The Mail tests out a new holiday wardrobe rental service in Japan

Hire your entire holiday wardrobe! Tourists can now travel luggage-free to Japan – with rented clothes ready on arrival. Our writer tests it out… and has a few trouser issues

  • Gareth Rubin tests out Japan Airlines’ ‘clever’ new clothes rental service
  • He pays a ‘very reasonable’ £34 to hire a bundle of clothes for 10 days 
  • READ MORE: I’m a train driver – here’s why leaves on the line are a problem

What is wrong with your trousers?’ I’m in a cupboard-sized, six-seater micro-bar in Tokyo. A trendy young woman with bleached hair has stopped pouring me a drink to stare instead at my ankles, which are exposed to the elements.

‘It’s for the environment,’ I explain.

‘The… environment?’

‘Yes,’ I say. ‘To save it.’

She looks back down to my feet and all I can do is smile and outline how and why wearing trousers that are too short for me is somehow good for the planet.

Gareth Rubin tries Japan Airlines’ new clothes rental scheme. He pays a ‘very reasonable’ £34 to hire a holiday wardrobe for his 10-day trip to Japan, which begins in Tokyo (pictured)

It goes something like this: Japan Airlines has just started a clever new service. Instead of taking a suitcase full of clothes with you when you visit the country, it will rent you a full set of tops and trousers/skirts that have been bought either second-hand or from fashion outlets. You need only take underwear and shoes.

A package of the items is waiting for you at your hotel, and you leave them to be picked up when you leave. The cost is a very reasonable £34 for ten days.

There’s some choice. You get to select male or female sets, small, medium, large or XL; how many items you want; and whether they come from the spring/summer or autumn/winter collections. There are kids’ clothes too.

Gareth says that Japan Airlines’ new service ‘benefits the traveller who doesn’t need to haul so much stuff around’

Wrong trousers? Gareth wearing his rented apparel in Tokyo

The service, branded as Any Wear Anywhere (, benefits the traveller who doesn’t need to haul so much stuff around. The airline also saves significantly on the fuel it would otherwise expend carrying one more suitcase per person. And the environment is better off too, as the unused fuel is no longer turned into C02.

At least that’s the theory. The practice seems to be trousers that don’t reach all the way down.

I’m 6ft and medium-large build, so I’ve selected a ‘large’ set, and it’s October, so I’ve gone for autumn/winter. Of my three pairs of trousers, the first out the bag were the felty powder-blue ones that I am wearing but don’t reach my ankles.

I also have a pair of shiny, tight, silver-coloured disco-style trousers that would probably split if I went dancing in them, and a copperish brown pair with peasant-style drawstring at the waist that do, at least, fit me.

I can combine these with a long-sleeved lumberjackish check shirt which is the only top that is not so thick that I boil in the 25c ‘autumn’ weather. The outcome is that I have just one full set of clothes that I can wear without exposing my shins, splitting my seat or fainting from heat.

It must be said that this is not optimal, even if I have, by Any Wear Anywhere’s calculations saved 4.23 kg of carbon emissions on my flights.

Adding to the slight embarrassment is the fact I’m staying in Tokyo’s newest, hippest four-star hotel, the Groove. As the name suggests, it’s a fashionable style hotel (before I check in, I’m sent an information pack on the artist who individually designed my room). And I can’t help but feel a bit self-conscious in my peasant couture as I head down to dinner.

Gareth travels from Tokyo to Hakone, a ‘pretty town sporting a lake (above) replete with boat trips, views of nearby Mount Fuji and hiking trails galore’

But afterwards, for the sake of research, I bite the bullet and pull on the three-quarter length trousers and head for the super-trendy bars of Golden Gai, a district of winding lanes in central Tokyo, where I end up trying to explain all to the bleached-blonde barmaid who rolls her eyes and goes back to pouring imported whisky.

The next day I escape the city heat for nearby Hakone, a pretty town sporting a lake replete with boat trips, views of nearby Mount Fuji and hiking trails galore. I set off on one of the trails, partly because I fancy a bit of cool, fresh air; but also because it means I won’t meet another stranger who will stare at what I’m wearing.

It’s strange how my odd clothes make me want to hide away. At least the ryokan — a traditional Japanese inn — where I’m staying is fitted out for the purpose of keeping guests apart.

In Hakone, Gareth stays at Kinnotake Sengokuhara (pictured), a traditional Japanese inn 

In fact, Kinnotake Sengokuhara feels quite like a Bond villain’s lair — all sleek, silent, dark passages and you actually have to call the front desk when you want to leave your room so they can make sure you don’t see another guest. I take the opportunity of solitude to try on some of the other clothes — there’s the slightly furry green Ralph Lauren top, the too-tight unbranded black polo shirt or the 1970s-style brown velvet button-up shirt with odd detailing across the shoulders. I’m spoilt for choice, really. But they all look bad. Not just bad, in fact. Awful.

So it’s back to the lumberjack shirt and the peasant trousers.

And as the sun sets behind plumes of steam bursting up from the nearby volcano, I assess the new service and the wardrobe it has given me. It’s a great idea, it’s a rubbish outcome.


Return flights from £990pp ( Seven-day rail passes from £275pp ( Doubles at Hotel Groove in Tokyo from £250 B&B ( Suites at the Kinnotake Sengokuhara in Hakone from £1,560 full board ( An eight-day tour with Tokyo pass, transfers, accommodation and local flights from £1,971pp (; full-day ‘discovery tour’ of Hakone with lunch from £205pp.

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