Australia’s product rental market is catching up to the rest of the world. Here’s how 3 companies are changing the resale landscape.

Australia’s product rental market is catching up to the rest of the world. Here’s how 3 companies are changing the resale landscape.
  • The rental market has been slowly gaining traction in Australia, as consumers shift their mindset and behaviour around renting and resale.
  • Business Insider Australia spoke to three Australian companies about how the circular economy is evolving locally.
  • Younger consumers are increasingly “not looking at ownership,” co-founder of Australian-based rental market Releaseit Peter Krideras said.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Australia is catching up to a global movement of companies using technology to help make it easier to rent.

The sharing economy, where assets owned by members of a network can be temporarily accessed by other members of the network, is predicted to increase in value to a worth of US$335 billion by 2025, up from US$15 billion in 2014. 

The rental market has been slowly gaining traction in Australia, as consumers shift their mindset and behaviour around renting and resale. Business Insider Australia spoke to three Australian companies about how the circular economy is evolving in Australia.


THE ICONIC

In late September, Australian online retailer THE ICONIC announced a partnership with resale platform AirRobe that would let its customers resell, rent, or recycle their clothes.

The new service, it claims, makes it the first-of-its-kind innovation allows customers to seamlessly resell, rent or recycle their preloved fashion items.

The retailer said it wants to make this as easy as possible for its customers, with product descriptions, images, and suggested price all built into the transaction process. 

In the US, Rent the Runway pioneered the circular fashion market, building upon platforms that enabled people to sell their designer clothes second-hand. 

Australian clothing rental platform GlamCorner was the first Australian company to enter the space. Founded in 2012, it expanded its reach this year with a raft of partnerships with department store David Jones, Country Road and cult Australian brand Spell this year. 

Jacquie Fegent-McGeachie, head of sustainability at THE ICONIC, told Business Insider Australia the company’s move toward circular fashion reflected its “laser-focus” on meeting the demands of its customers. 

“We know that many of our shoppers are increasingly looking for ways to reduce their fashion footprint and extend the life cycle of their purchases,” Fegent-McGeachie said.

This was part of the reason the platform was set up to make the ability to rent or resell part of the purchasing process, she said. 

Fegent-McGeachie said while THE ICONIC believed it was innovating with the new service, it was also a sign of how circular fashion practices were becoming more widespread in the industry as Gen Z consumers demand retailers take a proactive approach to integrating sustainability into their company’s practices.


Collecte

Online furniture resale platform Collecte was founded by Mellisa Giuffrida just as the pandemic kicked off in 2020, sparked by the former fashion buyer and interior decorator’s shock at the “amount of replica furniture” on sites like eBay and Facebook Marketplace. 

The platform lets sellers list and sell designer furniture — with the point of difference for both buyers and sellers being that the site verifies the legitimacy of each piece.

The concept was developed after Giuffrida returned to Melbourne after almost a decade in the US and found that there were no automated marketplaces to buy and sell pre-owned, authentic designer furniture.

“I had just been in that space,” Giuffrida told Business Insider Australia, having previously worked at a designer fashion resale platform in the US. 

“I came back and I was like, ‘there’s nothing here’.”

She felt there was a gap in the market to bridge the gap between demand for designer furniture — evidenced by the glut of pieces being sold online — and sellers looking to easily offload stock.

She also strongly felt a swathe of consumers were looking for affordable designer furniture, and were willing to buy secondhand for a more affordable price, but didn’t know where to look. 

“I think as a consumer it’s really hard for you if you want to buy something online,” Giuffrida said. 

“Especially if you go to eBay, or you know, Gumtree, you don’t know whether the items are real or fake.”

Extending the circular economy to furniture was also an important piece in founding the business, with Giuffrida citing that Australians dispose of 50,000 tonnes of “fast furniture” each year. 

While conversations around the waste involved in fast fashion have been going on for several years, Giuffrida said she thinks this should extend to fast furniture, which is just as likely to end up in the landfill.

“People want to be able to go through a marketplace and just know that all the items are authentic compared to some other marketplace where you have to sift through a lot of stuff,” she said. 


ReleaseIt

While marketplaces like Fat Llama in the UK offer a peer-to-peer marketplace for rentals, Peter Krideras, co-founder of Australian-based rental marketplace Releaseit, says his newly-launched company is innovating by bringing companies into the fold. 

The rental marketplace, which launched on October 15, brings both individuals and companies into its ecosystem to let them rent out products ranging from accommodation to cars and clothing. 

Krideras, who previously was previously co-founder of online sales site Click Frenzy, told Business Insider Australia he pursued the venture off the back of a growing awareness around the habits of millennials and Gen Z. 

“This demographic is not looking at ownership,” Krideras said. “It’s really about access to a product.”

After securing $3 million in seed funding earlier this year, the company plans to scale up marketing — and expand the number of companies engaging with its platform, in early 2022. 

Krideras thinks the number of companies jumping into the circular economy locally is only going to grow, as businesses develop the strategies and lessons of established enterprises like Uber, AirBnb and Airtasker. 

“There’s a lot of activity happening in the circular economy,” he said.

However in the Australian market this is primarily focused on resale rather than rental, which Krideras said represented a major new opportunity to offer a new monetisation model for brands and companies.

“It was evident to me very early on that there was a business opportunity to bring existing rental businesses into the fold of a community-driven model where you and I can rent stuff to each other and even small businesses could rent stuff to each other,” he said.

Krideras said this new approach will integrate even more companies into the circular economy. 

“We’re confident that this is the first circular economy rental model that’s embracing existing businesses and peer-to-peer.”