‘Renting is the new black’

As UK agent for Boland Party and ITI (UK) and after being part of the trade for ‘most of his working life’ Mark Brett knows a thing or two about the party industry. In his latest blog post he takes a look at why consumers are moving back towards hiring costumes instead of buying them…

“Within the party and fancy dress industry, much of today’s market was first created by retailers who used to hire out costumes for fancy dress parties. If you go back, perhaps, 20 or 25 years, the only fancy dress available was hire. Then came along some innovative suppliers who discovered they could source very inexpensive alternatives for the consumer to buy and keep, from the Far East. The idea of actually buying and keeping the costume for less than it costs to hire it has created the huge market we have now. A slight over-simplification, but the principal and consequence are the same.

Within fashion, there has never been much of a tradition for hire, but that is changing as suppliers tap into this emerging market to gain access to new consumers seeking both affordability and a move away from the permanent ownership.

Environmental issues are frontline news while also creating new and different opportunities for most businesses with any commercial sense  The idea that fast ‘fashion’ gets quickly dumped into landfill is not an appealing thought, and despite a number of concerns the environment is undoubtedly an influencing factor.

So where does that leave us within our own marketplace? I am not totally sure. There are theories that the total market for fancy dress is close to a plateau. There is, undoubtedly, a move by the consumer to buy accessories that can be used more than once, so perhaps there is a perfect storm brewing – the meeting of converging energies, trends, environment and economics.

One of the most notable features over the last couple of years within our industry has been the mass closure of fancy dress hire operators. Ironically, retailers looking at closing their hire departments might now want to hang on for a bit…”

Mark’s original blog post can be read in full here.

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