The 10 Best Costume Rental Companies in London (2021)
When we think “London” and “costume,” we probably first think “theatre.” Since the dawn of Shakespeare, London has hosted one of the world’s finest stage scenes, so costume rental is a big industry in The Swinging City. Of course, London is also a major film production location and the home to many a fabulous costume party, so rental companies are busy no matter whether it’s summer stock or the height of the theatrical season. Here’s a list of the 10 best costume rental companies in London in 2021 – known throughout the UK as “fancy dress shops” from which clients “hire.”
To start with the heaviest-hitter, the UK’s National Theatre is London’s go-to source for very high-quality costume rentals. The organization will rent to the general public, not just other theatres, so photographers, television and film studios, and educational institutions can all use the garments, most of which are crafted at the Theatre’s in-house workshop. That is, they can rent them for a price. This is the source of costumes for international symphonies, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and more of the absolute finest productions in the history of the world, so you can assume that you’ll be paying elite prices to borrow these priceless clothes. The National Theatre is at the top of our list of the best costume rental companies in London for a good reason.
Looking for lavish? Fantastical? Want to embody a jungle creature, a steampunk aesthetic, or try out belle epoque? Quest no further than the delightful theatrical costume rental company, Prangsta Costumiers. The facility is founded on four powerful pillars: sustainability, social inclusivity, unhinged creativity, and hyper-local culture. And the quality of their costume craft is nothing shy of exquisite. Prangsta customizes creations specifically for your needs, so they operate by appointment only, and no two designs are the same. According to online reviews and the high business standards Prangsta achieves, they’re most definitely one of the best costume rental companies in London.
One feature that sets Mad World aside is that they hire out costumes that others don’t always have – notably, fruits and vegetables, kids’ costumes, and accessories such as a vast Venetian mask collection. For this reason, Mad World is a go-to supplier for many British television shows and movie studios. They also sell costumes online.
Foxtrot is where to go if you need the best costume rental in London for adult garments of a certain type. The facility is best recognized because it supplies vintage artillery props to studios, but it also rents fabulous costumes to the general public. They specialize in the occupational side of costumery, outfitting those who want to dress as cops, pilots, and lollipop ladies or gents. (Look it up, Yanks! Your Halloween costume is now decided!) Bonus: you can also rent straight jackets, fencing outfits, and jockey silks.
Another high-end costume rental shop, Academy Costumes specializes in well-maintained and restored garments and accessories from throughout the 20th century. It’s not just British productions that source their costumes from Academy – it’s world-renowned and used by individuals and entities everywhere. The owner of Academy broke away from the National Theatre in 1984 and rose to become the best costume rental company in London’s history.
Video production and stage companies use Costume Boutique to hire garments and accessories. Still, it’s perhaps better suited for everyday folks looking to dress up as, say, a genie or a bat or a pirate. Be sure to book well in advance for a Halloween rental costume, as this is one of London’s best-loved fancy dress shops. It’s a welcoming center, and almost all costumes can be customized and mixed and matched for individual creations.
It’s vital to make an appointment to hire a costume from Angels Fancy Dress because each of their designs is “bespoke” and fitted to a client. This method is working quite well since the longstanding company has been in business since 1840, which amounts to seven generations. Over the centuries, Angels has rented costumes to producers of stage, film, music, television, and the fancy general public. You could wear garments from “Dr. Who,” “Titanic,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and so many more famous productions that call upon Angels when they need one of the best costume rental companies in London.
Costume Studio is a hub of costume rentals of sorts with superb customer service. If they don’t have your vision in stock, they can almost always connect you to a local shop that can help you. The specialization is mostly occupational garb such as legal costuming, medical outfits, and day-to-day wear, but they have a ton of other clothing at their avail. Also, this is one of the best fancy dress shops to source wigs. Even though they’re not a wig specialist per se, they have a strong selection of hairpieces and other accessories.
London has one of the largest Indian populations of any city outside of the subcontinent, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the city is home to one of the most substantial collections of Bollywood-style clothing in the world. More than that, they rent wedding attire, which is notoriously pricey to purchase. Renters can go to the store itself or rent online. It’s an ideal way to acquire high-end, culturally appropriate garments that are only temporarily needed.
10. Sands Films
Sands Films is a small production studio best known for period pieces, so it makes sense that they should hire out their costume collection. And what a collection it is. Renting from Sands means you’re working with a team of artisans who clothed Hugh Jackman in “Les Miserables,” Emma Watson and the rest of the cast from the 2019 version of “Little Women,” handfuls of Agatha Christie film actors, and many more. Operating since the 1970s, Sands also has live costuming workshops with some of the world’s most talented milliners, embroiderers, and pattern designers.