I can’t count the times I find myself standing in front of my closet, frustratedly thinking that I do not have the right dress to wear for an upcoming important event, whether it’s a wedding, a formal dinner, or such.
Perhaps, Rent the Runway might be the answer to the dilemma. Luxury-goods renting service is not a new concept. Renting on luxury cars, luxury time-share villas, luxury bags, and now: the world of luxury borrowing welcomes Rent to Runway, a company whose business model is similar to that of the bag-renting service. Rather than that exotic-leather bag you’ve been eyeing forever, Rent The Runway offers you the access to luxury pret-a-porter (not exactly haute couture, but still!), the likes of Helmut Lang, Proenza Schouler or Badgley Mischka, at about one-tenth of the price.
How does that work? It’s easy, really. You sign up on their website: www.renttherunway.com. You place a request to rent the dress you fancy, wait several days for it to come by mail, then just wear it fabulously. When you are finished, place the dress on the provided return packaging, and sent it back! That’s it. No dry-cleaning bill, or worrying on how you could recoup the financial dent on your wallet from buying the dress (I write under the assumption that most of us have a limited budget).
The dresses at Rent The Runway rent for about $50 a pop to $200. Seems expensive, huh? Well, not really, if you consider the price tag on that Giambattista Valli black jacquard bow-tie dress is $4,000 (the one on the center).
Then you would probably have questions. How do I know if the dress would fit me? How do I know if one designer’s size 6 is actually another designer’s size 4? What if that taffeta dress would be hideous for my curves?
Fret not. Rent The Runway has stylists available by phone or chat to advise you on many of your concern, including how certain material would cling to your body. They will even include an extra size for the first dress for free. If you are the uber-paranoid type (I am), you could order a second (or third) style together with the first pick, at a discounted price. All order will come with a garment bag, a “Fit Kit” consisting of double-sided tape, bra strap adjusters and deodorant stain removers. The girls of Rent The Runway want to minimize the likelihood of ‘wardrobe emergency’ happening to you.
I am going to leave out any ‘business model analysis’ here, and I will not delve into the discussion on ‘how they would stay in business’, given the rapid turnover of styles. I just want to explicitly say that I find this to be an excellent idea.
I did try doing a simple math on it. Dresses lose value faster than you could say “that’s so last season!”. And no, dresses are not indexed to inflation rate (much worse than that, I should say). Say, you splurge on $500 dress that you probably wear twice (your bestfriend’s wedding two months back, and a gala dinner last weekend). Maybe, you could be able to sell it to a designer consignment store, half price. Try adding the dry cleaning bill (expensive in the US!), and plus, if you put economic value (of which you should always!) into the effort of finding a consignment store that would accept your dress, bargaining with them, and the time wasted for finding a parking spot (sorry, can’t help it). Then, consider a dress of similar value at Rent The Runway would go for about for $50-75. It does make sense more now. Or maybe, I’m just trying to make a sound justification here, because I’ve signed up for their service, and I’m looking forward to be able to use it in the future!