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The disruption of retail continues as fashion goes to the office

Two fast-growing disruptors — one that rents clothes and the other that rents co-working office spaces — have entered into a partnership.

Clothing rental service Rent the Runway has teamed up with WeWork to install drop-off boxes with self-service technology in the lobbies at 15 WeWork locations in six cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Runway shoppers will be able to leave their rental returns in the box and, using the technology, also order new items. Previously, Rent the Runway subscribers only had access to the drop-off boxes at the company’s five brick-and-mortar locations (New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles).

“This is really just the beginning,” said Jennifer Hyman, CEO, Rent the Runway, told Bloomberg. “We have subscribers in many places throughout the U.S. and with WeWork’s massive footprint, there’s huge opportunity to grow this drop-box network.”

As part of the collaboration, Rent the Runway will open pop-up shops in several of the WeWork locations, allowing members to browse the latest fashions and take some items home by using the self-checkout technology on the retailer’s app. WeWork members will also receive discounted Rent the Runway memberships.

Rent the Runway was founded in 2009 as an online site where women could rent designer apparel for special occasions. But it has broadened its assortment to include everyday wear, for work and play. It also has greatly expanded its audience by moving beyond one-time rentals to include two monthly subscription plans.

WeWork CFO Artie Minson said that the partnership is one more way the company is moving into retail. In June, WeWork launched a retail concept, WeMrkt, at one of its locations in downtown Manhattan. The small shop sells a curated selection of merchandise, exclusively to the company’s members, with the products made by member companies. The concept, which has since expanded to other locations, is all about promoting members, according to Minson.

"We will offer our member companies an entirely unique channel of distribution for their products and goods, and we’re excited to be able to help them in this way,” he said.
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