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Rent the Runway is coming to hotels in bid to lure customers

Rent the Runway Inc is bringing its high-end subscription clothing to hotel closets.

[NEW YORK] Rent the Runway Inc is bringing its high-end subscription clothing to hotel closets.

The rental business is entering W Hotels, allowing customers to borrow four outfits during their stay for US$69. To start, the service will be available in four of its locations: Hollywood, Aspen, Miami and Washington DC. Participating guests will be greeted with clothing in their hotel rooms and they can leave it at the front desk upon checkout, letting them lighten up their luggage.

The deal is part of Rent the Runway's efforts to expand its physical network through partnerships, as e-commerce firms vie for customers, each promising the fastest, most customized services. Nordstrom Inc and We Co have already entered the rental economy through tie-ups with Rent the Runway. Drop-boxes, which make it easier for renters to return clothes so they can order new items, are now in 27 Nordstrom stores and 19 WeWork co-working spaces.

Rent the Runway Chief Executive Officer Jennifer Hyman said the deals will make the company's assortment of rental apparel more accessible and introduce the service to new members.

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"This is yet another point of access," Ms Hyman said in an interview. "And certainly, when you show up with a drop-box in a Nordstrom store or in a reservation confirmation email at W Hotels, there are opportunities to introduce the brand to women who haven't seen it before."

Rent the Runway has five full-service stores in four states as well.

Started in 2009 as a way for women to rent dresses for occasions like weddings, Rent the Runway has since expanded to everyday wear through subscriptions that allow members to fill their wardrobes with outfits for the workweek. The start-up is now valued at more than US$1 billion. Yet with growth comes complexity, a lesson the company learned the hard way in September when a supply chain crisis caused by a botched software upgrade disrupted operations for weeks.

Mr Hyman declined to comment on potential future linkups, but said any way to bring the service closer to members is on the table. She hopes to grow her hotel presence as well. W Hotels, owned by Marriott International Inc, has 28 locations in the US.

"We have always launched a pilot first and continued to expand those relationships," she said.



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