Called Nuuly, its goal is to reach younger shoppers who crave more variety and sustainability in their closets.
Urban Outfitters is entering the clothing rental business. In an effort to boost engagement with millennial-age consumers, the 49-year-old retailer is launching a new company called Nuuly by summer 2019. For a cost of $88 per month, subscribers will be able to access clothes from Urban's portfolio, including Anthropologie, Free People and Urban Outfitters, as well as over 100 additional third-party brands and one-of-a-kind vintage and designer pieces. The fee will entitle a subscriber to fill a single 6-item box each month, which works out to one-tenth of the usual price. From a press release,
Nuuly's launch is Urban's attempt to connect with shoppers whose habits have radically changed over the past half-century. Young shoppers in particular are seeking out novelty – avoiding the dreaded 'outfit repeat' that is so unfortunately maligned on social media – while also wanting to embrace sustainability. The clothing rental model resolves these opposing urges.
"Nuuly subscribers will select their styles each month, wear them as often as they like, then swap into new styles next month, infusing freshness and variety into their wardrobes; and if they fall in love with something they’re renting, they can purchase it."
Urban Outfitters is not alone in making the shift to rental (in addition to its brick-and-mortar stores, which will continue to operate). Vox reports that other businesses have done the same in recent years:
"Rent the Runway, the designer gown rental service founded in 2009, hit a billion-dollar valuation in March... Imitators have popped up all over the fashion and home industries; some recent examples include FastPass (Rent the Runway for fast fashion, used primarily by Instagram influencers) and Tulerie (Rent the Runway but peer-to-peer, pulling clothes from other people’s closets). Ikea even launched a furniture rental service earlier this year."
Urban says it will start with 1,000 pieces in its initial collection and add 100+ each week until end of year. It has a state-of-the-art laundry facility in a warehouse outside Philadelphia where items will be thoroughly sanitized because being sent to the next customer.
This is a shift we can expect to see more of, as people reach 'peak stuff' in their personal lives and do not want to fill their homes with clothing that is only worn occasionally.