Like a runway model, for a mere 30 dollars
Rent the Runway will lend and deliver designer brand clothing to your home, ensuring that the spotlight will focus directly on you.
Before we have a look at the shelves in our wardrobes, let’s focus for a moment on the dull, but meaningful data: each year, the average American gets rid of 37 kilograms of excess clothing filling their wardrobes, quickly replacing it with new clothes.
And Americans are no exception. 100 billion pieces of clothing are produced globally each year, and at the same time, a skipful of unwanted or unneeded clothes is thrown away every second. That is what feeds the fashion industry, which has a global value estimated at two thousand billion dollars, equivalent to half the US annual budget, and two hundred times the Slovenian.
In 2008, former classmates from the Harvard Business School, Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman were trying to figure out how to help their friend not to spend a fortune on a wedding dress that she would wear only once and never again. Soon they came up with an even better plan that would address the consumer within, while at the same time mitigate the negative impact on the environment of discarded clothing.
The very next year, they founded the startup, Rent the Runway, which in under ten years grew from two to 1200 employees, and has a market value currently estimated at 800 million dollars.
Rent the Runway clients can choose from three subscription packages, and the monthly fee will dictate mainly the selection of clothes they can choose from, as well as how frequently they can swap the rented pieces.
The company focuses exclusively on girls interested in high fashion, who want to not only admire the designer brand clothes, but also wear them – for weddings and similar special occasions, parties, holidays, and also at work.
Rent the Runway came to their aid. First, their clients could only rent clothes at their stores in New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, but after a hefty reorganisation, the company expanded its service to cover the entire USA. In 2016, they moved their operations online and began perfecting their model of the subscription economy.
Today, their subscribers can choose from three programmes, RTR Reserve, RTR Update, and RTR Unlimited, and depending on which one they choose, they can rent multiple items per month for a price ranging from a mere 30 to up to 159 dollars a month, for which the sophisticated computer algorithms offer them a selection of over 100,000 items, created by 300 fashion designers.
This does not include prestigious brands such as Armani, Versace, or Vivienne Westwood, but it does feature Rebecca Minkoff, Elizabeth & James, and Cynthia Rowley. In exchange for a monthly fee, they can wear an exquisitely-tailored coat, that would cost 1200 dollars in a regular store, and look like they just stepped off the runway.
The company covers the costs of damage insurance and the cleaning of the clothes, the subscribers just need to be careful to return the rented items on time, or face high penalty charges.
For 89 dollars a month, they receive four items, which can include clothes, jewellery, handbags, or underwear, and the next time, they can pick different pieces, as enabled by the principles of life per month. Subscribers to the most expensive package, RTR unlimited, can also rent four pieces at a time, but they can swap them as often as they like, and have access to a greater range of fashion brands.
Insurance for damages to the fabric and shipping both ways are covered. The cleaning of the clothes is done by the company’s dry-cleaning service, capable of handling 2000 items an hour.
The girls just need to be careful to fold the clothes back in the received packaging, hand it over to the right postal service provider, and not to miss the return deadline. The penalties are substantial, and a careless subscriber could find her bank account lighter by an amount twice the value of the clothes.
But most girls never have this problem. Once you look like a runway model, you make sure you don’t trip.