I am one of those people who can spend as much time thinking about what to do as about what to wear while doing it. Whether the occasion is hosting a dinner party, hiking the Guggenheim Museum’s spiral, or going to the club, it’s an opportunity to put together a look — or was, until most of us stopped doing most things the way we used to. (RIP China Chalet.) Peacocking is a lot less thrilling on Zoom or Skype, and those services’ formats don’t exactly allow for showing off a full outfit. (There’s a reason people wear pajama pants, or no pants, on video calls.) As a city dweller, my love of getting dressed up also comes from being able to window-shop and then, if I like something, to actually shop and try clothes on in front of a mirror to convince myself I need them. The pandemic robbed me of this, too — for awhile, at least.
Earlier this year, as life began to look more normal with each vaccine administered, my daily wardrobe began to show signs of its old self, one garment at a time. Actually, it was a couple garments at a time — from brands like Heron Preston, APC, Gucci, and Noah — delivered to my front door for around the price of my monthly cell-phone bill. No, I didn’t just get really good at shopping on Depop. I signed up for The Rotation, a (streetwear heavy) clothing-rental service that bills itself as a Rent the Runway for people like me. I say people like me because, to the naked eye (of some), my version of dressing up — in, say, a technical Tombogo vest, a pink Carhartt sweatshirt, and tailored Gypsy Sport sweatpants — might look like dressing down. But there are plenty of millennials and Gen-Zers who find certain pieces of streetwear as dressy as a three-piece suit.
For a starting price of $89 a month, The Rotation gives you the opportunity to try on lots of stuff, hang on to any pieces you like, and even buy ones you simply can’t live without at what the company deems a fair market price. The roughly 100 available brands range from blue-chip (Alexander McQueen, Gucci, Supreme) to trendy (Acne, Aime Leon Dore, Off-White), to emerging (Billy Los Angeles, Martine Rose, Usspects), plenty of them Strategist approved (Champion, Levi’s, Nike). According to the service, new items become available every two weeks. Its offerings may be heavy on elevated loungewear, tees, and outerwear, but The Rotation doesn’t just rent streetwear. It also offers trousers, button-down shirts, knitwear, shorts, and other staple garments you could use to fill in a wardrobe, making it worth considering for former shopaholics like me who are looking to ready themselves (and their wardrobe) as they slowly return to normal life.
The entry-level rate of $89 a month allows you to have two garments at any given time; for $129, you can have three; and for $159, you’re allowed four (things you don’t like can be freely exchanged at any point in a rental). While the concept itself may not be novel, anyone who considers buying as much streetwear as I do will recognize the service’s appeal: It lets you wear a lot of trendy, in-season stuff while it actually is in season for a fraction of the cost of buying it (and a fraction of the hassle of buying and returning it). My biggest issue thus far has been with sizing — while pieces from bigger brands are available in sizes small through extra large, some more niche items are only listed in one or two of those sizes. (As someone who usually wears a large or an extra large, I was disappointed to come across cool pieces only to find they weren’t carried in my size.) Swapping a size or garment is obviously more work than it would be in a store’s dressing room, but the service makes it easy enough. When you receive a shipment, it comes with bags and prepaid postage you can use to send pieces back. Everything is done through the USPS, so it typically takes a handful of days for new orders to arrive, and stuff I’ve sent back moves at the same speed. (I’ve never experienced a big enough issue to contact customer service, but should you need to, the website has a chat function in addition to supplying an email address that customers can write to.) Speaking of shipments: All the things I’ve received have arrived freshly dry-cleaned (as the company promises), so I am really the only person who knows they aren’t brand-new.
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