Subscription Socks and High-Fashion Rentals

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 4 2013 7:32 AM

Subscription Socks and High-Fashion Rentals

The awesome future.

Screen grab,

When I wrote on Monday about the idea of a future in which cheap delivery turns more and more of the economy into a subscription model, some folks just dismissed it out of hand. Would anyone really want to wear clothing this way?

I think you can actually see that it's already happening. The Wall Street Journal had a story this week about a European company that leases expensive designer clothing on a long-term-ish basis rather than selling it. And Andrew Adam Newman had a piece about sock-of-the-month-club businesses in which people subscribe to have a new pair sent to them each month to keep their sock wardrobe constantly fresh. In other respects the established business Rent the Runway is even closer to what I'm talking about. Most women would like to wear a fancy, expensive dress sometimes, but any fancy, expensive dress you buy will inevitably be sitting in your closet on the vast majority of days. So why not rent the fancy dress, and thus actually be able to afford to wear a fancier dress on that handful of fancy-dress days than would otherwise be possible?


These kind of business models remain a bit niche for now. But if in the future either aerial drones or autonomous delivery vans make ordering some clothing as fast as ordering a pizza, then you'll see an explosion. It'd be a snap to have three dresses drones over to your house so you could try them on. Two would get sent back right away, one you'd wear and send back the next day, and then it's just charged to your card. In the aggregate you might wind up spending slightly more on clothing this way than under a traditional ownership model, but your wardrobe would be much improved and the reduced storage needs at home would bring down your housing costs.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

160 Countries Host Marches to Demand Action on Climate Change


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.