasteful, and more sustainable, without having to make major changes in how their materials are sourced, and their product is created.

In addition to environmental reasons, think about all of the events that we attend, where we only wear something once. Then it lives in our closet, until we get rid of it. I find that when I buy an outfit for an event, and I have my picture taken wearing that outfit a lot, I don’t want to wear it again. Using a clothing subscription is the perfect solution for those “one wear wonders”.

Rent the Runway Unlimited

What it’s good for: Trying Designer Brands

Rent the Runway Unlimited is one of Rent the Runway’s clothing subscription plans. Rent the Runway’s selection includes top designer brands, and you can rent clothes, outerwear, accessories, and bags. Their sizes range from 0-12 online, but they carry up to a size 22 in their stores. Right now their stores are in NYC, Chicago, San Fransisco, Santa Monica, and Washington DC.

With the Unlimited plan, you can rent up to 4 pieces at a time, and swap out any of your pieces whenever you’d like. If you want to try one piece in two different sizes, they would count for 2 of your 4 pieces. Unlike in their 4 or 8 day rental plans, which send you a free back up size with your order.

The process of ordering, receiving, and returning your items is all very easy. They send everything in a zip up garment bag. When you’re ready to return your pieces, you just swap out the already created UPS prepaid shipping label, and drop it off at a UPS location. So easy. Within a day, you can put in your order for new pieces to fill up your 4 spots.

It costs $159/month. You can also add additional items for an added fee.

My honest opinion about RTR Unlimited

Honestly, I didn’t love it. I tried it for a few months. My struggle was finding pieces that I liked once I had them on my body. I read every review and chose my sizes based on my knowledge and the reviews, and I still felt like I struggled with finding pieces that fit in a way that I felt confident.

There were also a number of times when I needed a larger size, I contacted customer service, and that size was unavailable. Their selection felt limited.

Another moment of truth, I also didn’t love the quality of the pieces I received. In one of my orders, I received a broken earring. In another order, As soon as I took the blazer out of plastic garment bag, a button popped off. Customer service was accommodating by opening up an additional spot in my order for free. Unfortunately, they couldn’t send a replacement blazer, because the size was unavailable.

I am not new to shopping secondhand or vintage, and I am aware that pieces fall apart with wear. However, I think my expectations were higher with Rent the Runway, considering the brands, the size of the company, and the reputation.

What I would recommend about Rent the Runway Unlimited

It’s fun to try designer brands that you may not be able to purchase aside from renting. I would also suggest using RTR Unlimited to try out a designer bag or a coat! You don’t just have to use those 4 spots for clothes.

Rent the Runway: 4 or 8 day Rental

What it’s good for: Getting Fancy for Special Events

I’ve used the 4 day rental through Rent the Runway several times for events, where I wanted something unique without having to invest in an expensive outfit. I love this option for special events. It’s cost effective, considering you can rent a designer dress for as low as $23! If you need a gown for a black tie wedding, you will likely pay between $60-120, but that’s significantly less than you would probably spend purchasing one!

Like I mentioned earlier in the Unlimited subscription, in the 4 or 8 day rental for Rent the Runway, they will send you a free backup size of whatever you choose. I love that. The only downside to renting clothes is that you can’t get them tailored. So, if you’re a shorty like myself, renting pants, jumpsuits, maxi dresses, and gowns can be quite problematic.

Pro Tip: Read the reviews and look at the pictures posted by customers who tried the pieces that you are considering. Most of the time, customers will include their sizes, measurements, etc., which is helpful! So when you’re reading, look for women who have a similar body to yours, and see what they said. The reviews could save you money, frustration, and disappointment!

Nuuly

What it’s good for: Every Day Cool Clothes

Nuuly is a clothing subscription that includes brands such as Anthropologie, Free People, and Urban Outfitters. It’s $88/month, and you can rent 6 items at a time. The sizes that Nuuly carries range from 00-30! Their plus size selection is pretty great. They also carry Universal Standard! This is super exciting for people who are looking for a size inclusive, sustainable, brand that makes beautiful basics.

I’m a huge fan of Anthropologie, and a lot of the other brands Nuuly carries. I shop at Anthro somewhat regularly, so I do have some mixed feelings about subscribing to Nuuly. On the other hand, it would be much more cost effective to use Nuuly rather than shop full price. I mean, their monthly rental cost is excellent. And, I could always buy something that I’m renting, if I really need it in my life/closet.

Switch

What it’s good for: Designer and Vintage Jewels

Switch isn’t a clothing subscription, but I wanted to include it, because when I heard about it, I got excited. There are other jewelry subscriptions, but Switch includes designer and vintage jewelry. Designers include Chanel, David Yurman, Dior, YSL, and so many other luxury designers.

They have three rental plans:

Gold: $29/month for renting one item

Platinum: $49/month for renting two items at a time

Black: $69/month for renting up to three items

With each rental plan, you accumulate credit which can go towards the purchase of a piece that you’re renting, which is already discounted for members. A discount towards purchasing a piece that you are renting is pretty common for all of the subscriptions I mentioned, but I do appreciate the credit idea!

If you need me, I’ll be looking at vintage Chanel medallion necklaces and Hermes bangles. Thanks.

These different clothing subscription options allow you to have a sustainable approach to your closet without having to work too hard. If you’re interested in discovering other sustainable brands, let me know! I would be happy to send a list your way!

Are there any clothing subscriptions that I didn’t mention that you’re curious about? Comment below!

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