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Rent the Runway seeks to broaden appeal with new monthly service

Fast-growing online apparel and accessories rental company Rent the Runway wants a bigger share of the market — one that appeals to fast-fashion shoppers.

The New York-based company on Monday announced a less costly membership option that allows women to rent four items from its website, choosing from a curated selection of everyday styles from more than 200 brands. At the end of each month, members can either send the goods back or buy them at the company’s members-only discount.

The new service, called RTR Update, costs $89 a month. The company's other membership service for everyday wear, which launched in 2016 and is called RTR Unlimited, is going up from $139 per month to $159 per month. It allows for unlimited monthly rentals, four at a time. Both membership models feature free shipping and dry-cleaning, 25% off “RTR Reserve” rentals and the ability to pause or cancel anytime.

“Since its launch, ‘RTR Unlimited’ has created an entirely new consumer behavior and has disrupted the way women are getting dressed every day,” said Jennifer Hyman, CEO and co-founder, Rent the Runway. “Our subscription business is up 125% year-over-year and is projected to triple in 2018. We’ve made clothing rental a utility in women’s lives, and I’m thrilled to be bringing the closet in the cloud to millions more women with ‘RTR Update.’”

In addition to its online presence, Rent the Runway operates five physical locations (New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Woodland Hills, California). It is looking to grow its brick-and-mortar footprint.

As it looks to extend its appeal to a wider audience, Rent the Runway is also rolling out its first national brand advertising campaign. The campaign will launch on Monday with 15- and 30-second TV spots.

To date, Rent the Runway has raised $190 million in venture capital funding. Its $60 million Series E in 2016 was one of the largest ever for a women-run company, according to Forbes. The company was founded in 2009 by Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss, who left in March, as a site where women could rent dresses for special occasions.
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