I Tried Rent the Runway

Fashion is the second-largest polluting industry in the world, notorious for extreme water pollution, textile waste, overproduction, and many other critical issues. Amongst the recent rise in fast fashion, which further extenuates the industry’s environmental costs and consequences, rental programs such as Rent the Runway (RTR) are promoting a more sustainable approach to getting dressed. 

RTR was founded in 2009 under the vision of offering an “unlimited closet” to allow people to more freely express themselves at both a lower budget and carbon footprint – whether for a special look for a big event or rotating day-to-day outfits. The "closet in the cloud" idea enables people to try out different styles, avoid over-packed closets, and reduce fashion waste by renting more and buying less. A few years later, RTR also became a subscription-based company where women can now subscribe monthly to one of RTR's packages to be able to rent up to multiples items at a time from any designer at any price, aspiring to democratize fashion where trying out trends and styles will no longer lead to buyer's remorse after possibly only wearing something twice.

For a college student, not only is storage space an issue but also the number of formal events that add up throughout the semesters. Thus, I was drawn to RTR with hopes of making my wardrobe more compact and environmentally-conscious without needing to completely shun trying new clothes or refreshing my closet. Despite my hesitations about ordering clothes online without knowing the fit in advance, my RTR experience was surprisingly streamlined. After registering for an account, you’ll have access to a wide range of options from cocktail attire to vacation-wear. After selecting an option, you can read through reviews and customer photos to help evaluate, which I found to be extremely helpful in seeing what the clothes looked like on different body shapes and sizes in addition to understanding any overall quirks, complaints, or praises. After selecting and confirming my choices, I received a tracking code and my order came within a few days with no worry or fuss. Overall, I was very satisfied with the experience as well as the quality clothes that I was able to try. The only inconvenient aspect I encountered was that many clothes and accessories were unavailable because they were on loan to other renters, so snagging the dream piece in the correct size definitely takes a matter of luck and timing. However, this issue didn’t significantly deter me from finding pieces I liked, and so I definitely can picture myself using this service again and again in the near future.

For Harvard students, use the discount code “RTRHarvard25” for 25% off Update or a 4 or 8 day rental.