Selfridges is offering fashion items for rent in a bid to attract younger and ecologically minded customers at a challenging time for the retail sector.
The luxury retailer, which controls Brown Thomas and Arnotts in Dublin, has teamed up with HURR, an online fashion rental platform, to offer 100 items from more than 40 fashion brands for hire for up to 20 days at a time.
Selfridges also plans to sell a selection of vintage clothing for six weeks from the end of September, building on a secondhand clothing concession it launched with online reseller Vestiaire Collective last year. Shoppers can also sell used accessories to the store for credit from mid-October.
Coronavirus has altered the "cycle of consumption in a way we could never have predicted", managing director Anne Pitcher said. As a result, she said, Selfridges has to "change how shopping is done".
Selfridges last week announced plans to cut almost 15 per cent of jobs across the two stores due to trading difficulties arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
Staff at the Irish department stores were informed on Thursday of the decision to make 150 employees redundant. Together, the two outlets employ 1,050 people, not including concessions.
Ms Pitcher said customers were taking greater consideration of the environmental impact of their shopping choices.
She said: “We firmly believe evolving the way we do business and supporting change in the way people shop is essential to building a more sustainable business.
“Selfridges has the platform to change how shopping is done wrapped up in the destinations, experiences and inspiration customers want from us.”
Growing consumer concern over the ecological impact of fast fashion means many retailers are scrambling to tap into surging demand for renting and buying secondhand items.
E-commerce sites like Depop and Poshmark have popularised selling used clothing online. Last year in the United States, department stores Macy's and JC Penney signed partnerships with ThredUP, a San Francisco-based resale company.
Zalando is launching a pre-owned fashion range on its site later this year. On an earnings call this week, David Schroeder, chief financial officer at the German online fashion retailer, said it will allow customers to sell their clothes to Zalando "quickly and effortlessly, and will also provide them with a highly curated, quality checked and convenient selection of items available for purchase".
The Selfridges initiatives form part of the retailer’s plans to reduce its environmental impact, which also include a commitment to become carbon-neutral by 2050.
Selfridges said it is also committing to use materials from certified, sustainable sources across its products by 2025. It also committed to engage with staff and customers to ensure it puts “longevity, creativity and sustainability at the heart of the business”.
Alannah Weston, Selfridges group chairwoman, said: “Out of the global pandemic has come an understanding of how fragile and complex our systems are, but also how our planet and people can benefit if we act collectively with a shared purpose.
“Now more than ever we must double down on our efforts to reinvent retail with sustainability at its heart and a way of working which is regenerative for humans and nature.
Selfridges is best known for its giant shopping emporium on London’s Oxford Street but also has stores in Birmingham and Manchester and an online division.
Last month the retailer, which is owned by the Weston family, announced it would be cutting 14 per cent of its workforce, around 450 roles, as retailers struggle to emerge from pandemic-induced shutdowns. – Bloomberg / PA