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The MBA Bride | November 20, 2017

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Rent the Wedding Runway: Stylish wedding attire on a budget

Rent The Runway Goes Bridal

When I first got engaged, my father, being the practical man that he is, suggested that I rent my wedding gown. He thought that my mother keeping her dress stored in a box for 30 years in the attic was a waste, and I agree. My mother could have done something else with her wedding gown after her wedding rather than store it in the attic. But, I was appalled at the idea of renting a gown. 

But just the other day, a dear, old friend forwarded me an email from a company called Rent the Runway (RTR). I’ve heard a lot about this company and have even seen some of their business practices in action. Let me tell you, I’m impressed.

The idea of RTR is this: You rent high-end dresses and accessories (high-end = $$$$) for a fraction of the cost, wear the product for a day, then return them to the company. This helps you to justify the cost of high end looks with lower price points. RTR delivers rented products in the specified size, color and design, on or before the date for which you ordered them. According to Rent The Runway’s Terms of Use, each product is thoroughly cleaned and inspected between renters. I also know that they’re not corporately: I’ve seen how flexible they’ve been in one of the clubs I’m in and offered us a discount on their services. It’s human, it’s affordable, and it’s a brilliant business model.

So that email forwarded to me from that old dear friend announced the launch of RTR’s “Wedding Boutique,” where brides-to-be can outfit themselves or guests from head to toe for a fraction of the costs to pull of the same look at retail value. I’m thoroughly impressed that this savvy company is tapping into another market and catering to business-savvy brides to be who are looking for high fashion at low prices. Although the Wedding Boutique doesn’t feature long gowns for bridal rental like my Dad would love, it does have products for rehearsals, brunches, engagement parties, bridal showers, and more.

After reviewing the website, I’ve outlined the benefits and risks of renting a product from RTR in the chart below:

Benefits
Risks
·          Rent for small sliver of the total cost of the dress. I did a quick calculation and the rental for a dress I saw cost about 15% of the retail price of the dress. If your planning to wear this dress only once and do nothing with it after, this is a great solution for you.
·          Each product is delivered to the place of your choosing; if a secure shipping address, RTR promises to get it to you.
·          Additional services including a personal online Stylist who can help you create the look you’re seeking
·          Not fitting right? RTR has a fabulous policy for getting you the right size and will even allow you to rent a second dress
·          Something borrowed: check!
·       If you’re a bride with an imperfect shape (aka 99% of the population), alterations are out of the question. RTR allows for a second size and a backup style if you’re not satisfied with the initial dress you rent.
·       Although RTR cleans each product, they’re may be normal wear and tear that you would prefer to be without on this highly important day.
·       Hold your breath and hope it looks good: there isn’t an option to try out dresses before you rent them. That is, unless you decide to rent the dress just to try on. That’s an expensive try-on.
·       The renter is responsible for loss, destruction or damage to the products due to “theft, mysterious disappearance, fire, major stains or any other cause, other than normal wear and tear” up to the retail cost of the product.
·       Going on your honeymoon soon after the wedding? Make sure you return your rentals before you go. RTR terms allow for 4-8 day rentals. According to those terms, “If you return the Products late or not at all, a late fee of five percent (5%) of the Retail Value will be charged to you every day that you are late on top of the initial rental fee already charged, and you agree to pay such additional fees, up to 200% of the retail.” Translation: you can end up owing double the retail cost of the product you rent if you do not return timely.

Worth noting is that RTR doesn’t position their products/services for bridesmaids. Considering that one user can only rent 4 items at once from RTR, it may be difficult for a bride to consolidate the ordering of bridesmaid dresses from this company. If RTR is truly targeting busy business brides, they should offer increased services around this functionality. Definitely is a future opportunity to grow their business.

Bottom line is this, business-savvy brides: RTR offers great fashion and a fraction of the cost. Yes, there are risks involved, but just like in the business world, in the world of high fashion, you should take some risks.

What are your thoughts on Rent The Runway? Do you have a friend who has used this service? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

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