The New York Times has an article about a new service called Rent the Runway, which boasts of providing $1000 gowns for rent at $50-$200 a pop, and is being hailed as "Netflix for evening gowns." I don't know about you, but I'd rather not have my fashion marketed to me like a DVD, so its a good thing the operating team of Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Carter Fleiss have a few tricks up their sleeveless Hervé Légers.
Here's the Times' version of how it all works: "The rentals run $50 to $200 for a four-night loan and are shipped directly to the customer’s doorstep. After wearing the dress, she puts it into a prepaid envelope and drops it in the mail." Netflix. For clothes.
Some interesting ideas:
My only commentary on this idea is that it is a pretty ballsy play given the customer service issues that are bound to arise when dealing with such volatile components as fashion, logistics, and women. Honestly I hope it works.
- Invitation only. Not a new idea, of course, but even a whiff of exclusivity is huge when it comes to high fashion.
- Service is king. "Customers who want to be extra-safe can choose a second style as a backup, for an additional $25. And all dresses come with a custom garment bag and a 'fit kit,' which includes double-sided tape, bra strap adjusters and deodorant stain removers."
- Insurance. $5 damage insurance and the dryclean fee included in the initial cost. Obviously, the renter bears the cost of complete destruction.
- Styles. Many designers sell their pieces directly to the service, but others provide Rent the Runway with exclusive runway pieces in exchange for the profits. Wearing runway pieces = awesome. Even I know that.
Maybe we'll get something similar going for the gentlemen sometime soon. Seems unlikely, given that most men are fine renting a $200 tux from Gingiss Formal Wear whenever they need one...and rocking a tweed blazer with black slacks, brown shoes, and a disgusting tie should they have a job interview or funeral...but there I go again, ellipses and tangents. Kudos to you Jennifer and Jennifer, and good luck.