Urban Outfitters Inc to rent out clothing

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The sharing economy is now making its way into the fashion industry as Urban Outfitters looks to rent clothes to younger fashionistas.

The retailer is launching an online subscription service allowing people to borrow six items to wear for a month before swapping them.

The firm says that in terms of clothing, millennials in particular want variety and sustainability.

The womenswear service, called Nuuly, will launch in the US this summer.

Urban Outfitters Inc declined to say if and when it will be offered in the UK, stating: "The brand is looking forward to the opportunity to further evolve and expand both their offering and geographic footprint over time."

The nascent market for online clothing rental is set to grow to $2.5bn by 2023, according to research firm GlobalData.

One of the more well-known firms in this space is Rent the Runway, a New York company which began in 2009, where women can borrow designer clothes for a monthly payment.

Urban Outfitters' chief digital officer David Hayne told the Wall Street Journal that he expects Nuuly to have 50,000 subscribers and generate $50m in sales in its first year.

Urban Outfitters said: "Interest in sharing-economy platforms and recurring subscription relationships has grown across industries.

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Image caption In womenswear, typically only high-end fashion is on offer to rent

"In apparel, the millennial consumer, in particular, is seeking out platforms that provide novelty, variety and breadth, while also supporting sustainability."

As well as Urban Outfitters clothing, people can also pay a monthly fee to borrow womenswear from its other brands including Anthropologie, as well as labels such as Levi's, Gal Meets Glam, Anna Sui and Fila.

Subscribers can choose to buy an item or return all the clothing they borrowed before they receive anything else. The returned garments are washed or dry cleaned and inspected before they are loaned out again.