Dress your child in cashmere for just £6! Now you can, thanks to the new rental services aimed at mini fashionistas. Three discerning little ones put them to the test
- Parents spend an average of £11,000 on items for their children to wear
- My Wardrobe HQ is offering opportunity to hire items for your child’s wardrobe
- Rental garments includes £300 jackets, £250 dresses and £200 sweaters
- Two mothers who live in the UK, test the best premium rental services for kids
As any parent knows, dressing children can be a costly — and wasteful — nightmare. Parents spend an average of £11,000 kitting out their kids, with some items worn only a handful of times before they’re outgrown, ruined or discarded.
But have you ever considered renting, rather than buying, your little one’s clothes?
It’s now possible to hire every single item in your child’s wardrobe and have the clothes delivered directly to your door. You can even borrow designer garments, thanks to a service launched by online rental company My Wardrobe HQ, which includes £300 jackets, £250 dresses and £200 sweaters.
Sarah Rainey and Dinah van Tulleken, with help from their children, 17 month-old Charlie and Lyra three, and baby Sasha, test the best premium rental services for kids. Pictured: Dinah with Lyra and baby Sasha
‘The rental model is especially current now, with pandemic uncertainties and our fears for the environment,’ explains the brand’s creative director, Sadie Mantovani. ‘As well as many people still not keen on going out to shops, lots of us don’t want to accumulate more stuff.’
So could hiring be the solution we mums have been waiting for? With the help of our children, 17-month-old Charlie, Lyra, three, and baby Sasha, we test the best premium rental services for kids.
PERFECT FOR THAT SPECIAL OCCASION
MY WARDROBE HQ KIDS
WHAT IS IT? The little sister of womenswear rental site My Wardrobe HQ, this is the UK’s first designer hire service for children aged 12 months to 12 years.
If you need chic occasion wear for a wedding when they start up again this summer, this is the site for you. Partner brands include Bonpoint, Marie-Chantal, Molo Kids and Gucci Kids, and you can opt to buy garments if your little fashionista can’t bear to let them go.
COST: From £4 a day for dungarees, T-shirts or leggings, up to £10 a day for haute couture dresses.
My Wardrobe HQ is the UK’s first designer hire service for children aged 12 months to 12 years. Pictured: Outfit from My Wardrobe HQ
HOW IT WORKS: Browse the website to choose individual items. The minimum hire term is four days; the maximum 14 days, which you can extend if it’s not reserved by another parent. Anything unworn entitles you to a full refund. A monthly subscription service, allowing a set number of outfit changes, is in the works.
RETURNS & CLEANING: Return the clothes for free using a pre-paid postage label. The My Wardrobe team deals with dry cleaning and disinfecting, using ozone to kill bacteria, sanitise and deodorise each item.
DINAH’S VERDICT: ‘I’ve never had the cash to dress Lyra in designer clothes, but I can now see why people do. The cashmere jumper from Marie-Chantal (RRP £129; to hire £6 per day) felt softer than anything Lyra owns and the cord pinafore dress (RRP £125; to hire £6 per day) with that gorgeous button detailing fitted like a glove. But it won’t for long, which is the joy of just renting it. I’ll definitely use the site now that those special occasions are back in the diary.’
THE PICK AND MIX APPROACH
THE LITTLE LOOP
WHAT IS IT? Chic sustainable clothing rental service, founded by mum-of-two Charlotte Morley, who launched the company while on maternity leave. Customers have access to a Super Closet, stocked with desirable, high-end kids’ brands, from Mini Boden to Frugi and Kite.
The age range is two to five years, so it’s ideal for fast-growing toddlers, and clothes are priced according to their condition: ‘brand spanking new’, ‘gently worn’ or ‘well-loved’.
The Little Loop is a chic sustainable clothing rental service for children aged two to five years. Pictured: Clothes from The Little Loop
COST: £17.50 per month, which entitles renters to 100 ‘credits’ – equivalent to about six to seven items (worth about £165). The price lowers to £15 a month if you commit to six months.
HOW IT WORKS: Subscribe to a price plan to start browsing clothes, then use your credits as you wish.
T-shirts are about 12 credits, dresses are 20 and the fancier items — such as pinafores — around 28 credits.
The company guarantees no bobbling or unrepaired damage, whatever category you choose. If you cause significant damage or lose an item, you’ll have to pay a small additional fee.
RETURNS & CLEANING: Unlike other hire services, you can send clothes back one at a time; although you pay postage.
You can swap clothes for the next size up without using any of your credits or choose different ones if you have credits left.
Dinah said the package of clothes from The Little Loop looked and felt brand new. Pictured: Outfit from The Little Loop
They’re then professionally laundered and steamed to remove bacteria, before being rigorously checked over.
DINAH’S VERDICT: ‘The package of clothes looked and felt brand new — like unwrapping a delivery from a fancy kids’ boutique, except everything was in reusable, sustainable packaging. There’s a lovely mix of special items, such as a smock dress (RRP £32; to hire 18 credits), as well as everyday items, including colourful leggings, striped T-shirts and embroidered dresses.’
QUALITY CLOTHES FOR STYLISH KIDS
WHAT IS IT? Eco-friendly baby and toddler clothes, 0-24 months. Launched in July by fashion expert Jacey James, Qookeee (pronounced ‘cookie’) rents out high-end sustainable brands including Mori, Toby Tiger and Kite Clothing. Items on offer range from dungarees and dresses to coats and pyjamas.
Sarah said Qookeee provides beautifully packaged, super-soft clothes, which are far nicer than anything Charlie owns. Pictured: Sarah and Charlie
COST: A five-item ‘capsule wardrobe’ of key items costs £10 a month, and you can add specific garments — starting at £1.50 each per month. The minimum monthly subscription is £20.
HOW IT WORKS: Clothes are hired on a monthly subscription basis, which you can cancel at any time. You can choose up to 20 items from the website (capsules count as one item) and delivery is free over £30.
Stains, spills and wear and tear are included in the cost. If you, or your little one, lose something, there’s a small replacement fee.
RETURNS & CLEANING: Email the company and they’ll send a pre-paid label to post back unwanted items. Each one is quality-checked, washed, re-checked and then kept sealed ready for the next customer. If it doesn’t reach quality standards, it’s either recycled (sent to a cotton mill which reuses the fibres) or offered for hire as part of a cheaper ‘Love me again’ category.
SARAH’S VERDICT: ‘Beautifully packaged, super-soft clothes, which are far nicer than anything Charlie owns, and they look and feel brand new.
‘The yellow rain jacket (RRP £50) is a stand-out piece; I’d never buy him something so expensive that’ll last only one season, but for £5.50 a month, it’s the perfect spring staple. I just wish it came in an adult size.’
PIONEER OF THE RENTAL TREND
WHAT IS IT? One of the first — and most successful — children’s clothing rental companies, Bundlee was founded by entrepreneurial Londoner Eve Kekeh in 2018.
Described as a ‘revolving wardrobe for your baby’, aged from birth up to two years, there are own-brand organic cotton options designed in-house, as well as garments from leading brands.
Bundlee is described as a ‘revolving wardrobe for your baby’, aged from birth up to two years. Pictured: Clothes from Bundlee
COST: £24 a month for 15 items from the ‘Bundlee Basics’ selection (worth £300) or £39 for a personalised subscription where you can select from premium brands (worth £500).
HOW IT WORKS: Pick your plan from the website and choose a delivery date. Your Bundlee comes in reusable packaging, with a pre-paid returns label and care instructions. The cost includes insurance, so you don’t need to worry about stains or wear and tear. If you notice a hole, simply return the item to be repaired.
RETURNS & CLEANING: Keep the clothes for as long as your baby needs (or fits into!) them — the average is three months — and then return them in the original bag. You can swap an item for the next size up, and pause or cancel your subscription with no hidden costs.
Garments are professionally laundered and disinfected between rentals and if clothes are too worn to be re-rented, they’re broken down and recycled.
SARAH’S VERDICT: ‘It took minutes to request my Bundlee online and it arrived the very next day. Inside was a gorgeous collection of soft, colourful, tasteful clothing that both Charlie and I loved, from printed leggings and slogan jumpers to plainer basics.’
SERVICE WITH PERSONAL TOUCH
BELLES AND BABES
WHAT IS IT? A boutique clothing rental service, founded by mum Emma Gillespie, Belles And Babes offers not only organic baby clothes, but it also has maternity wear for hire. Brands include Baby Mori, Pigeon Organics and Little Green Radicals, from 0-24 months and everything is either new or nearly-new.
Sarah said she was happy with the selection from Belles and Babes, although she wasn’t able to choose any of the items. Pictured: Dungarees from Belles And Babes
COST: £35 a month for a bundle of 18 ‘essential everyday items’, worth up to £400. You can also hire special-occasion items, for babies up to 18 months, for £20 — or one-off garments such as snowsuits, for kids aged up to five, for £35 per season.
There’s also the option of an annual subscription for £390.
HOW IT WORKS: Simply choose your child’s age and gender, and let Emma know if you have any special requests.
For as long as you have your monthly subscription, new bundles will be sent out automatically as your child grows, at three, six and nine months. Wear and tear is included in the price.
RETURNS & CLEANING: If they’re the wrong size, send the clothes back with the pre-paid returns label, and Emma will swap them for the next size. The company deals with laundry and repairs.
SARAH’S VERDICT: ‘Although I wasn’t able to choose any of Charlie’s clothes, I was very happy with the selection I was sent, which included a Mori sleepsuit (RRP £32.50), a knitted Kite romper (£31) and cute Little Green Radicals dungarees (£28). The clothes felt barely worn, were well-made and really suited my fun-loving son.’
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