Over the last couple of weeks I’ve come across two organisations who are aiming to get more use out of the things we own.
Streetbank was set up to bring neighbours together – to foster community and generosity by encouraging people to share their things, skills and time. Trying to combat the trend towards owning more and using it less (Streetbank say that the annual average usage for a household drill is a mere 14 minutes), Streetbank encourages people to post items they would be happy to share with their neighbours from books and DVDs, to electrical equipment and even skills and services. A common trade is language teaching in return for cleaning.
I’ve always had an aversion to throwing things away, so when on signing up I was given an option of something to rent, a skill or an item to donate, I immediately opted for giving away an overly fluffy wool dress that was waiting for me to take it to a charity shop.
I wasn’t sure if I’d get a response, but sure enough a message appeared in my inbox 3 days later from a local lady offering to pick it up. A few emails later and the dress had a new home and I had a heart-warming new message “Thank you so much Zoe, the dress is really beautiful.”.
At the other end of the market from my simple wool dress, Anna Bance’s Girl Meets Dress has all of the designer offerings you could wish for. Cited as “The answer to your prayers” by Vogue and “Rental’s answer to Net-a-Porter” by the Sunday Times, Girl Meets Dress has both found a way to increase utilisation of those wear-once-in-a-lifetime pieces and to make them more affordable.
Anna thinks that the rental model is win-win for consumers and designers, “The ability to wear several different outfits is a definite crowd pleaser. Imagine it: you can wear a bright yellow cocktail dress to dinner tonight and a full-length ball gown for tomorrow night’s party. Different crowd, different place, different you. Around 98 per cent of our customers try a new brand they have never worn before in their lives – that is a huge marketing opportunity for designers trying to reach new customers, and the next generation, on a mass scale.”