Post COVID-19, the growth of wedding rental market in the US seems uncertain. Rent the Runway, the poster child for fashion rental, has already announced lay-offs, temporary pay cuts and furloughed staff in response to the pandemic. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s sales have dropped significantly. It has also faced allegations of not properly protecting its warehouse employees from coronavirus. The brand has enacted a series of safety measures in its warehouses, as well as giving employees the option of choosing not to work, staying home and using paid benefits.
Rent the Runway is not the only rental company facing challenges as a result of the pandemic. Other platforms, including UK-based, peer-to-peer site Hurr Collective, have also seen a dramatic fall in the number of people renting. While some sites have encouraged people to continue renting items for all those Zoom meetings we’ve been having, it’s a difficult sell considering the price point.
While rental has been hit hard during international lockdowns, there are already positive signs that the sector is recovering. YCloset in China has seen the numbers of people renting increase since lockdown measures were eased at the end of March. Some rental companies may also look at shifting their current models following the pandemic. YCloset, which is backed by e-commerce giant Alibaba, added resale to its services in September 2019, for example.
Hurr Collective has already started encouraging people to list their garments online, considering so many of us are sorting through our closets right now.