Haute Couture, No Postage Necessary
A New York Times piece
equates it with Netflix. Rent the Runway is a new service that allows
women to rent $1,000 haute couture dresses for a fraction of the cost
of buying. When done using the garment, the consumer just puts
the dress back in a supplied envelope and sends it back to the company.
idea behind the company is pretty simple. Make high-end fashion accessible
to a much larger group of consumers at a time when shoppers are looking
to justify purchases both large and small. Rentals run from $50 to $200
for a four-night loaner. The shopper needn’t worry about cleaning the
dress since dry cleaning is included in the price.
a graduate student living in New York is a Rent a Runway customer.
She told the Times, “You
just wear it and drop it back in the mail to them. I don’t spend $2,000
on a dress regularly, so it’s nice to be able to wear some of the more
expensive brands I wouldn’t be able to buy otherwise. And instead of
just buying one or two dresses for this season, I can still have a
lot of things to wear.”
the company has just launched, more than 20,000 women have already
signed up for the service, according to its owners.
Hyman, a co-founder of Rent the Runway, said she got the idea for the
business watching her younger sister trying to decide on what outfit
to buy for a wedding she was attending.
was this young girl who loves fashion and was willing to spend a good
portion of her salary on a dress that she’s only going to wear once
or twice, and I thought, there has to be a solution for this,” Ms. Times.
Roster, an analyst with Gartner, sees the comparison with Netflix but
says the stakes are higher with Rent the Runway. “If my movie doesn’t
come on time, I might be mad, but life goes on. But if my fancy dress
for a big important event doesn’t arrive, that’s a customer service problem
like you’ve never had before.”
Questions: Is the timing and market opportunity right for Rent the
Runway? What are the keys for the company to reach its full potential
as a business?