Merchant Innovation

Rent the Runway CEO Says Unlimited Fashion Is In

If there’s a single trend that’s dominated fashion over the last few years — outside of whatever they’re putting out in Milan these days — it’s fast fashion eating the lunch of traditional brands. However, what if an even more transient apparel experience could replace even the leanest brands?

That’s exactly what Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman hopes will happen with the company’s new Unlimited rental program. In an interview with Re/code, Hyman outlined the particulars of the program. For $139 per month, shoppers can rent three articles of clothing, or three every month for $1,700 per year — though she hinted at different pricing tiers in the future once the program takes off.

But why the confidence that fast fashion is about to crumble under an apparel subscription service? Hyman told Re/code that there are plenty of women out there who would rather spend the money on an Unlimited membership instead of constantly trudging back to the long lines and cramped fitting rooms of the nearest H&M or Zara, all the while trying to keep up with the latest styles.

In fact, Hyman is so confident in Unlimited’s success that Rent the Runway has no plans to allocate any funds for marketing the program, as it hopes the news will spread via word-of-mouth referrals.

“The plan is to spend zero paid marketing on this,” Hyman told Re/code. “We’re not going to need it for years.”

It’s notable that this is the second subscription-type service that Rent the Runway has attempted to get off the ground. In 2014, a program that gave customers a rotating selection of accessories failed to capture many people’s attentions.

Time will only tell if Rent the Runway’s latest plan will find a temporary home in consumers’ closets.


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