According to recent research by Levi’s, more than half of Aussies admit that about 10% of the new clothes they purchase are only worn once, or not at all, which is no insignificant considering over 30% of Australians own between 50-150 pieces of clothing items.
Despite the rise in popularity of sustainable fashion, many Australians are still confused about the various labels and certifications, and are struggling with information overload or the challenge of having to do further research to know the difference between fact and spin.
One local entrepreneur, Shanya Suppasiritad, intends to address these issues by making it easier for consumers to simply buy less. Shanya’s new brand-to-consumer fashion rental technology, Rntr., cuts out the need for 3rd party hire platforms and allows consumers to rent products direct from the brand’s own e-commerce platform via the “Rent with Rntr” button.
In this interview, Shanya explains why she started Rntr., how it works, and what the future of sustainable fashion looks like for younger generations.
- What sparked the idea behind Rntr.?
As a former personal stylist, I realised how hard it was to be sustainable in the fashion industry. Essentially my job was to encourage people to buy more things and not everyone has the budget to only consume sustainable and ethical brands, and back when I was styling there weren’t so many of them either.
Even those brands who were more ethical, can only be as sustainable as the system allows them to be. They still have to make more items to sell in order to make more money. I truly believe that that’s the issue we are all facing. I then thought to myself; how can I help fashion brands remain or increase the profit margin without producing more items?
That’s where Rntr. was born – a user-led design solution to provide fashion brands with a second revenue stream while producing less and connecting more with their consumers.
- How does it differ from the rental options already in the market?
Rntr. works with fashion brands to enable them to offer the rental services directly from their own website to their customers. We are somewhat like a semi white label, we do all the heavy lifting while building brand trust so that customers can enjoy quality and authenticity of the garments and rental service. We want brands to be part of empowering and encouraging the change in consumer behavior by making it easier for them to create a circular experience for their customer as an additional option to buying.
- How did you know there would be a big enough market for this product?
Consumer behavior is changing, and it’s driven by millennials and Gen Z. They no longer want to consume fashion in the traditional way. Millennials were the first to embrace the sharing economy and Gen Z were born into it, they value usership rather than ownership.
Rntr. set out to drive the market rather than just taking the current market share. The fashion rental industry is sitting at 1% of the industry as a whole. Currently it’s being dominated by a few heavy weights. We have created a plugin solution and infrastructure that enables every single brand in the world to be able to participate in the rental market directly from their own website. In the next 5-10 years most brands will have to jump on board or they will be left behind.
- How are you seeing consumer attitudes around sustainable fashion shifting in 2021?
Since 2017 the consumer’s behavior has already begun to change, and the search for ‘sustainable fashion’ has increased significantly. 2021 is going to be interesting. We are all still recovering from COVID and adjusting our lives to the ‘new normal’.
According to the Good On You article, “Research by McKinsey revealed “57% of shoppers agreed that they had made significant changes to their lifestyles to lessen their environmental impact.” What’s more, the study found that “64% of shoppers decreased their spending on clothing and footwear during the pandemic.” So it looks like conscious shoppers will keep pushing brands to produce more eco-friendly and responsible clothing in 2021.
Brands will be asked to do more and won’t get away with anymore Greenwashing in exchange for their customers to keep swiping their credit cards. They need to find a way to engage deeper with their consumers beyond one time purchasing.
- What are your plans for Rntr. over the next 3 years?
We are on track to bring more brands on board to step into the rental market. We have a really cool partnership that we are cooking up – it’s all very exciting! In 3 years we are hoping to be able to provide accessibility to most people that don’t want to own a rotation section of their wardrobe anymore, they rather have access to it when they choose to do so.
About the expert
Shanya Suppasiritad is a Sydney-based former personal stylist and fashion designer turned entrepreneur who was motivated to make a positive change to the toll the fashion industry is taking on the planet after watching the documentary The True Cost. Recognising that the sharing economy had potential for fashion, she founded peer-to-peer wardrobe-sharing platforms Tumnus and Coclo in 2018 and 2019 respectively, before turning her focus to helping brands rent directly to their customer base. In 2021 Suppasiritad unveiled Rntr, an all-in-one software and logistics solution. The next generation fashion rental technology provides a customised branded subscription website for brands whilst managing warehousing, dry cleaning, packaging, pick, pack and post service for them and simplifying the process of renting fashion for consumers.
Image description: Shanya is sitting cross-leffed on a chair, wearing a black T-shirt, red floral pants, and white sneakers. She is smiling and looking to the side, with one hand in her long, black, wavy hair.
Image by Monica Pronk.