Renting clothes in a circular economy

BELGIUM • The textile industry generates 1.2 billion tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually, more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined, according to a report last year by Britain‘s Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Large clothing retailers are also accused of destroying thousands of tonnes of new unsold clothing.

A Belgian start-up, Tale Me, is offering a rental system for reasonably priced clothes for future mothers and young children, providing an alternative to buying expensive clothing that will be banished from the wardrobe after a few months.

The client subscribes online to a package and has a choice of three to five maternity or children‘s clothes (for those up to eight years old) from among the thousands of items available in the Tale Me e-shop. When the monthly subscription expires, the customer returns the rented items and starts over.

Subscription fees remain affordable: from €19 (S$30) for three children‘s articles to €45 for five items of maternity clothing.

There is also a custom subscription option for those who wish to rent more.

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  • Monthly subscription fee in euros (S$30) for three children‘s articles at Tale Me e-shop. For five items of maternity clothing, it is €45. There is a custom subscription option for those who wish to rent more.

    PHOTO: OLIVIER POLET

The risk of a child wearing out the garment or damaging it crossed the mind of founder Anna Balez, a mother of two, who decided to include insurance in the subscription fee.

Founded in 2014, Tale Me now has 2,000 subscribers and employs 15 people. It currently delivers to Belgium, France, Germany, England, the Netherlands and Spain.

All rented items are bought new from independent creators whose products are manufactured in Europe under decent working conditions and from organic or sustainable materials.

Tale Me emphasises that its products do not come from factories mass-producing clothing for big-name brands.