Washington State University’s study found that Gen Z is willing to rent clothing to help reduce their waste.

Ting Chi, from the Department of Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Textiles, conducted the study. It provided insight into Gen Z’s buying habits and the possibility of them becoming regular renters of rental apparel. The survey included 362 adults living in the US, who were born between 1997-2002. Respondents expressed potential interest in the growing rental trend.

Ting Chi commented on the university’s website that “the idea is growing in popularity, especially among Gen Z customers. They are interested in sustainable consumption, care about the environment, and will make positive changes to improve the world.”

Five factors were examined that could impact a customer’s decision to rent services. These included attitude, subject norms and perceived consumer effectiveness.

two women laughing and holding a smartphone

The most important factor was ‘perceived environmental protection’. Results showed that consumers who felt that they had an effect on the environment would be more open to renting services. This highlighted the importance to educate about sustainable benefits and peer perceptions of the service.

The benefits of renting clothing were also appreciated by those who consider themselves to be fashion leaders. Fashion leaders wear a lot of clothes because they have short trends that make apparel seem disposable. According to the survey, people understood that renting allows them to access products sooner than others and without having to take responsibility for their own product.

Chi said, “They would receive newer products more often than if they owned an item. They were more inclined to rent clothing services because they wanted more clothes.”

The study found a positive lean toward the more sustainable option of renting, and provided useful tips on reaching the fast-paced Gen Z consumer. Gen Z could become a valuable player in the future rental industry if they are convinced.

Chi said, “We are wasting too many textiles. Americans buy an average of 67 clothes items each year. But how many do they really need? These items are inexpensive, but they can cause serious environmental damage. It is up to us to make an effort to protect the environment. One way to do this is to create a sharing economy.”

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