Fashion rental marketplace Rent the Runway was hit hard by the pandemic as its subscribers mostly rented clothes for personal events. However, the company survived by cutting costs, renegotiating contracts with suppliers and entering the clothing resale market. Today, the company is expanding that side of its business again, bringing some of its pre-owned items and other exclusives to Amazon in a new partnership with Amazon Fashion.
On Thursday, Amazon announced the launch of the Rent the Runway Amazon Fashion storefront, which will feature a selection of pre-owned fashion items from more than 35 brands in numerous styles. These pre-worn items have been inspected, cleaned and restored, but may have minor imperfections – but nothing that would affect the physical integrity of the garment. Customers will be able to shop items for “weekend wear, work wear, date night wear and seasonal essentials such as sweaters, t-shirts, coats and denim,” Amazon said.
This isn’t the first time Rent the Runway has teamed up with another retailer to help offload its pre-worn items.
The fashion subscription service survived 2020 by partnering with resale marketplace thredUP on a collection of pre-rented designer clothes called “Revive by Rent the Runway” as well as Nordstorm Rack. Last year, Rent the Runway also began working with Saks Off 5th, which also agreed to sell pre-owned Rent the Runway clothing on its site. Additionally, Rent the Runway itself sells pre-worn clothing on its own website to customers who do not have a subscription.
In addition to bringing pre-owned clothing to Amazon, Rent the Runway will also offer a selection of merchandise from its “Design Collective” via Amazon Fashion. These limited-edition fashion collections are created by design talent including names like Thakoon and Peter Som, using Rent the Runway’s proprietary data and insights from its customer base. Other designers include Adam Lippes, Marino Moscone and more, and will offer 1,000 styles in sizes 00-22 (although actual sizes may vary based on availability.)
With this launch, Amazon Fashion will be the first retailer to offer new, unworn Design Collective merchandise, aside from Rent the Runway itself.
Some of Design Collective’s items will also become available through Amazon Prime’s “Try Before You Buy” offer, which allows for at-home try-ons and returns.
The move is another way Rent the Runway is looking to grow in the post-pandemic market. Covid could easily have completely destroyed Rent the Runway’s business – and for a while things looked dire. In 2020, the number of active subscribers of the company fell from 133,000 to 55,000, losses increased and the stock fell. It was just a year after Rent the Runway’s IPO.
To its credit, the company survived Covid and, in its latest earnings, saw a return to growth. In Q3 2022, Rent the Runway beat Wall Street expectations with quarterly revenue of $77.4 million compared to analysts’ expectations of $72.9 million. It increased its active subscribers by 15% compared to the same quarter last year to 134,240 and raised its financial outlook for the year to $293-295 million. (The company says a partnership with Amazon is already factored into these projections).
“Collaborating with Amazon Fashion brings incredible brand awareness to Rent the Runway,” said Jenn Hyman, co-founder and CEO of Rent the Runway, in a statement. “We believe that strategic relationships like this can start a new growth engine for our business. They also demonstrate demand for our products beyond our community and allow more customers to experience exclusive, data-driven fashion from our top designer partners.”
For Amazon, meanwhile, the partnership allows the retail giant to try its hand at another area — fashion resale — without having to invest in launching its own resale marketplace. To date, Amazon has offered a way for consumers to browse select pre-owned goods through its Amazon Renewed page, but this does not include women’s fashion. Instead, it’s a way to buy used consumer electronics, such as phones and smartwatches, plus tools, cameras, gaming gear and other home, kitchen and entertainment items.
She has only minor investments in fashion resale through partners, including Shopbop’s “pre-favorite” edit and What Goes Around Comes Around brand store with Luxury Stores on Amazon, focused on pre-loved handbags, jewelry and accessories, and some designer clothing.
“At Amazon Fashion, we are constantly expanding our range through strategic brand relationships to inspire and delight our customers,” Muge Erdirik Dogan, president of Amazon Fashion, said in a statement. “The Rent the Runway Collection continues to expand our offering of already loved and designer fashions.”
Starting today, customers will be able to browse and shop at the Rent the Runway brand store via amazon.com/stores/renttherunway. Products are eligible for free shipping with Prime and will allow returns through Amazon, not Rent the Runway stores.