I first discovered Rent the Runway about two years ago and back then it only allowed customers to rent items for 4 to 8 days. I remember being jealous of all the people in the US because it’s only available (as of now) for them and browsing through the designer prom photos, wishing I had worn a designer dress for my prom or leaver’s. But now, the company unveiled a subscription service called Unlimited that lets women rent three articles of clothing at a time for $139 a month. They are one of the first startups to see an opportunity in aspirational sharing and allows women to rent designer clothes for a monthly fee, dry cleaning included.
According to the CEO Jennifer Hyman, the goal of this relatively new service is to convince working women that “it makes more sense to spend $1,700 a year on a rotating closet of leased clothing rather than plug the gaps in a wardrobe with purchases from fast-fashion brands that won’t last.” It could be seen as a possible alternative to fast fashion and throwaway purchases.
“closet in the cloud”
– Founder and CEO Jennifer Hyman’s catchphrase for this launch
“Prior to Unlimited, the only way to have constant newness in your wardrobe was via fast fashion,” says Hyman. “Instead of buying junk that’s going to fall apart and be disposable, put an end to shopping for fast fashion, subscribe to designer fashion and buy your basics better.”
The unlimited trend and subscription service actually came up during one of my group’s insights and we combined the two trends to create the travel subscription service idea. You can read more about that HERE and HERE. Mintel’s unlimited trend in particular explores how our Netflix generation has become used to endless access to a lot of products. I’m kinda sad that my group didn’t pick that idea or even the personalized packaging, but maybe there’s still a way for us to incorporate this into style tribes idea. If we can download any song, and watch a show/ movie whenever we’d like and have access over shareable designer clothing, why not scents, too?
I wonder if Rent the Runway will broaden their market and allow delivery worldwide. Imagine how convenient it would be to have a stylish and appropriate (not to mention designer) look arrive just in time for an event and then return it after? Most women nowadays hate being photographed wearing the same clothes over and over again. More and more high end brands are being added to the inventory.
“It’s absolutely transformative—I don’t shop anymore,” she says. “I had this dream at 16 to create the Clueless closet, and we brought it to life. I’ve never been prouder of anything we’ve done.”
“Its more editorial, trend-driven,” explains Hyman. “Use the subscription to add colors, prints and newness.”
Hyman argues that if you can stream any song or watch any television show or film whenever you’d like, why not be able to access any item of clothing, too? “This movement of access over ownership is even stronger today,” she says. “We’re renting basically everything in our lives.”
The company’s plan involves spending zero paid marketing on this, only depending on word-of-mouth, and Hyman added that “all of the women who work around [an Unlimited customer] visually see a billboard for Rent the Runway every day.”
So what do you think? Does the idea of having a never-ending supply of outfits from coveted labels sound appealing to you? Or do you think that since Rent the Runway is not the only fashion subscription service out there, it will take a lot for it to break through? Is there even a need for shareable clothing? I personally like the overall concept and find it a very innovative answer to fast fashion and throwaway purchases, but I don’t know realistically how much I will like wearing a garment that someone has already worn and passed around. And besides if a large amount of people has already worn it, it kind of gets rid of the exclusivity and desirability of the item and brand, for me at least.
UPDATE MAY 24TH 2016 – Thanks to a partnership with Rent the Runway, Conde Nast now offers its employees the benefit of monthly clothing rentals. They will be offering a discounted rate on the Unlimited subscription and let me just say I think this is a brilliant idea. Fashion industry workers aren’t known to have the biggest salaries and I used to wonder how these amazingly-put together people can afford such designer pieces. What if it’s your first job or you’re only starting out? There’s a certain amount of pressure in trying to keep up with your colleagues and I think this makes perfect sense. Plus, who wants to wear the same dress or look a hundred times at the office?! Source