Have you ever had to purchase an expensive, formal dress, only to wear it once, then banish it to the back of your closet for the rest of its life?
Or maybe you’re sneaky – you buy the dress, wear it to your event, and then return it to the store. (While not exactly ethical, a lot of women do this – 14% of women in 2013 admitted to wearing something once then returning it.
But did you know that there’s a better way?
You truly can look like a million bucks without over spending.
Introducing Rent the Runway – a store and ecommerce site where you can rent designer fashions at a discount.
Curious how it works? Keep reading to find out!
It all started in 2008 when two Harvard MBA students – Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss – came up with a brilliant idea. After seeing one of their sisters spend thousands of dollars on a dress for a wedding – a dress that would only be worn once – they thought to themselves, “There must be a better way!”
And that’s how the two Jennifers came up with the idea for Rent the Runway – a company that allows women to rent designer dresses for a specific event at a fraction of what it would cost to actually purchase the dress.
And when you’re only wearing the dress once anyways, doesn’t it make sense to rent and save all that money?
The concept of ‘value over ownership’ was what made Netflix and Spotify popular, so Hyman and Fleiss decided to bring the same idea to the fashion world. Without ever even creating a business plan, they pitched their idea to investors and designers. It was an instant success, and Rent the Runway officially launched in November of 2009.
Through Rent the Runway, consumers have access to over 50,000 dresses and 10,000 accessories – all from over 200 different designers. In 2013, the company expanded into a physical store, and currently has storefronts in Las Vegas, Washington, Chicago and New York, with over 4 million members and counting.
From beginning to end, the process behind Rent the Runway is quick and easy, allowing you to choose the perfect dress for your event in no time at all!
- First, filter dresses by color, length and trend to narrow down your options.
- Decide which dress you want to rent, pick out your accessories (if you want) and then place your order! (They also sell things like tights, lingerie and shape wear in case you need these items to go along with your dress – you can get everything you need, all in one place.)
- Rent the Runway will send you two sizes, just to guarantee you a perfect fit (this is included free of charge).
- Before the dress is sent to you, it is first steamed, pressed and then sealed in a plastic bag, so when it arrives on your doorstep, it will be ready to wear!
- Once you receive the dress, you’ll have it for either a 4 or 8 day time period. Each order comes with a prepaid, pre-addressed package that makes returns a breeze. To protect against accidents, a $5 insurance and dry cleaning fee are included with the rental.
Pretty straightforward and simple right? And the fun doesn’t stop with the process…
When browsing the website, you’ll probably notice the little heart icons next to each dress. When you click on the heart, that item will be saved to your favorites so you can go back and view it later.
And if you want to compare outfits or sort them into categories based on occasion, you can do that too.
You can even earn money towards your rental by telling your friends. When a rental is returned by someone you’ve referred to the website, you’ll receive a $20 credit towards your next purchase.
Buying clothes online can definitely be a nerve wracking experience. What if the dress doesn’t fit quite right? Will you just be stuck with it?
Rent the Runway takes fear out of the equation by doing everything they can to make sure you love your dress, including giving you:
- A backup size free of charge.
- The option to add another dress for a small additional fee.
- Access to an excellent customer service desk that will help you in case your dress doesn’t fit and take care of exchanging your dress in time for your event. (If you live in Las Vegas or New York, they will even send you a new dress via Uber in less than an hour!)
Here are some of the reasons Rent the Runway is unique:
- They have their knowledge of dresses down to a science, plus an analytics team that looks into all the details. Color, fabrics, long vs. short, which designs get returned, which designers are popular, what is hot or not, specific trends for the season – everything is analyzed.
- They feature a lot of young, up-and-coming designers, providing a solid range of hip designs for all ages.
- They recently launched their subscription service – for $99 a month, customers have unlimited access to all accessories and clothing.
- They partner with designers (rather than buying dresses retail) which keeps the prices really low and increases the range of their size inventory.
With such a unique process, simple concept, and generally positive reviews, Rent the Runway seems to be a slam dunk in the fashion world.
And the proof they say is indeed in the pudding. All you have to do is look at Rent the Runway’s amazing results to know they are onto something big. After just a few years in business, the company is valued somewhere between $400 million and $600 million, and has raised $116 million in funding.
So…do you have an event coming up?
Try something new!