Monday, November 16, 2009

Cinderella on a Budget

Remember when Bag Borrow or Steal was launched? To women, that was considered the best thing since sliced bread enabling women all over to sport the latest designer handbags at a fraction of the cost. Many people shun the idea at first, but business has been booming ever since due to the high demand. Then we thought it was only a matter of time before someone would do the same for designer dresses, right? Right! Now that time has come. Now you too can enjoy the finest luxuries of life. Ladies, I introduce to you Rent The Runway.

Rent The Runway, or RTR for short, is a mail order service that allows women to rent dresses from high end fashion designers such as Herve Leger, Gucci, Christian Siriano and Diane Von Furstenberg for ten percent of what it would cost to purchase in a retail store. Rental prices range from $50 to $200 for a four night loan and they’re delivered directly to your doorstep. Prices include dry cleaning fees and $5 damage insurance. However, renter is responsible to cash out the full price of any item that’s destroyed.

Co-founders Jennifer Hyman (Jenn) and Jennifer Carter Fleiss (Jenny) met as sectionmates at Harvard Business School, where, over frequent girls nights, they became fast friends. During a trip home to New York City, Jenn watched her sister, Becky—an accessories buyer at Bloomingdales, and about as fashion-savvy a girl as there is—struggle over what to wear to an upcoming wedding. She knew she wanted to wear something stunning—Herve Leger, maybe, or Proenza—but her modest salary meant that everything high-end was out of reach. If the Beckys of this world can’t wear a designer dress, Jenn thought, what hope is there for the rest of us? Not to mention the designers themselves: If they’re not able to get their pieces into the hands of young, fashionable women, how could they build their brands?

Several days later Hyman told Fleiss about Becky’s dilemma, and they started creating their fashion mail order company.

Renting is as easy as 1-2-3

First, you browse through their array of A-list designers and find a dress you love. Or even two if you’re unsure!

Then, you schedule a delivery date, and your dress will appear on your doorstep. Next-day and even same-day delivery (if you live in NYC) is available, for last-minute wardrobe crises. And did I mention that they’ll send you a second, back-up size—just to be safe.

Finally after you’re done with the garment, you’d put your dress in their handy pre-paid packaging and drop in the nearest mailbox (they’ll take care of the dry cleaning!).

RTR is a by invitation only service that places a limit on its audience. The founders say that more than 20,000 women have registered for the service so far and the number continues to grow. But you still can sign up to be on the waiting list here.

Leave a comment on this post. wants to know what you think of Rent The Runway's mail order service. Will you sign up and use the service? Will renting designer dresses have a negative impact on the luxury brands? We want to hear from you.

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