Ever wanted a wardrobe full of show-stopping fashion garments without the heart-stopping price tag? Higher Studio has the answer
Ever fantasised about wearing an incredible Comme des Garçons showpiece or a pristine silk Prada coat (let’s face it: who hasn’t) but couldn’t quite commit to dropping a large amount of cash on them? Well, there’s good news. You can now borrow them from fashion rental company Higher Studio.
The brainchild of designer Sara Arnold, Higher Studio was founded in a bid to put the idle clothes in her wardrobe to good use, while also addressing the issue of sustainability in fashion. The curated edit features new and archival garments from the likes of Junya Watanabe, Maison Martin Margiela and Issey Miyake, and sits in stark contrast to other clothing rental sites. “I know there are a lot of rental companies out there, but, in my mind, there are none that approach design with such a level of authenticity and integrity in their brand choices – and that’s what I wanted to offer,” explains Sara, who studied fashion design at Central Saint Martins. “While I was studying, I thought I wanted my own label. But I was always interested in sustainability and people just weren't talking about it as much in 2012 as they are now,” she continues, “I wanted to know how I could actually have a brand that’s selling stuff, and not compromising on either creativity or the values that were important to me. There didn’t seem to be a way around that.”
Instead of setting up her own label when she graduated from CSM, Arnold enrolled in a business course at Imperial College London, with the intention of getting to grips with running a business: Higher Studio was the result of that. “So many people I know in the industry have these amazing items of clothing sitting in their wardrobes unused and it’s such a shame, they should be worn,” she tells us. “I want to close the loop on clothing production, and renting is so much more sustainable that manufacturing new pieces.”
Higher Studio’s offering will be updated on a regular basis, but the line-up currently includes unforgettable (and hard-to-get-your-hands-on) showpieces like the Comme des Garçons hot-pink cloud top from AW12, and a reconstructed trench coat from Maison Margiela’s SS10 collection – many featured here in a new editorial shot by Dougal MacArthur and styled by Adonis Kentros. Prices start from just £25 per week. “A lot of the items are either super rare or too expensive for many to be able to justify buying, so it’s great to see them getting worn by people that really appreciate them, that’s what I want!” Arnold says.
“A lot of the items are either super rare or too expensive for many to be able to justify buying, so it’s great to see them getting worn by people that really appreciate them, that’s what I want!” – Sara Arnold
Though eventually the plan is to add a line of basic pieces to the edit, for now it’s mainly memorable items from standout collections, “I worked in Dover Street Market for five years when I was studying, and I’m obsessed with Comme. I see our customers as people in the creative industries, maybe a bit of a classic Marni girl, you know? But then when she’s exposed to rental pieces, she’s willing to be much more experimental. Because she doesn’t have to commit to spending huge amounts, it makes the clothes seem so much more approachable and fun.”
Aesthetics aside, Arnold is convinced clothing rental is another step closer to the fashion industry becoming more sustainable: one of her main goals when she first thought up the concept of Higher Studio. “We are facing so many issues in fashions, and I want to address as many as I can, even down to cleaning the rental clothes using special machines that don’t let microplastics get into the water supply,” she says. “I see Higher Studio as the solution to a lot of problems - I really hope it will be.”
With a small edit of amazing pieces and more landing in April, Higher Studio could certainly be the solution to many issues surrounding sustainability: not just when it comes to the planet, but also when it comes to sustaining your bank balance.