Clothing rental service Rent the Runway has opened its first brick and mortar location. Rent the Runway was one of the first fashion rental service, opening its digital doors nine years ago to offer consumers a short-term alternative to spending large sums on items they knew they wouldn’t wear more than once. Rent the Runway identified that from a consumer standpoint, clothing rental is economical when factoring cost per wear, especially on luxury and formal items.
The standalone store, located in downtown San Francisco, allows consumers to try on clothes before renting and returning them. Rent the Runway started as a digital retail platform, and this new location won’t inhibit technological innovation, allowing many of the same conveniences that online shopping offers, such as self-checkout kiosks at the back of the store and a self-return system at the front of the store for a quicker shopping experience.
Rent the Runway had previously inhabited an 1,800 square foot physical retail space in San Francisco’s Neiman Marcus. The rental service opened its doors in Neiman Marcus about two years ago, however Rent the Runway COO Maureen Sullivan explained to the San Francisco Chronicle that their services had grown at 150 percent year-over-year, and therefore needed to grow into a larger space.
Rent the Runway is also offering subscription services in addition to its traditional one-time rental service. With the Unlimited subscription, a member can rent four items in a constant rotation, trading items for a different product as often as they’d like, for 159 USD per month. And the Update subscription allows renters four items for an entire month for 89 USD monthly. These subscriptions currently make up for half of Rent the Runway’s revenue, as reported by Techcrunch.
Researchers from Nottingham Trent University have concluded that clothing rental services are contributing to sustainability in fashion, as such services allow consumers to be less wasteful with their shopping choices. The Nottingham Trent University research looked at a recent survey provided by London’s Westfield shopping center, after which 46 percent of consumers shared that they would return to rental options as a solution to changing trends and sustainability.