The rise of rental offers wedding guests the opportunity to wear something new while reducing waste and giving clothes a second life – your wallet will thank you too …
If you’ve RSVP’d to a number of weddings this year you’ll likely be assessing your options. Many of us will have dresses in the back of the wardrobe that haven’t had a day out in a long time and it could be their time to shine. A quick trip to your local tailor can have tired dresses with missing buttons or loose hems fixed up, while an old dress can feel brand new again with the help of a quick Dylon washing machine dye. There are ways and means to work with what you have. But if you are struggling to find something that will work, or really fancy something special and new for a big occasion, why not consider renting or borrowing, from either a professional service or a friend?
As we all become more aware of the impact that the endless cycle of clothing and textile production is having on the environment, many of us are trying to shop less, buy better and are now looking to rental options rather than buying something new each time we have a big event. So often occasion dresses are purchased with one outing in mind and they don’t see the light of day again after they’ve been worn once. Rental services like Happy Days, Drobey, Greens Are Good For You and Rag Revolution in Ireland have been set up to tackle this exact issue, offering customers the chance to rent items for set periods of time, often for a much lower cost than the regular RRP of the items. These services can often offer a more environmentally-friendly option while still wearing something “new to you” by keeping clothing that’s already been purchased in circulation for longer.
Floral pleated Georgette dress, Ganni, rental from €65, at Drobey; www.drobey.ie.
Launched in April 2023, Drobey is Ireland’s newest fashion rental platform. Instead of honing in on just occasionwear, Drobey offers everything from boots, handbags, sunglasses and other accessories along with more casual T-shirts, corsets and mini skirts. “The idea is that you invest in your staple wardrobe pieces, and rent the more expensive, one-off or statement pieces through our platform. Drobey is like your second wardrobe!” founder Nicky Dwyer tells us. “We want people to be able to discover new brands, experiment with their style, and have some fun with fashion, whilst avoiding the high price points and waste that often comes with this. We’re big on the fact that rental is a great way of improving accessibility to high end brands – Drobey enables you to engage with these brands and temporarily own them through our rental model.”
Taking the sustainability factor to the next level, it was important for Dwyer to stock sustainable brands at Drobey too. “We have some really cool sustainable brands already on board, such as Umlaut in Paris, who use unused fabric stock from major fashion houses to create their pieces, The Vintage Studio in the UK who sell one-off pieces of reworked vintage clothing, and Ten Eveleen in Australia, who hand make each individual piece in accordance with demand, to name a few.” They also stock two Irish designers in-store – Colin Horgan and Rachel Maguire of Rashiiid, the first foray into rental for both designers.
Drobey has a showroom in Monkstown, Co Dublin, where they offer 30 minute try-on appointments, where you can book in with a friend and make the space your own as you plan your upcoming outfits. You can take your pieces home there and then through the click and collect option, or have them shipped to you directly. Rental periods of 4, 8 and 12 days are available, and priced accordingly, so if you’re going on holidays you can take Drobey pieces in your carry on, too. Summer dressing never looked so good. www.drobey.ie.
Rachel Hennessy (pictured above), a trained accountant and former Google employee set up Happy Days at the end of 2021. The pandemic forced her to reevaluate her relationship with clothes and shopping and she saw a gap in the market for a business in Ireland to service those wishing to reduce their consumption but still be able to embrace the joy of fashion, dressing up and wearing something “new”. Happy Days is a rental platform that allows users to borrow items for occasions like weddings, milestone birthdays, communions, confirmations and holidays for periods of three, five or ten days. What separates Happy Days is that Hennessy buys all of the items second-hand from pre-loved platforms like Depop, Ebay and Vestiaire Collective, embracing the circularity of clothing and reducing the company’s impact at every stage. Seeing the huge volumes of items available on these platforms, Hennessy wished to give them a new lease of life that would allow them to be worn again and again and so Happy Days was born. Happy Days currently has almost 400 dresses (the most popular brands since the launch include Olivia Rubin and Rixo) at the moment which customers can browse and try on at their Leopardstown Road store in Dublin 18. Inclusive sizing was a priority for Hennessy, and the Happy Days offering goes up to a size 26 with more variety in larger sizes coming soon. Whatever wedding guest style you prefer, there’s bound to be something to suit all styles, sizes and ages. www.happy-days.ie
Orange Bysha maxi dress, Solace London, from €70; www.greensaregoodforyou.com.
Greens Are Good For You, another Irish rental service, aims to offer customers the option to consume with a conscience, and to make aspirational brands accessible and affordable. The idea of the brand’s shared wardrobe has gone one step further and as well as renting from the Greens Are Good For You core collection, customers also have the option to embrace peer-to-peer rental. If you have items in your wardrobe that you would be happy to loan out to others, all you have to do is fill out a form on the Greens Are Good For You website with information and imagery about the items and, if approved, your pieces will be added to the site’s offering. www.greensaregoodforyou.com
Pink linen cut out dress, Aje, from €85; www.ragrevolution.com.
If you enjoy the experience of traditional shopping and would be hesitant about renting something for an occasion without trying it on, rental service Rag Revolution offers customers the option to try the item at home two or three days prior to their event. If you opt for the try on service and if you are unhappy with the sizing or style, Rag Revolution will refund you the price of the rental. Rag Revolution’s founder Edel Lyons set out to offer a more sustainable way to enjoy fashion, ensuring you always have a new outfit for your occasion with less guilt and the platform has become increasingly popular with those looking for outfits for special events. www.ragrevolution.com
And at Brown Thomas Dundrum a special rental section has been established allowing shoppers the opportunity to rent pieces from their favourite brands for a set period of time. The edit of designers changes depending upon availability but expect the likes of Aje, Rotate Birger Christensen and Dolce & Gabbana.