by Caroline Thomas

Designer dresses make occasions memorable in an indescribable way. Unfortunately, the price tag for such pieces can get high enough to deter fashionistas from indulging.  Cue Rent the Runway’s founders, Harvard business school grads Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, who saw a world increasingly dominated by rental access – from Netflix to luxury rental cars – and decided to incorporate it into fashion.  Rent the Runway revolutionized the market for rental couture by offering the option to look glamorous in high-fashion dresses without the costs of purchasing them.

Photo by Charlotte Jones Photo by Charlotte Jones

What began as an online-only company in 2009 quickly found success among its wide range of customers, appealing to everyone from bridesmaids to homecoming queens.  Following praise from media and business giants like Forbes and TIME, Rent the Runway opened its first physical store in New York City in 2013.  As of now, there are only four Rent the Runway storefronts in the world, the newest of which can be found on our very own M street.

Photo by Charlotte Jones Photo by Charlotte Jones

The Rent the Runway in Georgetown feels straight out of a Princess Diaries-inspired fantasy.  Gold-framed mirrors decorate the exposed brick upstairs, and the velvet couches interspersed between racks of dresses make every customer feel like a celebrity.  The employees are incredibly kind and attentive, offering endless assistance and advice.

For an even more personal shopping experience, Rent the Runway offers one-on-one stylist appointments for prices as equally fabulous and affordable as those of the dresses.  Many cocktail styles can be rented four days for under $75, and the gowns are generally priced between $100 and $150, varying by style and designer.  This is all very impressive, considering rental prices are about ten percent of the retail prices these dresses are normally sold at.

Imagine the scenarios: it’s the day before an event, and your dress rips, or express shipping hasn’t followed through, or you realize with an epiphany that you actually hate the “trendy” outfit you were hoping to pull off.  Your new savior might very well be Rent the Runway’s same-day rental service.  A customer can walk into the store on a Friday afternoon and walk out in twenty minutes with a couture gown to wear that night.

Photo by Charlotte Jones Photo by Charlotte Jones

From formals to Dip Ball, Rent the Runway will no doubt be an incredible option for both long-term planners and frantic procrastinators looking to rock unique, luxurious styles.

Posted by:Thirty Seventh

Georgetown's premier fashion and lifestyle blog.

2 replies on “Couture Shock: Rent the Runway

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