Luxury clothing rental company Rent the Runway will continue to expand its brick-and-mortar presence and open a new storefront in Georgetown on Nov. 25. Located just off M Street within Cady’s Alley, the 4,354-square-foot store will be the company’s second, and largest, freestanding store to date.
Since its 2009 establishment by two Harvard Business School students, Rent the Runway has changed the way women approach shopping and luxury brands. The company, which began exclusively online, allows customers to rent designer dresses and accessories at reasonable prices for a 4-day or 8-day period.
Rent the Runway’s new Georgetown location will feature over 1,000 rotating pieces from over 200 designers, including Monique Lhuillier and Badgley Mischka.
Customers will be given the opportunity to book an appointment with a stylist and create a unique look for their event. The store will also continue to incorporate aspects of the “Virtual Closet” experience that Rent the Runway users have come to love: fitting rooms will be equipped with iPad Minis possessing scanning capabilities, allowing customers to rate and save their selections for a later date.
The storefront will add a level of convenience for Washington, D.C. customers now that they can reserve, pick up and return items in-store.
“We have a strong customer base in D.C., and we’ve been hearing from them for years that they’d love to have a place to try on our dresses and accessories in person,” Jennifer Fleiss, co-founder and head of business development, said.
Opening a store in Georgetown was a strategic move for the business since the neighborhood has already developed a reputation as an established destination for luxury brands.
“We were specifically attracted to Georgetown because it’s a high-traffic shopping destination with other brands that align with ours,” Fleiss said. “D.C. women have packed social calendars [and] we look forward to helping them find the perfect look for every event of the season, whether it’s a charity gala, a wedding, homecoming or graduation.”
Rent the Runway has seen significant success in its existing brick-and-mortar store in New York.
“We’ve witnessed substantial increases in our customer base and brand awareness from our [other] stores. We couldn’t have predicted the huge amount of foot traffic we’re seeing at our New York City store in the Flatiron district, our first stand-alone store,” Fleiss said.
The company predicts continued success in its expansion to Georgetown.
“We love that Georgetown feels like a true neighborhood. M Street in particular is both charming and chic, and we are so excited to call it home,” Fleiss said. “With over 200 designers represented in our store inventory, I think we’ll fit right in among the various shopping offerings in Georgetown, from the local boutiques to the big international brands.”
Georgetown students are already expressing their anticipation about the store’s opening.
“I can’t wait,” Laura Galanter (COL ’17) said. “It’ll be great to actually try dresses on before you buy them. It takes away some of the risks or inconveniences of the online store. … I won’t have to guess about sizes or hope that the style looks good on me.”
The convenience of being able to physically see and try on dresses or accessories for an event, instead of waiting for them to be delivered, will undoubtedly attract many new and current customers to the store.
“I think we’re changing the way that women think about their closets. We offer an alternative to fast- fashion destinations, like Zara and H&M, for those who want to experience the thrill of something new as well as the unmatched quality that ‘designer’ implies,” Fleiss said.