This new group joins existing RTR Design Collective members such as Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, Thakoon and Derek Lam, among others. Through Design Collective, RTR enables the designers to focus on design while RTR takes care of manufacturing and marketing.
“We actually did wholesale with each of these designers and measured the customer demand from these designers,” said Sarah Tam, chief merchant officer at RTR, on the crop of new designers.
When RTR originally started the Design Collective program in fall 2018, Lam, Wu and Gurung were among their highest demanded designers on the site. “Our customers really reacted to the aesthetic and to the designer’s talent, and the whole idea behind Design Collective was to give our customers even further access to these designers and really turn on the data,” Tam said. The program started off with three designers, and today has more than 20 RTR Design Collective partners.
As RTR expanded the program, the company looked at what the designers were known for and tried to fill in for demand. For example, Tam said, Marina Moscone is well known for her beautiful, sophisticated going-out pieces — beautiful tops and dresses. “As our customers are socializing more, especially this year, she was the perfect designer to bring on,” she said.
According to Tam, RTR collaborates with the designer, arms them with data of what’s working and the preferences of customers, based on demographics and what people are gravitating toward. She said the designers design into these preferences.
“We’re also changing fabrics around for longevity to work with our process too,” Tam said. She recalled that when RTR started working with Wu, he was doing these “phenomenal silk chiffons, which were too delicate to work with our dry cleaning process.
“We were able to manufacture with something similar that had great durability which would be better for the life cycle of the garment,” she said.
Each of the designers design between 10 and 15 styles per season as part of a long-term collaboration. Designers like Thakoon, Wu and Lam have been doing it every season. “What they find is they love tapping into our customer, they love the feedback. They get immediate feedback from the customer reviews. The partnership has been really productive,” Tam said.
These new designers will be double-exposed on the site, through their own line and the RTR Design Collective.
Taking RTR’s data, the brands design the collection, and RTR helps pick out the right fabrics and manufactures it, knowing the stitching and the specs that their customers prefer. “In some cases, they look different and they’re new designs. And in some cases, they are designs they’ve showcased in the past, but we’ve tweaked them in the colors and prints and specs that work with our customers,” Tam said.
What RTR customers want to rent is different than what they want to buy, Tam said. “She wants more color and print, and she wants to experiment more. RTR will show them the types of prints that are performing, and those that don’t work. So much of our success is based on color, we have hemlines and necklines that are customers gravitate to,” she said.
The brands get a percentage of every unit that’s produced, and RTR pays them a revenue share on top of that. All items are available for resale to maximize the longevity of the collection.
Among the styles being produced for RTR Design Collective are outerwear, knits, dresses and bottoms. Some brands, like Moscone, will offer dressier items. “We really let them unleash their talent and their vision into the collection, using our data,” Tam said.
Each of the designers work on the collection for about six to nine months.
“We really try to fill in voids where customers are investing,” Tam said. She said they meet with the designers, they approve the designs and do fittings with them. Sizes range from 2 to 16.
The Design Collective styles can be rented through the subscription model, for a special occasion, or purchase through resale. Tam said for spring 2023 they will be adding more designers, such as Rosetta Getty.
As for the big trends she’s seeing for fall, Tam said, “The biggest trend we’re seeing is head-to-toe leather, and eco-leather in shorts, jackets and dresses. We’re seeing bold colors. Also percolating a lot is the equestrian look, and tailoring is back. Jackets, trousers and separates that are a little more tailored and pulled together,” she said.
Overall, she said, “Things are going well. We’re seeing that our customer is still experimenting, she still wants variety in her wardrobe. We’ve seen an uptick, especially in our special occasion business. Our gowns, our cocktails and Night Out are doing extremely well.” She said they started expanding into Night Out with Design Collective. “That trend goes forward into spring 2023,” Tam said.
The Atlein Collective by Parisian designer Antonin Tron features statement leather, draped silhouettes and rich jewel tones. Marina Moscone’s Collective features luxurious fabrics and polished yet playful silhouettes. Toccin x RTR, designed by husband and wife team Alex and Michael Toccin, features silhouettes with statement sleeves, sequins and prints. Ronny Kobo Collection, which will arrive in December, is aimed at the holiday season and will feature bright colors, bold prints and slits.
Moscone told WWD that she already has a strong wholesale partnership with RTR through her runway collection. “The Designer Collective is a modern and expansive opportunity to collaborate by merging the Marina Moscone sensibility with Rent the Runway’s expertise on how to provide accessible designer style, reaching their modern, fashion-savvy customer. As a designer and business owner, I’m always looking for new and innovative ways to reach customers and that’s exactly what RTR does,” Moscone said.
In this collection, she is offering some of her iconic techniques and silhouettes, such as satin twist tunics and dresses in jewel tones, slipdresses in novelty devoré motifs that she hand-drew, and tactile knitwear in hues such as oxblood alpine green, violet and pale gray. She has also designed a black crepe jumpsuit with sheer inset-panel at the neckline.
Whereas normally Moscone produces her own collection in Italy and New York, with RTR Design Collective, she said she provides the designs, color palette and collection inspiration, and RTR works with its manufacturing partners on the execution and production of the garments.
“It’s an honor to work with RTR. We’ve been working with them since the launch of Toccin in September, 2019,” said Michael Toccin, cofounder of Toccin. “We love to work with partners who give us data.”
Toccin created 14 pieces, including a tie-front dress in olive green, a houndstooth set (turtleneck and skirt in tomato and camel), as well as additional dresses, sweaters, cardigans and a tie-dyed babydoll dress. The pieces were created in seasonal colors, and Alex Toccin said the Toccin collection and Toccin x RTR are around the same rental price point on the site, from $30 to $125.
“We love collaborating with them. The quality is beyond gorgeous. The quality is on par to what Toccin stands for and what we create,” said Michael Toccin.
RTR has been showing some promising signs. For the quarter ended July 31, net losses narrowed to $33.9 million from $42.4 million, while revenues rose 64 percent to $76.5 million.
In September, the company said it was laying off 24 percent of its corporate employees in a restructuring intended to make the business more profitable quicker, and ultimately self-sustaining.