With the future of fashion looking to sustainability, it is no surprise that many fashion entrepreneurs are infusing more sustainable practices into their brands. From research, a great amount of carbon emissions in our world comes from the fashion industry – mainly from the manufacture of new clothes.
To reduce the threats practices in the fashion industry pose to our environment, many fashion designers have turned to alternative methods of doing things. One such alternative method is rented fashion which Rent the Runway practices full time.
Rent the Runway, founded by Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss in November 2009, is an online service that provides designer clothing and accessory rentals. The company was founded with the vision to “make women feel empowered and self-confident every single day.”
The idea for Rent the Runway was birthed when Jennifer Hyman’s sister bought an expensive dress, that sent her into debt, to attend a wedding. At the sight of the dress, Jennifer couldn’t help but wonder “wouldn’t it be so much smarter if we could rent designer items rather than purchase them?” She shared the idea with her friend, Jennifer Fleiss and it kicked off from there.
After testing the waters together, for about a year, they finally launched the brand.
With Rent the Runway, every woman has the opportunity to change up her fashion style as much as she likes and as often as she wants to. Rent the Runway provides a range of clothing items from over 600 brands in different trends, colours, and prints. They provide clothing for almost every occasion – from a grand party to a casual everyday look.
How Does It Work?
Rent the Runway has two plans for users – One-Time Rentals and Renting with Membership.
With the one-time rentals plan, customers can reserve a style for an upcoming event. When a customer places a one-time order, they can request a backup size to be sent along with it to ensure the item fits. They also get to keep the outfit for either 4 days or 8 days.
As soon as the rental period is up, customers are to place the items back in the garment bag they came in and send it back using the prepaid shipping label the item came with. Rent the Runway handles dry cleaning.
Renting with Membership
With this plan, members get to pick 1 from 3 different plans;
- 1 Swap plan at $89 per month.
- 2 Swap plan at $135 per month.
- Unlimited Swap at $159 per month.
Each of these plans has its perks but for each of them, customers get to have only 4 items at a time.
The unlimited plan offers customers the opportunity to change items of clothing in their possession as many times as they like within that one month period the subscription runs for.
For each of the plans, the cost of shipping to and fro is covered by Rent the Runway and members can drop off their items at various locations. Dry cleaning services are also part of the package. For customers that will like to keep an item as theirs, there is a purchase option at a discounted price provided by the company.
Rent the Runway, Sustainability, and Giving Back
Renting clothes means that instead of women having to buy new clothes, they might wear only a few times, they get to rent it and let it go. This, in turn, helps reduce the number of clothes that end up in landfills when thrown away by owners who are tired of them. This is a form of sustainability.
As opposed to using plastic bags, cardboard, and the likes, which are thrown away after one use, Rent the Runway uses patented reusable garment bags. The garment bags which customers are expected to send back to the company when sending their items of clothing back are reused multiple times for clothes packaging.
When items are no longer suitable for rent, instead of throwing them away, Rent the Runway makes them available for sale or donates them to vetted nonprofit organisations to prolong their lifespan. The polybags in which the garments are packaged after dry cleaning are sent to one of their partners, Trex. Trex then recycles them into wood-alternative building and decking materials.
All Rent the Runway garments are made from high-quality materials which means they are built to last and are dry cleaned using biodegradable detergents.
In 2015, Rent the Runway launched the Rent the Runway Foundation. The Rent the Runway Foundation, in partnership with UBS created Project Entrepreneur with the mission to “even the playing field for women in entrepreneurship.”
Project Entrepreneur gives early-stage female founders access to the resources and networks necessary to build scalable and economically impactful companies through programming, a venture competition, and an accelerator.
What is to Learn from Rent the Runway?
For every problem you see out there there is a solution. When you get the solution to your problem, no matter how strange or bizarre it might be, just go ahead and do it. You never know where it can lead you to.