Rent the Runway is making a big push to get into everyday dressing.
After launching its monthly subscription service for sportswear and accessories last year in a limited beta mode, “Unlimited” is available to all of the site’s five million members. Since last March, 4,000 members were able to rent apparel and accessories from 350 brands and designers.
Jennifer Hyman, cofounder and chief executive officer, said the company added close to 100 new brands over the past year, including Vince, Tory Burch, Saloni, Jason Wu, Marni and Kaufman Franco. In the next month, Prabal Gurung will hit the site.
For $139 a month, members can rent up to three items at a time and keep each piece for as long or little as they want. That means a consumer can keep a particular blazer for three weeks and swap out the dresses she wants to wear with it several times over the same period. The service originally launched for $99 a month last March.
A corresponding Unlimited portion of the Rent the Runway app will be integrated, as well, which Hyman hopes will “be the next Instagram or Uber that you use every single day.”
“To date, for the first six-and-a-half years, it’s been about changing the way that women get dressed on a Saturday night. It’s the first time we’ve become a daily utility,” said Hyman, who added that the company is on track to reach profitability milestones in 2016. Last year, the site and its four stores rented the equivalent of $1 billion of retail inventory.
She added: “The inventory has gone through a complete makeover. We launched as a 26- and 29-year-old going to a million parties and weddings and galas. Now we’re in a different phase where the clothes we wear every day and on weekends are way more important than what we wear to a party. We’re growing up.”
In addition to her shifting shopping and rental habits, Hyman has been vocal about wanting to change the way that consumers buy. She doesn’t want women to stop shopping; she wants to reduce the amount of fast-fashion they buy. She envisions a wardrobe for the modern woman who invests in basics and uses the Unlimited service to experiment.
If a member finds she is enamored with any of the items she’s rented, there’s an ability to purchase, with a sliding price based on where it is in the season, how new the piece is and how many times it’s been rented. However, Hyman maintained that less than 10 percent of sportswear rentals the past year were purchased. She attributed that to the more editorial look and feel of the clothing.
She projects that Unlimited will comprise 20 percent of all business by year’s end. While the special-occasion portion of the business will continue to grow, she acknowledged that even if the company is doing its best to connect with its member base, “we’re only able to cater to her 25 times per year, at most.”