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Free costume hire service the Attic launches

Theatre designers are joining together to launch a costume hire service that will be run as a collective and give its members free access to clothing for productions.

The Attic is the brainchild of costume designer Sarah Booth, who came up with the idea after she moved house and lost her own loft space, where she had been storing costumes.

Working with other designers, Booth has launched the Attic in a space hired out by Theatre Delicatessen in Canary Wharf.

The collective will ask designers to become members, for a fee of between £85 and £120 a year, after which they will be able to access costumes from the wardrobe.

Booth explained that the Attic would operate from 10am to 6pm, which she said provided longer hours than most costume hires currently offer. The Attic will also have a fitting room, where designers will be able to dress performers for roles.

“Most costume hires offer slots of between two hours a week, and you have to book ahead of time, but there is a much more free and open way to work. And with fittings, so often you have to meet performers before rehearsals, and you don’t get have a rehearsal space, so you end up using foyer space or hiring somewhere expensive. It’s nice to have a room that is always free for that purpose in London,” she said.

Booth also said that the wardrobe would offer more contemporary items of clothing than many other costume hires. She said the organisation would “actively collect” modern pieces of clothing, which usually have to be bought for a production.

“We will be encouraging the second-hand idea first – the hiring of these items – rather than buying them each time you do a show. That’s the idea behind it,” she explained.

Booth also said that there would be flexibility for designers to modify and adapt items they borrow.

She is encouraging companies and designers to donate to the costume hire, and said members would be able to “pass on membership fees in any way they feel appropriate”, such as charging for their own items or asking the companies they are working for to pay the cost.

The Attic launches on February 22 at Deli Studios in London.