Dear Mom and Dad: Why Renting Clothes for Your Millennial Makes Sense

Dear Mom and Dad: Why Renting Clothes for Your Millennial Makes Sense

Do you have a Millennial on your shopping list this Christmas (someone born between 1982 and 2002)?  Well, it might be best if you avoid buying your Millennial clothes, and instead, consider renting them clothes.  I know that sounds kind of insane, especially if you’re doting mother and you’ve spent the better part of the last two decades bearing the responsibility of making sure Timmy had respectable, clean clothes to wear.  Well, I hate to break it to you, but times, they are a changin’! 

Here’s what’s changing, for starters. Your Millennial is in debt and it might be a long climb out.  Second, when your Millennial was growing up you could provide not just for their needs, but also some luxury items, too.  Third, your Millennial lives in a fishbowl, the likes of which you probably can’t really appreciate if you’re their parent.  Fourth, your Millennial is dating – online (gasp!) – and has no interest in getting married any time soon (double gasp!) and the stork won’t be dropping off a baby until Timmy is in his 30s (that is how it works isn’t it?). 

Those four components have shaped your Millennial’s worldview in some significant ways.  With one foot in Generation X (1961-1981) and one foot in Millennial (I was born in January 1982), I’d like to think I have the perspective to know what has been so different for Millennials than Gen X’ers.  So, I’m going to lay out why you should rent clothes for your Millennial instead of buying clothes for your Millennial.   

Income.  Timmy might be a little strapped for cash at the moment thanks to all the school debt.  In fact, the mean student loan balance for 25-year-olds in 2013 was $20,000 (doubled since 2003).  To make matters worse, Millennials are earning 20% less than their parents did.  By now you’ve read all the data about Millennials living at home longer, waiting longer to get married, renting instead of buying when they do eventually move out, etc.  Being saddled with debt is causing your Millennial to rethink all kinds of financial decisions, but income alone isn’t the reason why renting clothes makes more sense than buying.

Luxury.  Millennials have grown up in the golden age of luxury and that has instilled a whole new type of appetite in a generation of young people.  See, the things is, statistically speaking, proverbial Timmy had stuff growing up, so Timmy’s not exactly used to roughing it or doing without.  Look, I’m not saying Timmy wouldn’t appreciate a nice, new jacket from you, but a full closet of clothes just isn’t Timmy’s thing anymore.  It has less to do with his income and his standard of living than it does with his social opportunities, like… 

Fishbowl.  Technology is so second nature to Millennials that a term called “digital native”, which essentially means someone who has never not had technology available to them, has been developed to try to describe the phenomena.  Proof?  41% of Millennials use Facebook every day and 90% of Instagram users are younger than 35.  What does all this mean?  It means Timmy, who isn’t a celebrity by the way, can’t go to a party without 10-15 pictures of him making it to social media before he even gets into his Uber for a ride home.  Young people, who, mind you, are leading the most transparent, over-documented lives ever lived are essentially time stamping their wardrobe multiple times per day.  Some day their grandkids will appreciate this time capsule of style your Millennial is providing, but in the interim the need to turnover their closet is expensive. 

Dating.  Here’s your daily stat overload:  49 Million people have tried online dating and nearly 20% of all marriages started online.  The median marriage age has changed from 23 in the 1970s to 30 years old in the 2010s.  But Bryce, what could all of that possibly have to do with renting clothes instead of owning them?  Glad you asked.  Thank you.  The answer is branding.  This is all about competition people – its about standing out in a crowd, er, in an online profile.  Even if you do meet your potential mate in traditional ways (via friends or at a bar), the first thing they’re going to do when they get home is look up your social footprint to see who your friends are, what your interests are and how you spend your free time.  Your Millennial wants a compelling story to tell their potential love interest and the best way to do that is to demonstrate adventurousness, to have life experiences, to be an exciting mate.      

So what sort of impact has all of this had on your Millennial?    

Do you want to know what Timmy’s new thing is?  Checking boxes.  Timmy loves checking boxes.  But, not just any boxes, experience boxes.  Adventure boxes.  Story telling boxes.  According to Eventbrite, 78% of Millennials would rather spend money on a desirable experience than on a physical product that they want.  One thing I’m certain Millennials have gotten right is the shift from material items to experiential items.  Everything I buy is evaluated from the lens of whether it is contributing to a new experience.  If the answer is no, then it needs to be life sustaining or critical by some other metric.  Life’s too short to fill up your closet or shelves with stuff.

Here’s the deal, your Millennial can’t afford nice things, but is used to them, nearly every article of clothing he wears is posted online, and he wants experiences and adventure to help him stand out above the crowd.  Don’t buy him things he won’t want to wear beyond today.  Enable him to tap into the sharing economy by renting what he needs.  Wear it one time and move on to the next adventure.  With our top-notch apparel, we’ll make his adventures easy and affordable.  His peers won’t believe what a jet-setting world traveler he’s become.  Find us at and we’ll deliver your next experience to you before you even leave the airport.       

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