John Lewis kick-starts furniture leasing trials as Ganni unveils rental-only collection


John Lewis’ offer will enable shoppers to lease some of its most popular furniture items for three, six of twelve months at a time. It is being hosted in partnership with Fat Llama, the world’s largest online product rental marketplace.

Under the scheme, customers will be able to purchase their furniture at any point, with payments they’ve already made being deducted from the purchase price. However, the idea is to minimise ownership and create a more circular economy for furniture; all returned items are cleaned and refurbished before being rented again.

John Lewis is initially offering the service to customers in Greater London only, given that many residents rent their property and move frequently, therefore minimising their desire to own lots of furniture. If it proves successful, the retailer has said it is willing to “quickly” deliver a broader UK roll-out.

“Attitudes towards renting items and the sharing economy have dramatically shifted in recent years, and we know that renting, reselling items and recycling them is a growing priority for our customers,” John Lewis’ director of home Jonathan Marsh said.

Furniture rental models have also been launched by the likes of Ikea and Fernish and Feather.  

For John Lewis, it is hoped that the launch will have a commercial benefit as well as an environmental benefit. The retailer recently announced plans to close eight stores as a result of Covid-19, in a move which will render up to 1,300 roles redundant.

To coincide with the reopening of its stores after the UK lockdown, Selfridges this week announced a swathe of new pilot services centred around refill, repair and rental. Its rental model is for fashion, expanding on a six-month partnership with online multi-brand rental platform HURR.

Refashioned approach

In related news, luxury fashion brand Ganni has launched a rental-only capsule collection in collaboration with Levi Strauss.

The three-piece collection forms part of the brand’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection and is upcycled, made using vintage Levi’s pieces and repurposed denim offcuts. Ganni describes it as an “ode to the… longevity of Levi’s denim”.

While the final costs of the pieces are yet to be confirmed, there are reports that it will cost around £40 to rent jeans for one week, £90 to rent jeans for one week and £65 to rent a dress for one week. Pieces will be available to shoppers in Denmark, the US and the UK.

Ganni has been offering rentals since 2019, when it launched its own-brand rental service ‘Repeat’ in Denmark. It is also available through platforms like HURR, ByRotation and OnLoan.

Of course, rental alone does not constitute a fully circular economy. Ganni’s latest sustainability report includes a commitment to train all designers and production team members in “circular design principles and design strategies for cyclability”, after it had to repurpose much of its inventory and streamline its upcoming collections as a result of Covid-19 lockdowns.

Join the circular economy conversation at edie’s Earth Overshoot Day webinar

Readers who are interested in finding out how the relationship between business and nature can be transformed to deliver a low-carbon, resource-efficient “new normal” are encouraged to tune into edie’s next webinar, Friday 21 August at 1pm BST. 

Hosted to mark Earth Overshoot Day, the hour-long session is sponsored by Centrica Business Solutions and will see expert speakers from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Toast Ale and DS Smith providing their insight. Full information and free registration can be found here.

Sarah George

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