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Brief Published: 27 Mar 2013

Renting Fashion: Mud Jeans Denim Rental, Holland


Dutch casual fashion retailer Mud Jeans – helmed by Dutch entrepreneur Bert Van Son – has launched a new initiative dubbed “Lease-a-Jean”: an unusual clothing rental service, run from both its e-tail site and in selected Netherlands stores.

Customers can borrow one pair of jeans per year at a rate of €5 ($6.50) per month, plus a one-time €20 ($26) joining fee, making a total of €80 ($103). At the end of the lease, clients can choose to keep the jeans for an added deposit of €20, or turn them in and lease a new pair, if desired. Returned jeans are either cleaned and leased out again or recycled into new apparel.

The system subscribes to the theory that consumers today are more concerned about using a product than actually possessing it, and are increasingly happy to purchase in portions, rather than spending big up front (for more on this topic, see Subscription Shopping).

Mud’s jeans cost approximately €100 ($128) per pair, so although leasing for a year presents consumers with a potential saving of €20, the cost balances out if borrowers opt to keep the jeans.

An additional option that allows them to swap jeans throughout the year (for approximately €7 ($9) a time) delivers an extra lure for those denim borrowers unsure about committing to the full year. All of which presents something of a win-win for the consumer, which begs the question: what’s in it for Van Son? Both a desire for a more eco-conscious fashion industry, and a promotional opportunity to build a bigger brand following, it would seem.

Since launching in January 2013, several hundred people have signed up to the scheme.

Consumer interest in access over ownership can also been seen in the success of car-sharing schemes such as Zipcar, music-streaming services including Spotify, and apparel rental services like Rent the Runway – a US-based service that allows users to rent luxury fashion. For more on the emergence of sharable services and schemes that allow consumers to trade in and trade up, see Sharing Society and Recommerce: How to Exploit It.

For more on the consumer appetite/retailer response to sustainability, see Positive Provenance, H&M’s Global Recycling Initiative and Marks & Spencer’s Sustainable Fashion Lab.