Rent the Runway made big news last week with the beta launch of a new subscription service for accessories. With Rent the Runway Unlimited, customers pay $75 per month to rent everything from handbags, to sunglasses, to jewelry. The customer gets up to three accessories at a time and can keep them as long as they want, until they are ready to trade in for the other items on their list.
The new section of the website currently features a metallic silver Barbara Bui leather jacket that retails for over $2,300, a nearly $600 Elizabeth and James bag, and $675 Balenciaga sunglasses.
Co-founder and CEO of Rent the Runway, Jennifer Hyman, told WWD that they are aiming to “attack” Zara and H&M, which appeal to the mass market with what she calls fast fashion disposable “junk food.” With Unlimited, customers can enjoy the thrill and high of wearing of on-trend luxury products without breaking the bank. A nice proposition for those weary of spending big bucks on a trend that may not last through next season.
My take: Rent the Runway has been doing a great job of distorting their category. Temporary ownership of luxury goods is not a ground-breaking idea but they’ve been able to successfully increase share of wallet from millions of women. They’ve gone the same way as other successful tech start-ups such as Bonobos, BirchBox and Warby Parker by opening brick and mortar retail stores and now, they seek to capitalize on the subscription business model. Next up, they are planning a brand face-lift that will include more editorial content (Net-a-porter anyone?) and a further push to sell their products permanently via a Try to Buy program. Though they haven’t said so, I imagine international is on their road map as well as a more digitally innovative in-store experience.
Way to use your VC funding well, ladies.
Check out some coverage of the new service around the web:
Rent the Runway’s Next Phase (Women’s Wear Daily)
Rent the Runway Just Announced a Subscription Service (Business Insider)
Like Netflix for your Closet (InStyle)