I’ve Tried Rent the Runway, Nuuly, and Haverdash: Which Clothing Rental Subscription Is Best? | Popgen Tech

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With the busy holiday season coming up, I thought it would be the perfect time to try out a clothing rental service for the first time. I had events and meetings filling up my calendar, so I reached out to Rent the Runway, Nuuly, and Haverdash to see if they were worth the hype. Spoiler alert: I enjoyed all three. Rent the Runway and Nuuly are my favorites. Read on to find out which clothing rental subscription might be right for you.

What is a clothing rental service?

Ronny Kobo Zack Dress by Rent the Runway

Me (right) in a Ronny Kobo Zack dress from Rent the Runway.

Carolyn Lehman


Sites are popping up left and right that allow you to borrow both casual and formal wear for a month or even more than once for a fee that is much less than buying new items. Once you’re done with them, those clothes are mailed, cleaned, and given to another customer. Other clothing rental sites include Gwynnie Bee, Vince Unfold and The Devout.

Clothing rental services are perfect for people who don’t like to be photographed wearing the same formal outfit twice or want to shop more affordably and in a greener way than buying new clothes every month. All of the services reviewed here also allow you to buy items you like at a lower used price, in case you just don’t want to send them back.

What are the pros and cons?

Let’s start with the negatives. I was sick for 10 days during the month I tried the clothes rental service. This meant I couldn’t wear some of the things I borrowed, even if I liked them. This is the downside of renting: if you get sick or your plans are canceled, you simply won’t be able to wear the things you borrowed money for. When you buy clothes instead, you know you’ll be able to wear them in the future. Some of the items you borrow may not look brand new either. I got a few items that still had their tags attached, so there’s a good chance you’ll be the first to wear something, but other items looked slightly worn. It can also seem like a battle to find the styles you want in stock in your size. Sometimes you need to check in at different times to order all the items you need. The last downside is that if you damage an item, you may have to pay for it, depending on the site you order from.

The biggest plus of this whole experience is that it was so much fun. If you love fashion, you will find yourself scrolling through these sites and reading the items at any time of the day as entertainment. I felt so special in all my outfits that I wore them out, many of which I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to afford – I borrowed thousands of dollars worth of clothes during the month-long ordeal. I was especially surprised by the compliments on my outfits from complete strangers. I also found a new brand that I love – ASTR The Label – and a pair of Paige jeans that I decided to buy. Clothing rental sites offer a great way to try out new brands to find the one that suits you best.

Airstrip rental

Cinq à Sept Black Havana Dress by Rent the Runway

I’m wearing a Cinq à Sept Black Havana dress from Rent the Runway.

Carolyn Lehman


Rent the Runway offers both memberships and one-time rentals. I tried the eight-item-per-month rental plan, which is the most popular. It costs $144 per month. Getting started at Rent the Runway is very quick – you’re simply asked for your clothing size. I appreciate it because I know what I like and I don’t need a site to recommend products or brands to me. You can scroll through any brand you want, as well as new arrivals and curated collections, to the main items you want to borrow. The site had a lot of formal and casual styles that I was interested in. I found that they have a particularly impressive collection of formal wear compared to other sites.

Once you decide on the subjects you like, the stress begins. Only certain items will be available in your size to borrow at this time, so you can check back anytime to see what has arrived and what is out of stock. You need to strike when enough items are available that you need. When you refresh your Favorites page, items will be arriving and departing every few minutes, so it can be a little difficult to decide when is the best time to check out. Rent the Runway initially had the fewest items I needed out of the three services I tried, but I ended up getting everything I wanted when I returned hours or days later.

With my plan, I was once able to exchange items I didn’t like, and that’s fine if you end up with items that don’t fit. Rent the Runway has a robust review section where shoppers rate each item as a small, true to size, or large, and share photos of themselves wearing the clothes, which is a huge help when choosing items. ​​​​​​​However, I received two things that didn’t work for me. That was okay though, because I could just swap them out.

Rent the Runway offers a Returnmates service where someone comes to your doorstep to collect your returns and deliver new items. You don’t even have to be home for it. I really liked this service because I didn’t have to go to the post office. The communication offered by Rent the Runway is also excellent. I received frequent text messages telling me when my clothes would be delivered and picked up, and they were delivered very quickly. My items arrived on hangers in a reusable bag, which is better for the environment.

I was a bit concerned about Rent the Runway’s refund policy, as you are responsible for paying the retail value of an item if it is significantly damaged or stolen. That’s not what you want to hear when you’re wearing a $1,000 dress. But minor damage, including even small tears in the fabric, is covered. This is great news for anyone who has ever pulled on a dress only to hear a seam pop (me).

I found Rent the Runway to be the trendiest of the rental services I’ve tried. Overall, I think Rent the Runway is for those who are willing to put in the work to get the great selection available on the site. As it turns out, I am one of those people.


Nuuli

Heather ASTR The Label Mini Dress by Nuuly

Me (right) in the ASTR The Label Heather Mini Dress by Nuuly.

Carolyn Lehman


I tried Nuuly’s six-item rental plan, which costs $88 a month. Nuuly felt a little more casual than Rent the Runway, although it also offers formal styles. You are allowed to scan the entire site, instead of getting recommended items or completing tedious tests. There are many brands available and I quickly found enough items to order that were in stock when I created my account.

This Nuuly plan doesn’t offer the same exchange option as Rent the Runway, but thanks to customers who rate clothes as small, true to size, or large, everything I’ve ordered has fit. I was so impressed when I found a pair of jeans that were long enough for me – I’m 5’10” – that I ended up buying them, and at a great price. I got a pair of Paige jeans for about $100 when they retail for $239 new. A few things I rented even arrived new with tags. Nuuly displays many of its products in both standard and plus size models, which is so thoughtful and useful.

My Nuuly order arrived in an eco-friendly reusable bag. I wish Nuuly offered the same Returnmates service as Rent the Runway as I had to go to the post office to return my items. You can schedule a postman reception, but that seemed more complicated than the very simple Rent the Runway option. Nuuly doesn’t charge for damages or repairs, so I didn’t have to worry about wearing these clothes.

Overall, I found Nuuly to be more approachable and relaxed than Rent the Runway. If you don’t want high fashion and the high stakes of Rent the Runway, go for Nuuly. If you prefer to receive more items at once rather than exchanging items throughout the month, Nuuly may also be a better fit for you.


Haverdash

With Haverdash, I received three items at a time, which I could change as many times as I wanted during the month. You must return all three items to receive new ones, and you must have at least eight items in your closet for new deliveries to begin. Haverdash is the most affordable option here, at $59 per month. Personally, I would like to receive more items at once, because I don’t like to run to the post office all the time. But if you’re on a tight budget, this service can offer the most bang for your buck.

I thought the clothing selection on Haverdash was very cute. I was immediately able to find three items in stock to order. The site has more casual options than official ones like Rent the Runway. You should search for clothing on Haverdash by product category. So you can click on “dresses” and then click on the brand you’d like to see more of. I would like to see all the products of the brand on one page, which is not possible. I wasn’t able to find all the items in my size at the time, but I had a better chance of doing so in the future thanks to the exchange feature.

I wish this site had more reviews and sliders to show if things run small, true to size, or large like Rent the Runway and Nuuly do. My Haverdash items did not come in a reusable bag like Rent the Runway and Nuuly and I had to go to the post office to return them. All these points help to explain the low price of Haverdash.

As with Rent the Runway, you will be charged for a replacement item if it is seriously damaged, lost or stolen with Haverdash. You are not charged for normal wear and tear.

If you’re on a tight budget and like getting that many items each month (provided you’re willing to go to the post office every time to exchange them), go for Haverdash. Personally, I’m too busy for that, but it’s still nice to have the option, and I’ve had no issues with the service.


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