Banana Republic on Friday announced it will launch an online women's apparel subscription service in the U.S. at the end of September. The service is called Style Passport. There are plans to add men's apparel "at a later date," according to a company press release.
Subscribers to Style Passport will pay a flat monthly fee of $85 and have the option to buy any of the items. The service includes three garments, free priority shipping and laundering services, and unlimited exchanges and returns. Like many apparel retailers that offer such services — including Macy's-owned Bloomingdale's, which this week announced similar plans — Banana Republic has partnered with rental technology platform CaaStle.
In addition to its new rental service, Banana Republic said it will begin offering buy online, pick up in-store this fall.
Consumers' willingness to forgo ownership of apparel in favor of keeping a rotating set of styles in at least part of their closet has spurred several brands to develop rental models. Most consumers in the space are younger, and many see it as a sustainable practice, although the back-and-forth shipping and packaging may undermine that.
"As sustainability continues to become a focal point in the fashion industry, views around second-hand clothing have changed," Edited Market Analyst Kayla Marci told Retail Dive in email. "Businesses such as Rent the Runway and The RealReal have seen success from renting and reusing models. This has caused a halo effect on fast fashion brands like URBN (who own Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie and Free People), who has recently launched their own rental platform called Nuuly."
Banana Republic brand chief Mark Breitbard in a statement Friday noted that, too, and said that Style Passport will also provide the label with a new sales stream. "We're constantly evolving with our customer, meeting her where she is shopping. 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," he said. "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 brand joins a host of others in turning to rental to appeal to new customers, most in partnership with CaaStle, making it an analytics play as well. In addition to Bloomingdale's and Urban Outfitters, for example, Ascena's premium brands Ann Taylor and Loft and mall chain Express have done so for at least a year. American Eagle began a pilot earlier this year. Rent the Runway, which began its service focused on haute couture and special occasion apparel, launched a cheaper service for more casual attire two years ago.