Add Banana Republic to the growing list of retailers getting into the rental business.
Starting in September, the online subscription service, named Style Passport, lets U.S. shoppers rent up to three pieces of women’s apparel a month for $85. The subscription includes free shipping, unlimited exchanges and laundering services. Shoppers also have the option to buy later if they like.
“We’re constantly evolving with our customer, meeting her where she is shopping,” Mark Breitbard, chief executive officer and president of Banana Republic, said in a statement. “Style Passport will drive incremental revenue and help us connect with younger shoppers who appreciate great style and want an affordable, sustainable way to try new fashion. With this new service, we’ll gather valuable insights from a highly interactive customer base that can be used to design future product and experiences.”
The subscription rental model has become increasingly popular in the last few years, allowing shoppers to continually update their wardrobes without breaking the bank. It’s also become popular in light of the increased interest in sustainability, especially among younger shoppers.
Rent the Runway, perhaps the most famous, was founded a decade ago, giving consumers the chance to try out clothes without the investment. Earlier this year, the company was valued at $1 billion.
But the competition has increased in recent years. This summer, Urban Outfitters launched Nuuly; Nike launched Nike Adventure Club, its subscription shoe service for kids, and Bloomingdale’s started My List at Bloomingdale’s.
There’s also Walmart’s Kidbox, American Eagle Outfitters’ American Eagle Style Drop, Express’ Style Trial, Vince Unfold, Rebecca Taylor RNTD, Ann Taylor Infinite Style, Infinitely Loft and New York & Co.’s NY&C Closet. E-commerce giant Amazon recently expanded its try-before-you-buy apparel and accessories Prime Wardrobe program to include an online Personal Shopper for members.
Banana Republic, which is owned by Gap Inc., said it intends to add men’s wear to the subscription service at a later date.
The apparel and accessories company partnered with technology platform CaaStle — the same company that is working with Bloomingdale’s — to power the back-end of the operation. Banana Republic also said shoppers will be able to buy online and pick up in stores starting this fall.
Shares of Gap Inc., which also includes Old Navy, Athleta, Intermix, Hill City and Janie and Jack, were up more than 4 percent during Friday’s trading session, following the announcement. Even so, Gap’s stock is down nearly 50 percent year-over-year. In February, the retailer announced that Old Navy will be spun off into a separate company.