Rent The Runway: Disrupting The Business Model

Rent The Runway: Disrupting The Business Model

I have to admit, I am a pretty dress type of woman. I love watching the red carpet more than the awards show, and I would rather invest in quality than quantity. I know that when I plunk down my American Express for the once in a lifetime dress, it’s really just for that occasion, although I readily acknowledge that the chance for me to wear the eggplant Badgley Mischka gown is slim to none outside of the Mardi Gras Ball that I am purchasing it specifically to wear. And, I felt that I “saved” money, even though spending $795 on a $1400 dress is not saving. It is beautiful, and I felt stunning when I was wearing it, and everyone stopped me throughout the evening complimenting me on how beautiful it was. We socialize with the same set of friends, year after year, and our dress up attire is more along the lines of making sure we grab a shower between tennis matches and basketball games on the weekend, so when I get to dress up for an occasion, I want to look great, and not exhausted. Just the other day, I told my husband that I was in the mood to wear it again, so he needed to find some charity function fancy dress party with people we don’t know and didn’t go to the Mardi Gras ball with, so I could wear it again, and this time remember to take a picture!
But for now it hangs, in my big closet filled with beautiful dresses, that I’ve worn once. I’ve assembled quite a collection, and my friends come over to “borrow” when they have special occasions of their own. I also admit that I’ve never “borrowed” a gown from a friend, as they don’t make the same investments in fashion that I do.
Which is why, when a friend of mine forwarded me the link to www.renttherunway.com, I inquisitively clicked on it, and the doves flew out of my computer screen....Dress Salvation!
I love retail. I love technology. I get excited when people transform the typical business model to sell stuff online.
Enter RentTheRunway.com. In case you haven’t heard of it, Rent The Runway is the frugal fashionista’s answer to looking like a million bucks without having to spend it. I know that if I go to the couture department at Nordstrom’s, Saks, or Neiman’s, any dress that I dare to try on is going to look fabulous. And as is my life, the one that I love the most costs the most. However, with RentTheRunway.com, customers can “rent” a beautiful gown, dress, and jewelry for $50-$200, which gives them four days and dry cleaning ($5 for insurance for the god-fearing wine spillage, and $12 for two way shipping). Offering customers designers like my love Badgley Mischka, D&G by Dolce and Gabbana, Escada, Missoni, Herve Leger, Tracy Reese, Vera Wang, and Nicole Miller (to name a few), fashionistas inspired by the Real Housewives can select their dream dress, a second back up dress for the same rental period (for an additional $25), and have “an extra size” in the same dresses to ensure the dress fits (for free!)! Two dresses for the weekend! One for the rehearsal dinner, one for the wedding! And in my Oprah Winfrey approval voice, “Brillant!”
Customers then can also select stylist recommended jewelry, couture handbags, and that back up dress for $25, and purchase undergarments, and complete their transaction. All in, $135.90 for two one hit wonder dresses of designer proportions vs. $750. Love it! I just saved $500!
This is surely a company that is going to experience growth, just by getting the word out. No woman wants people to think she’s renting her dress, or jewelry. And Needless Markup probably doesn’t want to order the same fabulous dresses that Rent The Runway is going to offer up for rent during the same season...but I see explosive growth for this company, all based on disrupting the business model, and by offering a revenue model that works for their customer base.
I’m sharing a really good secret, because, in a way, that’s really got to be one of the key drivers for growth, and I want this company to stick around without having to give it all away.
Love it.
-Jennifer Mooney

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