Rent the Runway

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Rent the Runway
Rent the Runway logo.svg
Type of businessPrivate
Founder(s)Jennifer Hyman
Jennifer Fleiss
Key peopleJennifer Hyman, CEO
RevenueIncrease $100 Million[1]

Rent the Runway is an online service that provides designer dress and accessory rentals. It was started by Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, who launched the company in November 2009. Initially a purely e-commerce company, it later opened brick-and-mortar retail locations in New York City, Chicago, and elsewhere.[2]


In 2008, Hyman and Fleiss met as sectionmates at Harvard Business School. They regularly met up to discuss entrepreneurial ideas, one of which was Rent the Runway.[3]

The company has received approximately $126 million in venture capital from Bain Capital Ventures, Highland Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Condé Nast’s parent company Advance Publications, American Express, and Novel TMT Ventures.[4] As of October 2016, the firm has over 6 million customers, 975 employees, and over 400 designer partners.[5]

In 2015, the company suffered negative press after the departure of several executives such as CTO Camille Fournier and Linda Honan (now of BBDO).[6][7] However, it was reported to have a positive bounce back by the end of 2016 with a Series E venture investment from Fidelity Investments and the launch of new physical retail shops.[8][9] As of March 2019, Rent the Runway received a new round of financing that increased its valuation to the unicorn level of $1 billion.[10]

Business model[edit]

First Physical Location in NYC

Customers can rent one of the firm's designer clothing for a 4- or 8-day period for as low as 10% of the retail price through their traditional platform, RTR Reserve. There are also monthly subscription options that allow items to be shipped either "unlimited" or 4 items per month for a lower cost. Rent the Runway carries apparel in sizes 0 to 22, depending on the designer. Each dress rental includes a back-up size at no additional cost to ensure it fits. Customers can get a second dress style for an additional fee. Rental prices include the dry cleaning and care of the garments.

The company also rents children's clothing, accessories, including jewelry and handbags, and sells “essentials,” including lingerie, tights, shapewear, and cosmetics.

Rent the Runway has physical locations in New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.[11] Customers can visit any of Rent the Runway’s five stores, work with a personal stylist, and either take items directly with them or book dresses and accessories for future events.

The company has the biggest dry cleaning warehouse in the world, processing 2,000 items per hour.[12]

In September 2019, Rent the Runway experienced an 11-day operational glitch and halted service.[13]

Awards and honors[edit]

Rent the Runway was recently named #5 on CNBC's Disruptor 50 2019 list.[14] In 2018 Rent the Runway was listed as #9 on the CNBC Disruptor 50 list. Rent the Runway has been named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies for two consecutive years in 2018 and 2019.[15][16] In 2018 Fast Company recognized RTR Unlimited as a World Changing Idea and The New York State Society for Human Resource Management honored Rent the Runway as one of the best companies to work for in New York State in 2014.[17][18] In 2013, the firm was named one of the 50 companies disrupting the status-quo by CNBC,[19] one of the 10 most innovative fashion companies by Fast Company in 2011,[20] and one of the 50 best websites of 2010 by TIME magazine.[21]

In 2019 Time recognized Rent the Runway's CEO and co-founder, Jennifer Hyman, as one TIME's 100 Most Influential People of 2019.[22] The firm and Hyman were named one of the “12 Most Disruptive Names in Business” in 2013 by Forbes[23] and Hyman was included on Fortune’s “Trailblazers” list of individuals changing the face of business in 2013.[24] Both Hyman and co-founder Jennifer Fleiss have been named Inc. Magazine’s “Top 30 Under 30,” Fortune’s “40 Under 40,”[25] Fast Company’s “Most Influential Women in Technology,”[26] and Fashion Group International’s 14th annual Rising Stars in Retail,[27] by Forbes in 2016 as "Women Entrepreneurs to Watch",[28] and as "The Creatives" on the 2016 Upstart 100.[29]


  1. ^ Henry, Zoë (July 20, 2017). "Rent the Runway Had 6 Million Customers, $100 Million in Revenue. Then the Co-Founder Quit".
  2. ^ "Rent the Runway". Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  3. ^ Black, Tiffany, “Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, Founders of Rent the Runway”, Inc Magazine, July 19, 2010
  4. ^ Rao, Lena, "AmEx Backs The Netflix For Designer Clothes, Rent The Runway", "TechCrunch", March 11, 2013
  5. ^ Moore, Booth, "Rent the Runway heads to Vegas' Cosmopolitan in time for New Year's", "Los Angeles Times", December 17, 2013
  6. ^ Roberts, Daniel, "Exclusive: What’s behind the exodus from Rent the Runway?", "Fortune", Nov 17, 2015
  7. ^ Kosoff, Maya, "Why executives are fleeing $500 million startup Rent the Runway", "Business Insider", November 17, 2015
  8. ^ O'Connor, Clare, "Rent The Runway Raises $60M In Funding As It Rolls Out Retail Stores""Forbes", December 28, 2016
  9. ^ "Rent the Runway pivots away from rough year | PitchBook".
  10. ^ Maheshwari, Sapna (2019-03-21). "Rent the Runway Now Valued at $1 Billion With New Funding". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-09-24.
  11. ^ "Store Location Listing". Rent the Runway.
  12. ^ "Rent the Runway is taking clothes-sharing mainstream". The Economist. 7 June 2018.
  13. ^ "Rent the Runway back online after 11-day tech glitch". October 8, 2019.
  14. ^ staff, CNBC com (2019-05-15). "Rent the Runway 2019 Disruptor 50". Retrieved 2019-09-28.
  15. ^ "The World's Most Innovative Companies 2018: Retail Honorees". Fast Company. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
  16. ^ "The World's Most Innovative Companies 2019: Social Good Honorees". Fast Company. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
  17. ^ Staff, Fast Company (2018-04-09). "The 2018 World Changing Ideas Awards Finalists". Fast Company. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
  18. ^ "Winners of 2014 Best Companies to Work for in New York State Announced", January 6, 2014
  19. ^ "CNBC's Retail Disruptors Revealed", "CNBC", May 13, 2013
  20. ^ Fast Company Staff, "Most Innovative Companies 2011 Top 10 In Fashion", "Fast Company", November 30, 2011
  21. ^ TIME Staff, "50 Best Websites 2010", "TIME", August 25, 2010
  22. ^ "Jennifer Hyman: The 100 Most Influential People of 2019". TIME. Retrieved 2019-09-28.
  23. ^ Carlyle, Erin, "Disruptors", "Forbes"
  24. ^ Fry, Erica, "Trailblazers: 11 People Changing Business", "Fortune", February 8, 2013
  25. ^ Keating, Caitlin, "40 Under 40", "Fortune", October 17, 2012
  26. ^ Evans, Suzy "The Most Influential Women in Technology 2011 - Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss", "Fast Company", January 10, 2011
  27. ^ "14th Annual Rising Star Awards", "FGI Bulletin", 2011
  28. ^ Savchuk, Katia. "From Serena Williams to Katy Perry: Eight Women Entrepreneurs To Watch". Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  29. ^ "The Creatives Upstart". bizjournals. August 18, 2018. Retrieved 2020-12-03.