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‘Rent the Runway’ is Making its Comeback

Rent the Runway is making history, going public with its female founder/CEO, COO and CFO. Despite the company’s success, let’s take a look at how they have managed to get through the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The whole concept of Rent the Runway is to rent clothes, wear them, send them back and repeat. Every item that Rent the Runway stocks goes through a process of authentication to ensure that it is in the best shape possible when the customer receives it. From shipping and receiving to cleaning, mending and storing, Rent the Runway has created a logistical operation that fuels the growth of their massive rental business. 

The idea of renting clothing for one-time use is more relevant now than ever, especially in a society where social media pressures us to be photographed every time we go out in a different outfit.

Retail companies were pummeled last year, and Rent the Runway was no exception. The New York-based company was rapidly expanding and had mailrooms at Wall Street firms that were piled high with bags that needed to be returned every Monday. They even introduced a partnership with West Elm for renting “bundles” of pillows and throws, and declared its plan to “create the Amazon Prime of rental.

The spread of COVID-19 halted this momentum, ushering in a period of paranoia around sharing clothes. Rent the Runway, which had previously allowed customers to put their subscriptions on hold for a few months, scrambled to offer an indefinite pause so that customers wouldn’t drop the platform entirely. 

The company has since expanded beyond weekend dress rentals, aiming to offer women a “closet in the cloud” through subscriptions. Rent the Runway has focused on getting customers to pay a monthly subscription fee to access a wide range of apparel, jewellery and bags, with a particular emphasis on trendy workwear. Subscribers can swap their picks several times a month.

Seeing as though the company is active again, it is clear that Rent the Runway is here to break waves in the industry and change the way we view rental fashion.

Sonia Tumkur is currently studying journalism and double minoring in public relations and sociology at Ryerson University. She is interested in all things social and tech and can't live without her daily cup of coffee. In her spare time, you can find her going on a run or exploring Toronto coffee shops.
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