Rent the Runway is a New York-based subscription fashion service that powers women to rent designer styles, handbags and jewelry for everyday and occasion.
At about 4:30am the first of thousands of black garment bags arrive by truck at a vast warehouse fewer than ten miles from Lower Manhattan.
The bags brim over with designer dresses and other trendy clothing and accessories. Workers begin inspecting the garments. A billowy, patterned blouse smells a bit musky. A floor-length red gown has a tear. A stain sullies the floral pattern of a silk sundress.
Turnaround is quick. The blouse is sent to washing machines, the gown goes to one of the 75 seamstresses lined up next to a wall of thread, zippers, buttons and other adornments in every imaginable color, and the silk dress makes its way to the “spotters”: experts who know how to get tough stains out of delicate fabrics.
Most items are in and out of the warehouse in less than a day.
Such efficiency is essential for Rent the Runway (RTR), a New York- based, privately-owned startup with a value of almost $800m that rents out clothes, handbags and jewelry.
Hustle day in & day out
Its dry-cleaning warehouse is the world’s biggest, processing 2,000 items per hour. RTR started with formal dresses that women rented for weddings and other events.
Now nearly three-quarters of its 9m clients across America use it for work clothes.
For $159 a month, the company’s “unlimited” and most expensive plan, subscribers can rent four items at any one time.