As highlighted before, Generation 32 of iNDiViDUALS implemented a rental system as part of the consultancy’s business model. As a result of an increase in the fashion consumers’ consciousness, purchasing habits have changed and fashion rental platforms are popping up everywhere.
The iNDiViDUALS’ rental system is implemented with hopes of, on the one hand raising awareness among consumers on the importance of rethinking the current design principles and the excessive consumption, iNDiViDUALS Studio implemented a rental system. This system provides the AMFI community with both high-quality and accessible garments. Through this implementation, it is proved that the issue of overproduction within fast fashion can take a different approach and act differently.
On the other hand, because we also want to show the industry how we are able to do it differently. Each generation of iNDiViDUALS adds unique designed pieces every semester again. Currently, this model provides the community with the opportunity to rent either a blazer, which was designed by Generation 31 of iNDiViDUALS; or a woven top, which was designed by Generation 32. With the implementation of the woven top in the rental system, iNDiViDUALS Studio raises consciousness by showcasing that there is an untapped beauty in the natural ageing process of garments. iNDiViDUALS wants the consumer to rethink the way garments are valued along their lifespan. This has been communicated with Generation’s 32 design principle: ‘designing for time instead of against it’.
Within the process of renting and continuous lifecycle, iNDiViDUALS Studio sees an opportunity. By keeping in mind how a garment will age and change over time, and combining it with innovative and adjustable designs, iNDiViDUALS expects the garments’ designs to be appreciated and therefore, to be thrown away in a later stage. This will lengthen their life cycles. To ensure the garments’ designs are appreciated, iNDiViDUALS highlights the beauty of ageing by using natural dyes and tie techniques that reveal their depth when aged.
In order to push this even further, we’ve used technology in the design process to visualise how the garment will look in a later stage of its life cycle. This will show the consumer what they can do with it instead of throwing it away after having used it for too long, after it’s broken, or out of trend. iNDiViDUALS doesn’t aim to make them feel guilty for following the “buy, use, throw” principle we are used to, but to invite them to see and value their garments differently.
With the implementation of this model, iNDiViDUALS Studio contributes to solving the industry’s issues by becoming more sustainable. But because iNDiViDUALS is an educational related company, besides being able to lengthen its garments’ lifecycle, the other brand’s natural positioning as an educational program is allowing the community to participate in the process and interact with iNDiViDUALS. Generation 32 of iNDiViDUALS has done this with the implementation of the Garment Passport.
THE GARMENT PASSPORT
Besides the educational experience, iNDiViDUALS Studio also aims to strengthen the feeling of community and encourage them to actively participate in contributing to solve the current issues within the fashion industry. Throughout their experience, each individual fills it in with pictures as well as with the stories they are creating. Once the garment is returned, the Garment Passport will be too. The passport will be passed on to the next renter who will create new memories with the garment and will keep filling the Passport. To ensure its transparency, iNDiViDUALS included in this document the objective information about each garment - from where it was made, to how and by whom. Additionally, to activate customers’ participation, iNDiViDUALS will hand them over the Garment Passport in the beginning of the renting period. Each receives the Passport which belongs to the garment they’re taking with them.
Rental businesses are popping up everywhere and brands have seen as an opportunity using product passports which can help them differentiate themselves and build consumer loyalty by enhancing their trust (McKinsey & Company, 2022). This will serve as a tool to counteract the obsolete product cycle system that fast fashion has left behind. In a bid to authentication, transparency and sustainability, the garment passport allows for not only a co-creative experience with the consumers, but also transparency along the supply chain of each garment - from its creation to its last wearer. iNDiViDUALS has acknowledged this and taken action by implementing the Garment Passport.
In the future, we see this will hopefully continue and will be further enforced with the use of blockchains and technology. The fashion industry is currently investing heavily in digital technologies that enable products to have unique identifiers as well as other digital information. Through a combination of blockchain technology, QR codes, among others, these “product passports” link information that is valuable to consumers and partners to individual products (The Fashionaut, 2022). With this project, business case and the participation of consumers, an ongoing and co-creative story is created by and shared with the Community. It will be continued as long as there are new wearers who are willing to take on this experience. However, still the biggest challenge… How do we reach them and why would they rent?
WHAT DO WE WANT TO ACHIEVE WITH IT?
When it comes to the production of the garments that will be included in the Rental System, iNDiViDUALS Studio sees it as a priority to produce and source materials locally, but also to be as transparent as possible with the community while providing them with the best possible quality.
iNDiViDUALS Studio has decided to be transparent with its supply chain and show all the steps along the process. From the concept to the final product, but also giving the community an insight into the merchandise plan. This will enable a full oversight to our customer incrementing therefore the transparency and openness.
iNDiViDUALS shows the industry how it could be different. This information will provide the industry with possible tools they could implement to help build a trustful, loyal and long-lasting relationship with customers.
THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE WOVEN TOP - CREATING THE COMMUNITY COLLECTION
One of iNDiViDUALS Studio’s brand positioning elements is the continual renewal of students every semester. Unlike other brands, every 6 months, there is a new group of 30 young professionals who join and run the company implementing innovative and creative ideas. Moreover, iNDiViDUALS is funded by an educational institution. Therefore, it is an opportunity to be sustainable by sourcing and producing locally. This is something that differentiates iNDiViDUALS from its competitors.
As part of its brand positioning strengths, it is recommended that each of the iNDiViDUALS’ generations adds its own style from their Community Collection to the Renting System. This will ensure that the gap between iNDiViDUALS and its competitors narrows. Additionally, It will also provide the community with unique and statement pieces, which, based on the results of the survey Generation 32 of iNDiViDUALS carried out, this is what the community is looking for.
If in the future iNDiViDUALS wants to focus on more than just the AMFI Community, there will be more demand, and therefore more supply will be needed to serve the entire target group.
To get to know our community, we researched what their attitude is towards sustainability, values, pricing of garments and fashion rental. The results of the research shaped the choice of the rental model, material and production choices. Our community sees a need for change in the fashion industry. They would like to see a reduction within fast fashion, fewer collections per year, as well as reducing the negative impact on the environment. Besides these, they also aim for more reuse and rental brands. After having conducted this research, iNDiViDUALS saw an opportunity and decided to implement its new rental model.
It had to be considered that iNDiViDUALS’ main target group are students and young professionals who have either a part-time or no job. From research, it is shown that only 10,83% from the AMFI Community has a spending limit of more than 50€ for a complete 8-day renting experience. Therefore, to promote the use of the rental service to bring about change, iNDiViDUALS had to find a way to make this very accessible to them, thus the price point iNDiViDUALS Studio decided to set on this piece was 32,50€ and 42,50€ for the 4- and 8-day renting experiences respectively. Additionally, a top was the most wanted item compared to the other 4 from the collection. From research, it was concluded that 31% of the community would be interested in renting a top. Therefore, iNDiViDUALS decided to include the top as the next piece from the Community Collection in the rental system.
iNDiViDUALS Studio aims to have the least environmental impact and strives to minimise it as much as possible. This is why it uses only organic cotton that is GOTS certified. The Global Organic Textile Standard stands for a certification system that is the result of a partnership between trade associations and a non-profit foundation. The association is devoted to "ecologically and socially responsible textile production". (GOTS, 2022) As stated by the label holder, its goal is that "organic textiles become integral parts of everyday life, improving lives and benefiting the environment". (GOTS, 2022) The purpose of the seal is to establish an international uniform, credible, standardised, controllable and traceable standard that covers the entire supply chain. (GOTS, 2022)
Regarding the strategy behind the fabric’s direction, as iNDiViDUALS, we believe in sustainability beyond circularity. Therefore, Generation 32 selected 100% cotton as the material to use. It was a popular choice based on the community survey which provided a strong argument in its favour. The advantages of cotton are numerous, such as its ease to be used. It is also easy to handle when it comes to washing and drying, it is very skin-friendly, thus ideal for using in a rental system with different types of wearers.
COLOURISATION - THE NATURAL DYEING PROCESS
Generation 32 of iNDiViDUALS is also committed to minimising natural damage, such as the contamination of groundwater or heavy metal exposure in diverse ecosystems. This is achieved by utilising natural dyes to create distinctive colours for the woven top. The use of natural dyes is one of Generation 32's techniques for illustrating the ageing process of a garment in terms of creasing on different parts of the piece, some of which were dipped in the dye more frequently to create a colour palette of contrasts. The most important thing to bear in mind is that these dyes naturally age as a result of time, for example, the colour of the fabric will fade as it ages. The main materials used are Logwood and Walnut Husk.
On the one hand, by dyeing walnut husks the tones which are obtained are grey-brown tones. Husks are the dried outer shells of walnuts, which are used to create a dyebath (Meaningful Crafts, 2022). On the other hand, generally speaking, logwood consists of the heartwood of the Campeche tree that grows in mid- and south-America. It is a traditional dye that has been in use for centuries. The red-brown wood chips produce an intense blue-purple dye (Meaningful Crafts, 2022).
Besides choosing only implementing natural dyes to be as sustainable as possible, iNDiViDUALS decided to use as much deadstock from the iNDiViDUALS Studio Attic as possible (mainly buttons) for the trimmings. To minimise the use of plastic within the rest of the trimmings, Generation 32 used metal zippers, metal eyelets, and metal buckles.
Finally, because of the material being used, which is not cheap, and to make sure we encourage the community to make use of this service to bring about change, iNDiViDUALS decided to set the price point of 32,50€ and 42,50€ for the 4- and 8-day renting experiences respectively. The rental system’s main target group is students who either have a part-time or no job. Therefore, the price must be very accessible for them to be able to afford taking part of the renting experience.
In order to future-proof the rental system and encourage the community to keep taking part of it, each generation of iNDiViDUALS will be adding unique products in this unique collection.
HOW CAN FASHION BRANDS BENEFIT FROM IMPLEMENTING A RENTAL SYSTEM
As described earlier, the fashion renting market is booming (Catherine Erdly, 2022). Customers’ behaviour has changed. They’ve become more aware of the importance sustainability has in the industry. iNDiViDUALS acknowledges that the rapid trend cycles and the desire for constant newness are still there. Therefore, by implementing a rental model, fashion brands maintain this idea of newness without the effect of linear consumption.
As mentioned by the online publication for Australian enterprises, Dynamic business, in the article “Pros and cons of running a rental business”, by implementing a rental system as part of their business model, fashion brands can ensure an increased profit margin over time. By renting out garments to a wide range of people, brands will have a limitless and active profit on an item, rather than getting only one sum whenever a customer purchases it to permanently own it.
In a linear industry, brands are used to focusing on only selling products. However, this has changed. In this current marketing heavy industry, being able to include the consumer in the process and interacting with it are currently considered a distinctive economic offering. Therefore, customers now expect brands not only to provide them with goods and services, but also to offer these unique experiences (Joseph Pine and James h. Gilmore). The competition will lie in promoting and enabling experiences for its customers, whilst minimising impact and offering newness.
iNDiViDUALS Studio understands this structure and is successfully rolling out this strategy with a renting model. They provide their customers with both an educational experience, and with freedom to undergo what it feels like being part of a community, creating stories with a garment and sharing them with each other. iNDiViDUALS Studio therefore recommends the fashion brands to target this change and to start supplying consumers with what they are now demanding. Besides this, there would be a chance for brands to establish the bases to ensure customer loyalty and secure long-lasting customer relations. Unlike going to a store once to buy their goods and never returning, by renting, brands ensure that there’s a higher retention rate. This will provide them with the opportunity to have a continuous service and interaction with the renters, as well as with a moment to get feedback from them.
Nevertheless, based on the iNDiViDUALS’ experience with their rental system, by adapting this model, fashion brands also run the risk of encountering difficulties along the way. For example, with the implementation of this model, iNDiViDUALS now needs to continuously care after every renting period. Brands would need to deal not only with the cleaning, but also with any damage the garment might have. iNDiViDUALS is expected to keep their products in the best condition before renting them out again. These costs can be quite expensive. Therefore, it is of vital importance that they have a clear rental agreement that outlines what the penalties are in case there’s any damage, misuse or even loss of the rented piece.
It’s an amazing opportunity and iNDiViDUALS is currently doing great. However, Generation 32 has been the first one to implement this model. Therefore, there’s a lot more to come and adjustments to be made which Generation 32 leaves behind on the legacy for Generation 33. This is a starting point to continue further research and keep testing. An ongoing exciting story that continues, renews and further develops with each of the iNDiViDUALS’ generations to come. Keep track and we will keep you posted on our next steps, but most importantly… start renting and taking part of this experience!