TZR Editors Tested Out 6 Fashion Rental Services & Here Are Their Thoughts
All the pros and cons.
If you’ve ever stood for 10 minutes just blankly staring into your closet while loudly proclaiming “I have nothing to wear,” then, well, same. Every time the seasons change, suddenly that cute backless dress I bought last year doesn’t look so cute anymore or that button-down shirt — a closet staple — just feels boring. Should you be in a similar situation as me, pause before you donate all your unwanted items or go on a frantic shopping spree. Perhaps all you only need to fix the situation is to introduce a few fresh items into your current mix. This is where clothing and accessories rental services like Rent The Runway (a tried-and-true favorite for most fashion gals) or Vivrelle, a designer handbag and jewelry destination, come in.
By paying a small membership fee to use these different online rental companies, you have access to their inventory of brands, so you can test-drive Bottega Veneta’s new shearling bag or rent a pair of $600 earrings you’d likely never purchase yourself. The new additions to your closet will not only liven up your trusted ensembles, but also give you the chance to test out different style trends without fully committing to them. (Most, if not all, fashion rental services offer monthly clothing or accessory swaps, which guarantees you’ll get to try on something new every time.) Best of all, this way of “shopping” provides a more eco-friendly alternative to consumerism, as it ensures you’re not randomly buying items you’ll only wear once.
For the lowdown on which fashion rental services you should try, scroll ahead to see which ones personally resonated with TZR’s editors. For New York Fashion Week, several members of the team rented clothing and accessories from companies like Beekman New York to Nuuly to wear to runway shows and beyond. They give their candid reviews of the rental services, ahead. After perusing through this list, don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling more inspired to change up how you dress, too.
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Beekman New York
How It Works
Beekman New York offers a fine jewelry rental service of notable designs and brands (think Cartier, Van Cleef, David Webb, Bulgari) from 1870 to present. At a daily rate per item at a minimum of three days, you can select from about 1,000 pieces from necklaces to brooches. If you wish to have more flexibility with the rental period, there is the option to sign up for a membership for $89 per month at a three month minimum or $890 a year. The membership offers the ability to borrow with 45 days advance notice, personalized consultation and styling for special events, option to have a fitting on- and off-site prior to borrowing, exclusive pieces only for members, no minimum days required, special pricing for extended loans, and access to preview new jewelry additions to the collection.
Once you make your selections, the concierge service coordinates shipping the items to you which arrives carefully packaged in clear, plastic, cushioned cases or velvet envelopes to protect the pieces from any scratching or damages via shipment. Once you are finished with the jewelry, you simply return them in said packaging with the prepaid label provided.
“The website is straightforward and user-friendly, with great images of the jewelry on and off model with close-up, detail shots. The jewelry is categorized on the site by type (i.e. rings, necklaces) and labelled by designer name, stones and material, and sizing with descriptions of the brand, stone, cut, and any other detail that make the piece special.
I selected a vintage 18K yellow gold Cartier gentiane collar necklace for its versatility as I wasn't sure what I would be wearing during fashion week yet. I knew that it would work with most pieces in my closet as I tend to wear either crew or U-neck clothing, and most of my jewelry is yellow gold. I styled it with a brown, menswear-inspired blazer from Sandro that I belted with a brown Prada leather belt all worn over an olive Loewe knitted tank dress. For shoes, I paired the ladylike necklace with a pair of cream round-toe slingbacks from Celine and a Bottega Veneta cream slouchy bag.
Overall, I found the service useful and easy to use both off and online. It was a seamless process from sending through my picks to the concierge to delivery of the jewelry. While the curation will certainly appeal to jewelry buffs and an uptown clientele, I think for those who are simply seeking jewelry by how it looks and something contemporary, the collection could use more options. I found the earring category quite lacking with choices, but the amount of necklaces were robust.” — Kathy Lee, editor-in-chief, TZR
Rent The Runway
How It Works
In order to use Rent The Runway, you can opt into its à la carte/one-time rentals or take advantage of their many subscriptions. For those unsure and new to the latter method, you can start with renting four items per month for $94 a month (FYI: it’s $69 your first month to sweeten the deal) or if you’re the type that needs more options and have a packed calendar, you can jump right into renting 16 designer items per month for $235 per month. (You can read the full breakdown of how each membership plans differ on the website.)
Once you select your pieces, they typically arrive in two days or less and come with a pre-paid return label. (If you’re in the area of one of RTR’s store fronts, you can return your items directly to the store, as well.) Unlike most rental services, you can start selecting new pieces you want, too, as soon as you note what you’re sending back on your RTR account. All the items arrive clean and ready to wear, so you never have to worry about dry cleaning or receiving a piece covered in dog hair.
“The last time I tried RTR was during the service’s early days in the 2010s, when it was mostly focused on occasion wear — and, wow, have they expanded since then! I was really thrilled to find more indie and luxury labels on the site to satisfy my fashion editor sensibilities (ultimately, in addition to the GANNI suit I’m wearing in this picture, I borrowed a Marni button-down and skirt). However, I do advise filtering carefully by your size (rather than browsing by designer) if you don’t want to fall in love with something that’s not currently available.
Additionally, I really appreciated that I received a text message from a real human before the clothes were delivered, making it easy to reschedule to another day when I was wasn’t home. The verdict is still out whether I’ll be a regular member, although I am considering dipping in and out of the subscription for parts of the year when my social calendar’s a bit more full.” — Alison Syrett, deputy fashion editor, TZR
How It Works
Vivrelle offers several membership plans from Premier to Couture+, with increasing access to different accessories categories the more you pay. With premiere, you can rent one item at a time (from the jewelry category only) for $39 a month while the Couture+ allows you to dip into Vivrelle’s jewelry, bags, and limited-edition pieces for $279 per month. Once you’ve selected your plan, you can immediately place an order on its website.
Some important user experiences to note is that there is a three-month minimum membership commitment and you have to keep your item(s) for a month before ordering new pieces. There is no return date on any of the items though, so if you love your piece you can keep it for as long as you want! For those who reside in NYC, you can also drop by the Vivrelle showroom to return your pieces and check out new selections in person through an appointment, which you can make through your user account. Additionally, if you’re worried about accidental scratches or a spill on said items, don’t worry! Vivrelle offers standard insurance that protects you against normal wear and tear. (Premium insurance is available for an additional charge, for those who want this option.)
“The only fashion rental service I’ve tried prior to Vivrelle was RTR, so I was excited to dip my toes into Vivrelle’s designer bag collection (I opted for the Couture+ membership so that I could reap the full benefits!). I’ve had my eye on the Bottega Veneta Jodie bag in shearling, so when I spotted it on the site available to rent, I immediately added it into my checkout cart. (I did browse through a few more pages of bags, but a lot of the other options I loved were not available.) It took a few days for the bag to arrive and upon inspection, it looked pristine.
What I love about the service is that it allowed me to rent more trendy items that I typically would not purchase, like this fuzzy pink purse that tapped into the Barbiecore fashion trend. I only wore the item out and about a few times — the pink didn’t go with all my outfits, so most days I defaulted back to my classic Prada Nylon shoulder bag. The Jodie did, however, fit a ton of items — more than I thought — like my wallet, keys, a portable battery charger, lip balm, and sunglasses.
Although I’m not a big fan of having to wait a full month in order to switch up my item — I prefer a more flexible swap option — in hindsight, Vivrelle made me realize that if I don’t want to keep something for 30 days, it probably means I shouldn’t be buying the item IRL. Therefore, thanks to Vivrelle for stopping me from impulse shopping. I still have two months left on my membership, so I will continue to rent and test out other bags I’ve had my eyes on.” — Marina Liao, fashion news editor, TZR
How It Works
You can start your membership by making an account on Vince Unfold. There is only one rental plan — pay $160 a month to take out four items and you can cancel your plan anytime without penalty. Once you’re in your account, you have to curate your “Edit” or wishlist with at least 10 items (the max is 24) and Vince Unfold will automatically start sending out your items in the next two to three days. The brand currently does not let you rent shoes or accessories, but you have full access to all its covetable ready-to-wear garments.
It’s important to let Vince know what your priority items are by selecting the four you want first, otherwise you will get an assortment of products from your curated Edit list. Once you’re ready to return your four items, simply ship them out with the pre-paid envelope provided and then you can rent more pieces. Luckily, since you have unlimited exchanges, you have more flexibility in swapping as you see fit. And if you happen to love a knit sweater or heavy coat, you can purchase it directly.
“This is my first time doing a clothing subscription, but admittedly it’s the perfect time in my life for this type of convenience. Style-wise I’m out growing a lot of my closet, but don’t have the time to shop for and buy an entirely new wardrobe. I loved the wide selection of styles to choose from in Vince Unfold, and the clothes matched my minimal and elevated aesthetic perfectly.
I really liked that I could rent whole outfits or just stand alone pieces to go with other clothes already in my closet. As far as the mechanics of the subscription, it took me a while to get the hang of it. You have to select a certain number of pieces before four pieces are chosen to be sent to you. And while you can’t choose which pieces get sent your way, you can prioritize certain pieces in your cart, which helps.
You do have to return or purchase the clothes sent to you before you can receive another package, and this component of the subscription definitely tripped me up as I am notoriously bad at making time to return packages. That aside I can definitely see myself using Vince Unfold on a more routine basis especially for things like workwear and especially outerwear. Instead of buying new coats each fall, renting in-season styles for a few months seems really ideal, too.” — Annie Blay, associate beauty news editor, TZR
How It Works
Start your journey with Switch by opting into one of its three plans, ranging from Gold to Black memberships. For reference, Gold allows you to rent one item at a time for $45 a month while the Black plan gives you access to rent three pieces at a time for $95 a month. You can keep the jewelry (from labels like Mateo and Christian Dior) for however long you want, but when you’re ready to exchange one (or all) of your baubles, you can send them back via the prepaid shipping label Switch provides you.
Should you want to personally own the jewelry you’re wearing, you can buy the piece for less than retail value. An important incentive for members to remember is that you can earn purchase credit (Gold members accumulate $5 a month, Platinum members get $7 a month, and Black members earn $10 a month), which you can then use to buy your jewelry.
“As much as I’m an admirer of jewelry, I wear the same three pieces every day: hoop earrings and two necklaces gifted to me by my mom. Jewelry can be quite expensive and I always have trouble pulling the trigger on new pieces. Enter Switch. I needed all the help I can get for NYFW dressing, so I went with the three-piece plan. This week was about show and tell, so I got bigger pieces like the beautiful Monica Sordo earrings and an oversized pendant from Aurelie Bidermann.
They’re pieces that I normally wouldn’t buy for myself, so I was super excited that I got to try them out with Switch. I wore them practically every day and it helped elevate every outfit, even when I went super casual like on this day when I wore shorts and a T-shirt. I love that there is also an option to purchase pieces you’ve borrowed for cheaper than retail value. I’m excited to see what new pieces I get next month.” — Stephanie Sanchez, fashion & accessories editor
How It Works
Nuuly’s fashion rental plan is straightforward: for $88 a month you can rent any six styles from its roster of 100+ brands for a month. Labels range from Free People and Anthropologie to LOVESHACKFANCY and AGOLDE. It will take two to three business days for the order to get to you. Once received, you can keep your six items for as long as you want, but in order to receive fresh pieces, you’ll need to send back all your items to Nuuly first. They provide a prepaid shipping label for you. (They will also notify you of when to return the items, so you don’t have to keep track of this in your busy schedule.) Should you fall in love with the item (or items) you rented, you can purchase it directly on the website to keep forever.
“I’ve been renting my wardrobe for almost three years, so I consider myself a rental expert at this point. This is my first time trying Nuuly, and I absolutely loved it. With a Nuuly subscription, you get to rent six styles every month for $88. I used their app to pick out my pieces, and I loved the selection. I found the brands super approachable, and I felt like the pieces were easy to work into my personal wardrobe.
Once placing my order, the items arrived in a few days. I loved being able to order so many pieces: I ordered a sequin skirt, a cottagecore-esque dress, an oversized blazer, an elevated white button-down, cargo pants, and a simple tube top. With these pieces, the outfit possibilities for NYFW felt endless. The only thing about this service that bothered me was that the pieces came without hangers, so I had to scrounge around my closet for hangers and steam most of the items. Overall, though, I found the service easy to use. And, I absolutely loved the clothes so I may continue to use this rental service beyond NYFW.” — Maggie Haddad, senior social media strategist, TZR