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Brief Published: 14 Mar 2019

Rent the Runway Moves into Home Products

Rent the Runway x West Elm

US fashion start-up Rent the Runway is launching a collaboration with US brand West Elm to extend its business into homeware, allowing consumers to rent cushions, throws and bedding.

Rent the Runway is a subscription service for clothing and accessories. Users with an Update membership can loan four articles and swap one piece each month, while users with an Unlimited membership can enjoy endless wardrobe updates.

From mid-2019, the company is introducing soft furnishings into their collection to allow consumers to purchase clothing and homewares that respond to their here-now needs and tastes. The products will be available in a variety of textile bundles, which include sheets, duvet covers, pillows and throws. 

Last year, The New York Times estimated that the company’s fashion service has 50,000 active subscribers. This addition aims to introduce a broader range of products to the sharing economy – particularly as the bundles include more personal items such as pillows and bedding.

The partnership responds to the shift in home ownership; as millennials are priced out of the housing market, they are instead using interior products to enjoy creative control over rented spaces. Rent the Runway’s CEO Jenn Hyman also credits the influence of social media for encouraging consumers to have flexible, changing interiors. 

“The home used to be a private place, but now it’s a very public place,” says Hyman. “Millennials and Gen Z [are] constantly posting photos of themselves in their homes on Instagram. It’s a reflection of who they are, and they don’t want to be stuck with the same things.”

The move follows the recent news that Ikea is launching its own rental scheme for corporate furniture, illustrating that brands are keen to get ahead of the wave of rental products, a trend we anticipated in our 2019 Look Ahead.

For more on how rental schemes are forging an environmentally friendly future, see The Repair Economy: Top Product Strategies and lookout for the latest episode of our podcast, Creating Designs for Life.