Why dress rentals could be the future of fashion

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Young businesswomen are breathing new life into your closet, to help keep fast fashion out of landfills.

Don’t let clothes collect dust in your closet, try dress rentals instead.

Fashion experts and long-time friends, Julie Kalinowski and Angela Pastor co-founded The Fitzroy Rentals, Canada’s leading dress rental service offering designer and curated collections to fashion lovers across the country.

"The Fitzroy is a magical dream world of dream dresses that is accessible to everybody," said Angela.

"You can rent dresses and gowns for any special occasion from cocktail, more casual, up to a formal black-tie gala...Instead of you housing all these dresses in your closet wastefully and wasting money on them, we're doing that for you," explained Julie.

By ordering online or visiting their studio located in downtown Toronto, Ont., clients can rent casual and formal designer outfits for a fraction of the price of purchasing, for a select amount of days.

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Instead of letting clothes collect dust in your closet, try dress rentals instead (Jordyn Read)

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The Fitzroy began as a pop-up shop in 2016 and has now grown into a permanent location. But the inspiration behind the rental business was founded years earlier.

"Julie, my partner and I had a retail business for about five years, we didn't feel great about contributing to the buy more, buy new, keep buying narrative," explained Angela.

"There is a lot of waste in the clothing industry, a lot of textile waste going on. We felt like we weren't a part of the solution, we felt like we were a part of the problem selling these pieces," said Julie.

During their time in retail, Julie and Angela noticed that many clients were buying items, ‘for one-time use events.’ This realization sparked a shift in direction - they closed up the retail side of their business in exchange for rentals.

"We haven’t looked back since," said Julie.

Angela and Julie are hoping to change the narrative of clothing waste, by encouraging Canadians to rent items instead of buying.

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Angela Pastor and Julie Kalinowski co-founded The Fitzroy Rentals, Canada’s leading dress rental service (Jordyn Read)

According to a recent study, conducted by The University of Waterloo in collaboration with Seneca College:

Canadians trash about a billion pounds—nearly 500 million kilograms—of fashion and home items made of fabric each year, but a new grading system could help divert most of it from landfills.

As of 2023, fashion consumption in Canada is at an unparalleled high, said Olaf Weber, University Research Chair and professor in the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development at Waterloo.

"Consumers buy, use and dispose of new garments, which end up in the landfill, and less than one per cent of the materials are recycled," explained Weber in a release.

"We genuinely believe that by reusing these garments again and again, by maintaining them and fixing them, we are saving so many people from buying a one-time use piece," said Angela.

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From seamstresses to cleaning services and more - it's all about giving these beautiful dresses, suits, purses and accessories a longer shelf life at The Fitzroy.

It’s all about promoting experiences instead of purchases within your wardrobe and returning the favour to someone else.

"They’re going to weddings, they’re winning awards - they’re going to such happy moments in people’s lives, so we feel they have good energy in them," said Julie.

"People, every year are more so embracing doing something right for the planet, not buying that throw away piece...it's a shift in mindset, but it's shifting quickly," explained Angela.

If you love designer fashion, crave unique clothing items or just want to practice a more sustainable way of wearing clothes, dress rental services like The Fitzroy, could be a perfect fit for you.