Rent the Runway: Rental E-Tailing Superstar

One of the most controversial issues pressing people’s fashion choices is outfit repeating. This ongoing fear is most prevalent in today’s society following the documentation of outfits on social media – nobody wants an outfit posted two times on their Instagram feed. In a recent study by Hubbub, 72% of women consider a dress outdated after one wear; this thought process is keeping fast fashion alive, as well as the emerging new idea of rental fashion. Rent the Runway is fashion’s largest clothing rental service with a valuation of $800 million dollars. Founded by two Harvard MBA students, Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, here is an exploration of this lucrative business model:

“I Don’t Know What to Wear”

Every entrepreneur or student that has taken an entrepreneurship class knows that a good or service being presented to the marketplace must fulfill an unfulfilled need; usually this service or product will provide a problem with a solution. Fleiss recognized one of the most prevalent issues women in the 21st century have: a closet full of clothes and nothing to wear. The want to find a solution to this problem generated Rent the Runway: a service in which women can rent articles of designer clothing at distinctly cheaper prices than retail. After putting this plan to paper Hyman and Fleiss cold emailed Diane von Furstenberg who offered support for the idea. This propelled their confidence in creating a ‘closet in the cloud.’

How Can Consumers Rent the Runway?

As a consumer looking to rent a Gucci cocktail dress or Marc Jacobs shoes, the price is something to be concerned about. This is where Rent the Runway’s business model thrives among millennials. Rent the Runway creates revenue through a subscription service, in which users pay monthly in exchange for the services each corresponding plan provides; this business model is extremely important to millennials who report that 33% are members of at least one subscription service. The two plans Rent the Runway offers is the Unlimited plan for $159 a month which grants unlimited swapping of items with the maximum of four designer goods in possession of the user. The Update plan is $89 a month, this plan allows consumers to rent four items at a time while only swapping their items once a month. They also offer a Reserve option in which a specific item can be reserved for four to eight days (this option is highly recommended for those wanting to dress up for a wedding or special occasion).

How do Designers Rent their Runway?

Rent the Runway has an amalgam of designers, categories, colors, and sizes of women’s apparel on their site. The big question consumers have is: how do they get their designer clothes? To create long-term loyalty with designers their business model ensures they create partnerships with these designers. Rent the Runway gives designers a valuable piece of consumer information in return for these products: consumer purchasing data. This piece of information in obtaining Rent the Runway’s inventory is very interesting, but brilliant in terms of today’s marketing climate. The designers get consumer information about what colors, styles, and fabrics are selling the most on Rent the Runway’s platform; while giving them access to consumers who might never have had the chance to buy a Tory Burch dress through regular retail. In consideration of giving this valuable data back to the designers forecasting team, Rent the Runways gets wholesale pricing, quantity discounts and full size runs of collections.

Rent the Runway took an ordinary problem that every woman faces and turned it into a multi million dollar company. This lucrative business model in junction with fast fashion shows that consumers do not want to be seen (or pictured) wearing the same thing more than once. Therefore, a subscription service with exact dates in place when the service will be provided is crucial for a business model in this “era of subscription services.” Rent the Runway fulfilled a need for consumers as well as succeeded in the business to business realm: they “rent the runway” in clothing and “rent the runway” with consumer data. The women’s apparel industry is ever changing day by day and now women can rent dresses with just as much ease as a man who has been renting his tuxedos since 1865.

Photo Credit: Elements from Altered by Sara Schonmann

A Term is 4 Years. A Design is Timeless.

When I first established my major in college as marketing, I pictured myself selling products to a bunch of like-minded people. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered all the different routes there are under the “marketing” umbrella. Political marketing must be one of the most interesting types of marketing I have heard of. While interesting is a vague word to describe it, I think political marketing just makes sense. Personally, I have only been alive for three presidencies but, the designs of many candidates (even before my time) are iconic.

Legendary logo designer Paul Rand says that a logo’s decree is to be clear, memorable, and distinct. Presidential candidates are essentially being marketed as, “the best for their country” during their campaigns. The campaign and design team have the hardest job which is to market their candidate to the most diverse demographic and psychographic: the American people. Americans come from all different backgrounds, upbringings, identities, etc. therefore a presidential candidate’s design presence must have the same effect on a voter in California as it does in Missouri.

The simplicity of these presidential logos is what makes them stand out, but in the same essence unify their supporters whom could be across the country. Michael Bierut – the creator of Hillary Clinton’s famous “H” logo – received much criticism for the simplicity of his design in a negative light. However, the simplicity of it allowed people from around the country to mimic it (from a kindergartner cutting a paper “H” to chefs preparing “H” dishes). President Donald Trump produced his infamous “Make America Great Again” design imprinted on $3.2 million worth of hats during his campaign. These red colored hats – which signified the color of the Republican party – joined with white Times New Roman font made waves with those who wore them; from Canadians wearing them as a joke to middle America wearing them in support of Trump’s campaign.

The Trump and Clinton race was the most prominent one in my life, but I think it would be remissive of me not to include the “Reagan-Bush ‘84” designs as famous political logos. Ronald Reagan took on a role of political branding that was never seen in politics with the help of PR expert Michael Deaver. Millennials and Gen Z have adapted the Reagan/Bush shirts as their own powerhouse of fashion and typography. Many are using the famous font and typography to input words of their own (in replacement of “Reagan” and “Bush”). The wave of bringing back nostalgic things in fashion and entertainment has not left the Reagan-Bush administration out. When my generation’s children venture out into a wave of classics, I hope the Trump and Clinton logos are put to nostalgic use.

Photo Credit:

America is Engaged with Bridal TV

“Say Yes to the Dress”, “Four Weddings”, and “Bridezillas” are just a tap into the bridal reality show market. The journey down the aisle in 2020 is far from putting on a white dress, getting handed a bouquet of flowers, and saying a few vows. The reality television industry has influenced this special day from the locations of bridal dress shops, industrial sized kitchens perfecting a wedding cake, and even the magical Walt Disney World weddings.

A Walk Down the Dress Aisle Through the Years

The most important dress of a newly engaged person’s life is their wedding dress. This simple white dress that gets worn for approximately five hours is the one of the most crucial parts of a wedding. It is so important there is a fourteen year running television show featuring the trials and tribulations of obtaining such dress. Wedding dresses can attribute their customary feel from Queen Victoria in 1840 – she established the famous white wedding dress. Throughout the early 1900s modesty within wedding dresses was key. Presumably because, getting married in some sort of religious fashion accompanied with the insensitive view of women as property to men led to head to toe coverage being essential.The 1950s saw a spin in bridal gowns with tighter bodices, sweetheart necklines, and ball gowns. Continuing into the mid-late 1900s weddings dresses kept most of their modesty by playing with sleeves, fabrics, and bodices. However, most recently “barely there” dresses in which designers tested the limits of how far they can experiment within a conservative wedding dress. While the wedding dress is still a key player in traditionalism within fashion, designers push barriers to keep up with the trends and cycles of the industry.

Bridal Wear Market Share

Wedding dresses are now being compared to as pieces of luxury art because of the intricacies they showcase, and the wedding dress market share is something that should be showcased too. By 2025 Grand View Research, Inc. has estimated that the bridal wear market will be valued at $87.9 billion dollars – with wedding gowns attributing to 50% of this value. A wedding dress is certainly the most important dress an individual will wear in one’s life. However, I think the infiltration of other people’s bridal dress shopping experience from hit programs such as “Say Yes to the Dress” have brought much value to this industry. Taking a peek into someone else’s private moment, and being exposed to new dresses along the way has added a new sense of fame to the bridal dress shopping phenomenon.

Kleinfield Proposes New Designers

The bridal boutique Kleinfeld’s where “Say Yes to the Dress” is filmed has been known to put bridal designers on the map. One designer in particular is Pnina Tornai who is an Israeli wedding dress designer making over the top wedding dresses leaving her clients confident on the show. The cyclical nature of fashion (in particular wedding dresses) has helped Tornai’s designs tremendously. Prior to getting the call to design for Kleinfield’s, Tornai designed dresses for a bridal shop in Tel Aviv, Israel. However, they deemed her wedding dresses as “too sexy” and were rejected by the bridal shop. This led to a life changing moment as she contacted Kleinfield and asked them to sell her designs; immediately they sold out and were a hit. Pnina Tornai now sees approximately 100 brides per day at Kleinfeld’s helping them to perfect their look for their big day. Her designs feature tight bodices, see through mesh, and extravagant detailing. Without the influence of “Say Yes to the Dress” Tornai’s designs wouldn’t be where they are today. While some elements of her designs may have seemed startling for traditional brides, Pnina Tornai is now a household name in the bridal community.

The most important union of someone’s life is the day they get married. With the most important union comes the need for an important, historic, and monumental dress. In 2020 we see the voyage brides have to go through from the first wedding dress they try on to the one they stand with at the altar. Reality television has influenced society in ways unimaginable; including influencing our marriage to the bridal and wedding industry.

Country Music’s Saddling Up Top Designers

The cowboy boot, cowboy hat, and cowboy inspired suits are trotting down runways and being worn by celebrities. The rise in popularity in western wear in the fashion community attributes to the rapid change in our music and entertainment tastes. Music streaming has gained much traction in the last few years and the genre gaining the most from this technological surge is country music. While country music has a connotation of being outdated and boring it’s streaming statistics say otherwise: country music streams have climbed 22.4% in the months of March 2020 to May 2020 alone.

Segmenting the Country Music Market

Country music has a very rustic old feel that can date back to Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, and many more. However, the demographic of the older generation raised on the roots of country music are not the ones streaming it today on Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Today’s country listeners that are influencing the fashion industry are known as pop country listeners, or a more contemporary country audience. Therefore, the psychographic of the country music industry has changed due to the variety and access the genre has now. An example of this change in the psychographics of country music listeners is the explosion of Lil Nas X’s song “Old Town Road” – the longest #1 on Billboard music chart history. This song allowed for components of rap music to be delivered to the country music market. The new founded diversification within the genre of country music permits it to be more accessible to those not just from the south of the United States – pushing cowboy western wear as far as Czechoslovakian Vogue.

The Country Twang of Fashion

While scrolling through Instagram, one item that caught my attention was a Virgil Abloh Off White Cowboy Boot. The boot is a typical western styled cowboy boot with “For Walking” in bold lettering on the side – an homage to the Nancy Sinatra song. I was shocked to see that such a high profile designer (and the men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton) is creating a piece of fashion that high fashion designers may not have created without the segmentation of the country music market. Grammy winning artist Kacey Musgraves took to the CMA Awards’ carpet with a rhinestoned blouse – closely resembling the structure of a Wrangler button snap shirt – giving it a modern edge while bearing close to her country roots.

The resurgence of Western Wear in a couture way is a trend that I did not see coming. However, the renaissance of this “new country genre” attracts younger users who stream their music. This alters the connotation of what country music used to be – somewhat dull. This contemporary country audience attributes to the psychographic of country music starting to diversify than what it has been; giving designers the chance to pioneer this once uncharted territory in couture fashion. Never would I have though a Versace Medusa emblem would be on a hot pink cowboy hat nevertheless it has: on a red carpet, too.