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Rent the Runway drops unlimited rental in overhaul of subscription business

Rent the Runway is introducing a new membership structure as the pandemic continues to impact consumer behavior – particularly when it comes to the clothing people wear. 

The fashion rental company, which in August announced it was closing its physical stores, is eliminating its "Unlimited Swap" subscription option, which lets customers exchange an unlimited amount of items as many times as they want (as long as they only have four items out at once) for a monthly fee of $159. The plan will remain in place for current members until early 2021, with no new members accepted as of next week. 

In a letter posted on Rent the Runway’s website, CEO Jenn Hyman said that even prior to COVID-19, 70% of its Unlimited Swap members were renting fewer than eight items per month. And only 6% were renting 16 items or more per month.

“With our new subscription structure, these members can opt into a lower-priced plan and receive the same or more items as they did before,” she wrote. 

Rent the Runway unveiled three new membership plans that lets customers rent four, eight or 16 items per month for $89, $135 and $199 per month respectively. The four-item plan includes a limited selection of items while the other two provide access to all of the company’s inventory.

“The goal of our new membership structure is to provide customers with a flexible plan that can adapt seamlessly to their changing lifestyles, needs and budgets – with price points that reflect the number of styles received per month,” Hyman wrote. “We believe that when a member is in the right plan that matches their needs and budget, they’ll stay with us longer and keep renting — helping us on our mission to reduce clothing waste and build a better future for fashion.” 

Hyman said the company has invested to provide faster turnaround time, with the new plans giving customers the ability to create their next shipment before their returns are scanned back in at Rent the Runway. 

“This is the most-requested feature of all-time from members, and brings the expedited swapping service of our popular drop-off Box experience to all our members,” she said.

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