Rent The Runway: Your Bottomless Closet
We are all too familiar with the feeling of standing in front of your closet and having nothing to wear. Rent the Runway, founded by workwives Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, attempts to solve that problem by offering a “bottomless closet” with options for every occasion that you can rent for a fraction of the price. You never have to worry about repeating an outfit that’s already been photographed and more importantly, you don’t have to splurge on an outfit that will sit in your closet collecting dust.
Rent the Runway has a few different programs they offer, but I tried Unlimited where women would pay a flat monthly fee ($159 plus tax) to be able to rent any four pieces at a time and swap them in and out as needed. For example, you could rent a bag, a sweater, and a coat at once and then decide to keep the bag for a week, the sweater for a few days, and the coat all season. As the pieces get returned to the warehouse new slots were opened for you to choose something else. You cannot have more than 4 pieces in your possession at a time. The site offered outfits and accessories for casual, work, and evening by a variety of designers.
I tried the service for six months and here are my thoughts on the program.*
What works well:
- Selection of designers/brands within each category
- I was able to experiment without any financial consequences to see what works well for me. I discovered new designers that I plan to buy from in the future.
- Helpful customer reviews and photos
- The most popular items will have plenty of reviews and photos which help make the selection process easier. However, note that new pieces tend to have less reviews initially.
- Fast Shipping
- Given that their warehouse is in Secaucus, New Jersey, shipping within NYC was usually 2-3 days. On a good week,if I returned my items on Monday, it was processed by the warehouse by Tuesday and new slots were opened up for me. I could pick new items on Tuesday and have it delivered by Wednesday or Thursday which gives me enough time to prep for my weekend. Give yourself more time if you live out West as it could take 4-5 days.
- User friendly mobile app
- The app is well designed and easy to navigate. You have the ability to flip through clothes, save them to your favorites, and read the reviews while on the go. It really saves the day when you need to order a new item on the go.
- For $172 (including tax) per month, I would rent about 8-9 pieces and wear about 6-7 of them. A few pieces just didn’t fit well or meet my expectations, but it wasn’t a big deal as they went back to the warehouse right away. If I had to buy these pieces, it would cost me well over $1,000. I believe this service helped me shop less especially for events where I needed a one-time outfit.
What needs improvement:
- Flagship store in NYC
- The flagship store in Manhattan is one of the few brick & mortar locations where you can do a swap instantly. They will take an item and you can walk out with a new one on the same day… that is if you can find something you like in your size. I’ve been to the store in times of crisis and the service tends to be decent but the selection is limited and there are barely any size options.
- Additionally, it’s always a long wait to use a dressing room to try on the clothes. On one particularly chaotic Friday night, a bunch of impatient women resorted to trying on the clothes in the middle of the showroom on top of their clothes- myself included!
- Customer Service
- The customer service offered via phone was very inconsistent. On some days, I could get immediate assistance quickly and on other days it was a never ending game of phone tag. I found some people to be sympathetic of issues I was facing and offer some sort of compensation or solution while others would not at all try to problem solve. This gets to be frustrating.
- Selection of work wear
- Considering I work in financial services, I avoid trendy looks and stick to classic pieces for work. I found the selection of appropriate work wear to be quite limited in this area.
- Selection of outerwear
- There were a ton of leather jacket options but far less peacoats and trenches. I would like to see this category to be expanded for fall/winter.
Overall, I had a positive experience with the service and would recommend it to friends. They even have an option to pause your subscription for months where you don't need to rent any pieces, so I paused for about 5 months. Unlimited really comes in handy for me during bachelorette/ bridal shower / wedding season or before a vacation. I feel like I have great new outfits but at a fraction of the cost and it's more eco-friendly! Give it a try and let me know your thoughts.
*Not a sponsored post. All services were paid for at full price.