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Eddie Bauer Launches Outdoor Apparel And Gear Rental Program

The 100-year-old iconic sportswear retailer Eddie Bauer said it is launching a new gear and apparel rental program as a way to give customers the confidence and equipment they need to embrace the growing trend toward outdoor activities.

In announcing the “Rent Your Adventure” program on Wednesday (July 14), the Bellevue, Washington-based retailer said allowing customers to rent items was aimed at eliminating barriers, reducing stress and increasing access.

Through its dedicated rental landing page, would-be adventurers can pick and choose their own basket of goods and then have it delivered anywhere in the contiguous U.S. by FedEx, with a free return shipping label included to easily close out the transaction.

“Through our first rental program, we hope to reach even more people, offering them the gear, apparel, and resources they need to get outside — whether it’s a hike in their local state park or a backpacking trip they’ve been planning all year,” said Eddie Bauer CEO Damien Huang.

Whether it’s a major once-a-year outing or just an attempt to experience something now, the company said its rental program was a way for consumers to try items before committing to a large purchase. The rental program is divided into three categories, including gear, and men’s and women’s apparel, and includes an array of items ranging from rainwear, insulated parkas, ski jackets, boots, tents, sleeping bags, day packs and more.

The New Bauer

The rental program launch is effective immediately and is already up and running as of July 14. That said, the new initiative comes just two months after the retailer and its direct-to-consumer digital business were acquired by SPARC Group, the joint venture between mall owner Simon Property and Authentic Brands Group (ABG) that now owns a portfolio of a half dozen retail brands including Aéropostale, Brooks Brothers, Forever 21, Lucky Brand and Nautica.

In announcing its acquisition of Eddie Bauer in May, ABG CEO Jamie Salter said the brand’s history of “unparalleled authority in the outdoor space” was in line with current changes in consumer leisure activity and taste.

“The global outdoor market opportunity has grown exponentially over the last year and we are ready to hit the ground running and guide this brand into new frontiers in partnership with SPARC,” Salter said.

Although ABG also has separate brands in its stable, such as the estates of Elvis Pressley and Marilyn Monroe, its stake in the multi-branded retail venture accounts for nearly 90 percent of its revenue, the company said earlier this month in filings related to ABG’s upcoming initial public offering (IPO).

The Rental Trend

As much as Eddie Bauer’s new initiative appears to be a logical and timely extension of its core business, it is not alone in the camping and gear rental segment. Not only will Eddie Bauer face stiff existing competition for rentals from rival retailers such as REI, but it will have to compete with a host of digitally-native gear-leasing businesses that have built-up loyal followings for years, including Arrive Outdoors, Xscape Pod and Outdoors Geek.

For its part, Eddie Bauer is touting its century-long pedigree of outfitting adventure-seekers and facilitating expeditions throughout the world, and sees the extension into rentals the next iteration of its commitment to inspire people to be adventurous by making the outdoors more inclusive and accessible.

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