Would you borrow clothes to wear on your next trip? Ben Southan reviews Japan Airlines’ new apparel rental service for inbound travellers.

Are you travelling to Japan between now and August 2024? Why not try Japan Airlines clothing rental service? “Any Wear, Anywhere” has been inspired by Edo-era lifestyle when everything was reused and recycled based on a “Mottainai Spirit” and designed to reduce the stress of travel by eliminating the need to pack, bring or wash your own clothes… When you fly, it will also lower your carbon footprint (because the lighter the plane the less fuel it burns).

With sustainability in mind, Japan Airlines (JAL) is encouraging passengers to travel with fewer clothes in an effort to cut fuel consumption and CO2 emissions by reducing the weight of cargo carried on the aircraft. But would packing light have such a significant effect on lowering emissions?

JAL estimates that traveling with 10kg less baggage using the “Any Wear, Anywhere” programme (in the case of flying from Tokyo to New York) can see a 7.5kg reduction in CO2 emissions. This is equivalent to not using a hair dryer for 78 days (if you are using it ten minutes per day).Japan Airlines clothing rental © Ben SouthanAs someone who doesn’t use a hairdryer it’s not really a statistic which blows my head off, but an example I came across recently seems to illustrate the point quite effectively:

“In 2018, United Airlines switched to lighter paper. They saved 1 oz per copy. It doesn’t seem like much at all, but it’s 11lb saved for a full flight. You multiply that by a whole fleet, over a single year, and you have saved 170,000 gallons of fuel worth 290,000 dollars. Just a single ounce of paper for each individual in-flight magazine can add the equivalent weight of eight passengers.” [Source: QI]

So whilst this Any Wear initiative seems to have mileage in environmental terms, is it a programme that is fundamentally useful to the individual or are there aspects which require fine-tuning if this is to fly the distance?

The online rental platform is simple and easy to use – you can book online up to two weeks before travel. Just follow the directions on the Any Wear, Anywhere website to browse a selection of rental clothing bundles to suit a range of seasons and occasions.

I like to travel light anyway, but in the interest of field testing the programme I chose the “basic” bundle (three to four tops + two bottoms) from the Spring/Autumn range as I was travelling in late November, and selected the “Casual” option from a choice of Casual, Smart Casual or Mix (Casual and Smart Casual). (This is one of the outfits I was sent.)Japan Airlines clothing rental © Ben SouthanVarious collections of jackets, trousers, shirts and T-shirts are available in a range of colours and sizes, but be aware that UK and Japanese sizing varies, so check your measurements against the recently updated size chart.

It was a bit of a gamble for me as I am tall with broad shoulders but slimmer around the waist which meant I fell within three different categories, M, L, and XL. In the end I opted for Large and hoped for the best.

The clothing was delivered to our hotel in Kurashiki in a black tote bag with customer details attached and a guide to returning the clothes.

All the garments I received were predictably odd. I chose a bundle I had thought would best serve my purposes: Jeans and shirts for day time and some sports wear for any meditation classes or yoga sessions we might be required to attend on the trip. But the jeans were… tiny.

The tracksuit trousers were unpleasantly shiny and synthetic, the jacket was useable, but both shirts were short in the sleeves and tight across the chest. The best fit was the sweatshirt, but it was also bright white with an embroidered red Marvel logo, so not really that super.

Japan Airlines clothing rental © Ben SouthanThat evening I dressed in the jeans, the furry velour sweater and a shirt, threw on the brown jacket with reflective panels and went out to dinner.

After countless courses of soup, dumplings, mushrooms, tempura vegetables, fried tofu, pickles, sushi, aubergine with dark miso dressing and whisky sodas, the shirt had to be removed before it lost its buttons and the polyester velour sweater became a rainforest inside. Mercifully the little jeans were elasticated and so were returned with all their stitching intact.Japan Airlines clothing rental © Ben SouthanReturning the clothes is easy, just pack them into the bag they came in making sure the pink return slip is attached to the bag in its clear pocket and drop the clothes off to your hotel staff as you check out from your designated hotel or return them at the airport allowing you to make use of warm rental clothing until your flight home.

The secondary thrust of the Any Wear trial aims to contribute to sustainability in the fashion industry, claiming that:

  • 7.5 items of clothing per person are not worn in a year
  • 66% of clothing waste ends up in landfill or incinerated
  • 100% of the clothes stocked by Any Wear are either excess inventory or used pieces originally meant to be discarded

I like the premise of the initiative with it’s drive to reuse and recycle, but while they were clean, functional garments, I could not solely depend on them to meet the requirements of my trip abroad. Our choice of clothing is closely linked to our sense of identity and it’s disturbing and uncomfortable to arrive in another country in a different time zone and navigate an unfamiliar culture dressed in somebody else’s clothes.Japan Airlines clothing rental © Ben SouthanIn practical terms its a good idea, but in order to mitigate this waste across several industries there remains the problem of what the individual is prepared to “sacrifice” for the greater good.

If we can find a comfortable middle ground we could see positive change, and for my part I would require a selection of classic, neutral basics where the sizing is reliable with styles which could function across a range of scenarios, ie: business meetings, dinners out, sightseeing or travelling cross-country.

It would be simple to pack any other additional lifestyle necessities such as sports equipment or a couple of key items like a warm jacket and a change of shoes for your trip knowing you can rely on the Any Wear items to be delivered at the other end.


A good idea that could be made better. Japanese companies such as MUJI and UNIQLO create elegant simple clothing that looks smart. If JAL partnered with one of these to provide a range of clothing for air passengers, the core philosophy of re-use could be honoured, and the notion of rental clothing could be made a more appealing, trustworthy and reliable option to consider.


Japan Airlines has twice daily London Heathrow – Tokyo return flights from £962.