Love to travel, but hate the stress and hassle of having to pack for a long trip? Well, flying suitcase-free to your favorite European destinations could be a thing of the future, according to the market research group Euromonitor. In the 2016 Global Travel Trends report, researchers have uncovered a new trend of shoe and clothing rental services, and indicate that this could be an increasingly popular trend in the coming years—at least for millennial travelers. It should come as no surprise that a generation who is comfortable enough renting out strangers’ homes (Airbnb) and using strangers’ vehicles (Uber) would also be comfortable enough renting apparel items during their time abroad.
Young startups like Pimkie, unPack, and even hoteliers like Starwood’s Westin Brand are capitalizing on changing consumer preferences and the all too familiar irritation of bulky luggage. Whether you’ve packed too much, or forgotten a key item, it seems that we as travelers can never get it right. That’s where these rental services come in handy. The process is quite simple too; all travelers have to do is fill out an online form indicating their clothing size, preferred brands and styles and any information regarding their travel destination. Not only does this service help eliminate additional baggage fees in an already expensive transportation era, but it also helps customers better prepare for the unique weather environment that awaits them. For example, a traveler from the warm, beach-lined coasts of Southern California may not have use for a down jacket when they’re home, but they’ll definitely need it for a trip to Antwerp in mid-December. Many of these services allow for such specific requests. The American apparel rental service, unPack, promotes their Winter apparel packages that include a down jacket, winter hat, scarves, gloves and umbrella. All customers have to do is pick up the suitcase at their hotel’s front desk and make sure everything’s returned before their departure. Hoteliers have also hopped on the bandwagon and begun renting out running shoes and athletic wear to health-conscious guests that may not have enough room in their suitcase for such bulky items.
In terms of European travel, the retailer, Pimkie, has installed Mini Fashion Bars in major cities like Antwerp, Milan, and Paris within the last year. Pimkie allows guests to buy clothes and accessories, which have been selected to match the city’s local weather and location from the comfort of their hotel room closet. Although this is not a true apparel-rental service, it still eliminates the need for travelers to pack so much at the beginning of their trip and risk not packing the appropriate items, while allowing them to do it from the convenience and comfort of their hotel room. This allows for personalized customer service, and a high degree of customer interaction, all of which millennials need and have ultimately come to expect.
The researchers also noted in their report the potential implications these services may have on the fashion industry as a whole. Up and coming fashion labels and designers can look to expand their business by partnering with these companies and take advantage of shifts in consumer preferences. It will also allow them to reach an even broader range of potential customers, since these rental-services target travelers from all over the world.
It will be interesting to see whether or not this trend will actually catch on in the international market, but considering how well similar services like Uber and Airbnb have done, it wouldn’t be surprising if this becomes the new way of travel in the near future! If you would like to learn more about the growing apparel-rental industry and its implications for International travel and the fashion industry I would encourage you to check out the following website:
Halie was a spring 2016 Florence University of the Arts from the University of South Carolina.