Rent the Runway and Friends: Fashion Week for the Rest of Us?
September 17, 2015
As a nod to all of the luxury designers unveiling their new lines and fashion week coming to a close, we wanted to highlight a few consumer trends in the retail industry and some companies using these trends to their advantage in order to make haute fashion accessible to the everyday shopper and create inspirational experiences in the process.
Not being a “repeat offender” is top of mind for shoppers today. Millennials in specific, are fueled by a fixation with social media and use these platforms for discovery and trendsetting. They are hyperaware of how they present themselves online and make purchases with a unique look in mind, never wanting to be seen in the same dress twice in an Instagram post from one of the numerous weddings they’ve attended this summer. Correspondingly, having a consistent connected experience in order to seamlessly transition across devices as well as between online and offline worlds is essential to on-the-go lifestyles and maintaining and reinforcing brand consistency. These in-store experiences help build brand affinity and create an aspirational spirit among shoppers. Lastly, curated selections are vital. When choice gets overwhelming, shoppers appreciate an experience that is specialized, especially by a brand or style influencer, rather than starting from scratch.
When we think of companies in the fashion world that embody some of these trends, Rent the Runway (RTR) is top of mind for their ability to make high style accessible to the average shopper through the use of their short-term rentals of designer dresses and accessories. RTR has been around since 2009, but similarly to Warby Parker, Birchbox, and Bonobos, they opened the doors to their first showroom here in NYC last September. For all of these companies, an in-store experience has proved to be extremely valuable, as it reinforces their brand with a physical space and promotes an aspirational feel, which resonates with the shopper.
We’ve perused RTR’s website before, but shopping online is never the same as trying something on in person. With that in mind, we headed to one of their showroom locations for the full experience (and maybe to find a dress for yet another upcoming wedding). Rent the Runway provided a comprehensive experience from the moment we scheduled our showroom appointment. We received an e-mail confirmation, a text reminder, and the ability to fill out a style assessment ahead of our appointment so that our stylist could prepare some looks for us. Additionally, as we were looking at dresses in person, we were able to pull up customer reviews of the corresponding style on the app to help inform our size (the showroom had limited in-store inventory) and see how others wore it to inspire us when putting our own flare on the outfit. Ultimately, a 360-degree experience is created and the feel of the brand is continuous across all touchpoints, resulting in a unified experience.
Similarly to RTR, fashion tech startup, Nineteenth Amendment is also making unique, high fashion options available to shoppers (and their Instagram feeds!) at more affordable prices by breaking down the barrier to fashion world entry for emerging designers. Nineteenth Amendment’s playbook focuses on curation, the key to a shopper’s heart. All featured designers and garments on Nineteenth Amendment are hand-picked, which helps foster trust and offers added value for a shopper, instead of an overwhelming selection of options.
In a nutshell, Nineteenth Amendment provides a platform for designers to post their latest and exclusive designs, which shoppers can order over a 19 day pre-sale period at wholesale prices. After the 19 days, all designs are manufactured in the USA and delivered right to your doorstep within 4 weeks. Just in time for fashion week, they announced a partnership with retail giant Macy’s, which exposes Macy’s millennial shoppers to these new and unique options. Not only does this make diverting from the mainstream and finding one’s own personal style more accessible, it provides a guide for aspiring fashionistas.
These companies provide a consistent, seamless, and specialized experience to shoppers, which has quickly brought them into the forefront of the fashion space. Most importantly, they make it easy for shoppers to access items that are as unique and high quality as those that you’d find on the fashion week runways without breaking the bank.
Has fashion week inspired you to discover other companies making waves and disrupting the retail space? What are some of your favorites?
Designs By Lisa Vissichelli, Digital Designer
Edited By Gina Gioldassis, Operations & Communications Coordinator
Social Media by Janine Walsh, Operations & Community Manager