Rebecca Taylor is the next contemporary sportswear company to move into the sharing economy. Today, Taylor will launch Rebecca Taylor Rntd, a rental service that allows the brand to serve the customer in a new way by combining traditional ownership and subscription rental.
“With the rising popularity of clothing rental, I was excited by the opportunity to explore this platform as it felt like a natural progression for the brand,” said Janice Sullivan, chief executive officer of Rebecca Taylor. “Rebecca Taylor provides exciting, trend-right, occasion and wear-to-work options which are the strongest-performing categories in rental,” she added.
Caastle’s technology platform will handle all reverse logistics, garment care and shipping.
Rebecca Taylor Rntd will offer such categories as blouses, dresses, pants, sweaters, outerwear and denim. Customers can subscribe for a monthly fee of $159, which will give her access to four prioritized items per shipment. The program allows for unlimited exchanges per month and offers a discounted price for items she wants to purchase. The discount is determined by how many times the item has been rented, as well as a special algorithm. The discounted item will never be lower than the markdown offered in its stores or wholesale accounts.
Sullivan said she became aware of the rental service at a retail conference. “I heard her [Christine Hunsicker, ceo of Caastle] speak at Shoptalk, when she announced the Caastle concept, and it was really intriguing. I went over and talked to her right after she spoke,” said Sullivan.
“This is right up our customers’ alley. A lot of our clothes are occasion,” said Sullivan.
She said the rental service opens the company up to a new customer base, who perhaps couldn’t afford to buy Rebecca Taylor, or buys it on sale. “While Rebecca Taylor is contemporary and most people don’t consider us luxury, for a lot of people, $495 for a blazer is luxury,” she said.
“Because we have a lot of product categories, and cover everything — where to work and suiting, denim, weekend casual and all the way up to things you’d wear to a wedding.…I can see this being very strong in terms of performance,” said Sullivan.
The entire line will be made available to rent. “Some [of the styles] will be more popular than others, but we’ll give them access to the whole closet. Unless we feel there’s an issue where it couldn’t be repeatedly dry-cleaned, and there would be a quality issue, but there are very few of them.” She said there’s a waiver for damages, and Caastle dry-cleans and also does minor repairs.
All the merchandise is housed at Caastle’s distribution center. Taylor owns the inventory, but Caastle gets a whole size set.
Sullivan also noted that customers can rent something from another season, especially if the style is popular. “You have an opportunity to have it become seasonless,” she said.
Access to Rntd is through a link on Taylor’s web site.
Sullivan declined to give a first-year projection. “It will take a while to build and I think it will be a robust business quite soon,” she said. “It’s part of our internal moves to really better serve our customer,” said Sullivan, citing a new initiative called Saturday Services where the Madison Avenue store in New York offers such amenities as manicures, babysitting and barre classes.