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Clothing subscriptions and in-store classes to shape 'future of retail’

Fashion available on subscription and store-based educational classes are among the emerging retail trends UK consumers will demand in future, according to a new report from shopping centre owner Westfield.

Yoga class at Lululemon at Westfield London

Yoga class at Lululemon at Westfield London

Yoga class at Lululemon at Westfield London

UK shoppers are ahead of their US counterparts when it comes to embracing new trends, according to the How We Shop Now: What’s Next report.

Of the Londoners surveyed, 40% said they would spend £200 per month on an unlimited clothing rent subscription, compared to 23% of New Yorkers, who said they would spend just $200 per month (£140).

“The driver behind the [pay-as-you-go retail] trend is consumers really valuing the flexibility of selecting an item for just one wear or use,” said Myf Ryan, chief marketing officer at Westfield in the UK and Europe, adding that it was the next step on from the disposable or fast fashion movement of the last few years.

She suggested retailers could offer rental subscriptions in-store to maximise reach and could use rental patterns to inform the next season’s ranges.

“We aren’t going to see a huge shift towards retailers only offering subscription-based models but we believe that retailers will allocate some of their space to hire collections. It could help build loyalty too.”

Ryan cited examples such as the Pimkie’s Mini Fashion Bar, based in a hotel in Antwerp, which allows visitors to rent clothes and accessories appropriate for their trip and pay on check-out. The Westin and Fairmont hotels in the US also allow guests to rent exercise clothes and footwear for a nominal amount too.

She said millennials are the major drivers of the trend, with more than a third (38%) of 25-34-year-olds in London saying they would want to rent clothing or footwear.

The report also found consumers are interested in an educational or experience-based offer within a retail environment, such as health or wellbeing classes, make-up lessons or book clubs.

More than a third (35%) of UK shoppers said they want to learn new lifestyle and creative skills at their favourite store, compared with 32% of US shoppers.

Examples of these include Canadian yoga label Lululemon, which is currently offering yoga classes within its stores, or Nespresso, which opened at Westfield London in December and offers Coffee Connoisseur classes.

A 27-year-old female graphic designer from London said: “If Hollister offered surfing lessons , I would go”, while a 16-year-old female student in London said she was interested in the idea of a retailer teaching her how to make clothes.

Westfield surveyed 13,114 shoppers in London and the US cities of Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and San Diego to identify what consumers wanted the shop of the future to look like. Londoners made up 2,107 of the sample.

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