Clothing Rentals Are Bouncing Back — See How Renting vs. Buying Can Save you Money

Rent the Runway, which pioneered women’s clothing rentals, announced that its business is boming. CEO Jennifer Hyman told The New York Times that the company has seen a 92% increase in subscribers from its low point in May 2020. She added that customers are especially interested in bright colors and bold styles — what the company calls “the new joie de vivre.”

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The company offers one-off rentals and monthly subscription plans. The one-offs are great for people who need a dress for a particular event, and the subscription allows customers to rent several styles for a monthly fee. The savings over buying can be significant. A Rebecca Taylor Zadie Wrap Dress that originally retailed for $495 and is now offered at $198 as a final sale on the Rebecca Taylor website can be rented for four days for $55 on Rent the Runway, or it can be one of four items rented for $69 per month. The Rent the Runway price includes dry cleaning.

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Several other companies tried to launch subscription rental businesses before the pandemic, and now they, too, are coming back. Gap’s Banana Republic offers three items at a time for $75 per month, and Eloquii allows rental customers four items for $79. 

If you like having a large wardrobe of the latest fashions, rental programs can save you a lot of money. In some cases, you can even purchase retired rental items at a steep discount. Rent the Runway, for example, sells its retired clothing through ThredUp, where a Rebecca Taylor dress similar to the one mentioned above sells for $64.95 — a nice deal for someone who will wear the dress more than once.

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About the Author

Ann Logue is a writer specializing in business and finance. Her most recent book is The Complete Idiot’s Guide: Options Trading (Alpha 2016). She lives in Chicago.
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