In 2018 Rent the Runway — the company that transformed the way people think about buying, and owning, designer apparel and accessories — was named the ninth most disruptive company in the world on CNBC’s Disruptor 50 list, joining the ranks of Uber, SpaceX and Airbnb. Now, a decade after its founding, the company is set to upset another major sector: home goods.
Last week the rental clothing company, which has grown to 10 million members andan estimated $100 million in revenue, has announced a partnership with Williams-Sonoma’s West Elm brand to allow subscribers to rent soft home decor, including quilts, blankets, shams and decorative pillows. Items will be available in 26 different “bundles” that range in retail value from $150 to $450 beginning this summer.
Rent the Runway COO Maureen Sullivan is optimistic the partnership with West Elm will blossom and eventually evolve into other areas as consumers’ mindsets shift with the times. “We used to say we think the future is 50 percent rented, 50 percent owned,” said Sullivan. “As our growth accelerates, we say maybe it’s 80 percent rented, 20 percent owned. I think there’s more and more forces at play right now culturally that just make us realize you don’t need to own as much as we all have.”
Founded in 2009 by Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, Rent the Runway has evolved from a designer-dress rental service into a monthly unlimited clothing subscription service that includes RTR Update, where members can rent four items a month for $89, and RTR Unlimited, which allows members to rent four items on constant rotation each month for $159. Through the West Elm partnership, subscribers will now be able to replace one of their items with one of the 26 home decor bundles.
On Monday, Rent the Runway was in Austin to provide a first look at the upcoming Rent the Runway x West Elm home partnership collection. The pop-up event, which was attended by more than a thousand people, wasn’t walking distance from the Austin convention center, the nexus of South by Southwest activity. Nor was it showcasing a celebrity or band, as many of the other packed event spaces in downtown Austin. Instead, the draw was the offer of $80 off two months of RTR unlimited, which will soon include the West Elm products.