Rent the Runway is giving mothers an opportunity dress their daughters in smaller versions of favorite brands such as Chloe Kids, Fendi Kids, Stella McCartney Kids, Little Marc Jacobs and Marni Kids, among others.
Kids clothing, the fastest-growing apparel sector in the U.S., coupled with the fact that kids grow fast, made a strong case for Rent the Runway to extend the online rental platform’s services to girls’ sizes 3Y to 12Y.
Rent the Runway isn’t the only site thinking about children. Net-a-Porter last week launched a pop-up shop for Chloé Kidswear, and is considering a larger category play.
“Children are constantly growing, so it makes sense for rental, especially, for trend-driven pieces,” said Jennifer Hyman, chief executive officer and co-founder of Rent the Runway. “As the mother of a two-year-old, I feel like I’m constantly buying new clothes for her, and they’re [worn clothes] filled with stains, which makes me not want to invest in those special pieces. Kids are inherently messy.”
However, that doesn’t turn off Hyman at all. “Rent the Runway will handle the dry cleaning, shipping and insurance,” she said. “We run the largest dry cleaning operation in the world. We’ve become experts on how to restore clothes to perfect condition.”
According to Hyman, Rent the Runway Kids represents the industry’s first extension into an alternative to ownership for children. The new offering will function as an extension to the current monthly subscription services, Unlimited and Reserve, which allow members to rent up to four pieces of clothing and accessories at a time for a set fee.
With an initial launch catering to girls’ sizes 3Y to 12Y, the platform will have built-in flexibility to add more than four items per rental order, which is perfect for Mommy-and-Me dressing for special occasions or for every day.
Hyman said customers aren’t using their subscriptions simply for special events, but rather, for their daily lives. “They’re putting their full wardrobes on rotation and having that freedom. For the first six years of our business, we only offered the ability to rent for special occasions. Three years ago, we offered a full closet for every occasion in your life,” she said.
Rent the Runway recently closed on a $125 million round of Series F funding led by Franklin Templeton Investments and Bain Capital Ventures, bringing the total raised in venture funding to $337 million. The latest round values the company at $1 billion.
“One of the things we’re using the money in the round for is assortment,” Hyman said. “We want to run the unlimited closet not just for women, but for kids.
“Children’s wear is a $6 billion industry,” Hyman said. “We know it’s a big and growing market. There are designers in this space and it’s becoming more fashion-forward. Designers are open to expanding their business. We’re talking to them about that.”
Kids’ rentals range from $30 to $125 without a subscription. “We’re starting out with more fun and special pieces, but it’s going to expand to more casual wear. And you always have the option to buy items,” said Hyman.