“Next week, we are debuting a new membership structure that offers more customization and introduces some of our members’ most-requested features,” Rent the Runway cofounder and chief executive officer Jennifer Hyman wrote in an open letter Thursday. “The goal of our new membership structure is to provide customers with a flexible plan that can adapt seamlessly to their changing lifestyles, needs and budgets.”
Under the revised system, shoppers can choose between the four, eight or 16 pieces-a-month plan for $89, $135 and $199 a month, respectively. The four- and eight-item plans also offer one or two swaps, or exchanges if the shopper doesn’t like what he or she ordered, each month. Extra items can be added to orders à la carte for an additional fee.
“This means we are phasing out the Unlimited Swap plan early next year and will no longer accept new members into that plan as of next week,” Hyman said.
Current shoppers under the unlimited rental option, which is $159 a month, can still use it until sometime in early 2021.
Hyman said even pre-COVID-19, about 70 percent of shoppers under the unlimited program were renting fewer than eight items a month, while just six percent were renting 16 items or more each month.
“With this evolution, the majority of our members will pay less for their membership,” she said.
Rent the Runway, which built a business on sharing designer and high-end goods, has struggled amid the era of social distancing. Just weeks after nonessential retailers were forced to temporarily close stores last March to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Rent the Runway laid off all of its retail associates. And with most events canceled amid quarantine — and people working from home in sweatpants or other casual gear — many loyal Rent the Runway users have put their accounts on hold indefinitely.
The company, which also rents out some home decor items, responded last month, saying it was planning to permanently close all of its brick-and-mortar locations. The physical stores served as a drop-off and pick-up spot for shoppers, while also offering some styling services. Rent the Runway drop-boxes are still available in some locations.
Hyman said the recent round of company changes benefits users. Under the new system, members can create a new shipment before the previous one is returned, leading to faster turnaround times between orders. New Rent the Runway users also get a “do-over,” or a replacement shipment for no additional charge within the first two months of signing up. The updated structure could also potentially consolidate shipments, which Hyman said is “an important next step as we think even more critically about the carbon footprint of subscription rental.”