Rent the Runway Goes Brick and Mortar with Henri Bendel

In the latest instance of an e-commerce company bringing its online experience offline, Rent the Runway has launched a showroom on the second floor of Henri Bendel in New York.
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In the latest instance of an e-commerce company bringing its online experience offline, Rent the Runway has launched a showroom on the second floor of Henri Bendel in New York.
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Looks like Rent the Runway is putting that $20 million investment round to good use. In the latest instance of an e-commerce company bringing its online experience offline, it has just launched a fancy new showroom on the second floor of Henri Bendel in New York.

And we think it's a pretty smart idea. The site—which allows ladies to rent a designer dress or accessory (for a lot less than the price of the actual dress) and have it delivered to her door—will have a rotating selection of its inventory available to try on and rent in the new space. It'll also have "Go-to-Girls" on hand for personal styling consultations.

But, there's still an online component: While walk-in appointments are welcome, you can also book appointments on the site, as well as set up a "style profile" that keeps track of your size, shape, style preferences, and even inspiration dresses. Plus, every dress you try on in-store has a barcode which your "Go-to-Girl" scans to add the dress to your virtual closet and potentially rent later on.

“It’s become clear to us at Rent the Runway that our customer is the true go-getter girl--she is smart and busy; she loves fashion but wants it easily and at the highest level of service. Henri Bendel is the perfect partner for us to innovate offline as they are also known for the spectacular customer experiences they offer through their stores,” said Jennifer Hyman, CEO and co-founder of Rent the Runway (and Fashionista columnist). “With the ability to try on the designer dresses that would be paired with your newest on-trend Henri Bendel accessory purchase, women can alleviate their fit concerns, drop by after work for that last minute event, and more confidently book dresses for the entire season.”

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The way we see it, the last-minute aspect is the biggest advantage to the new showroom. Renting something far enough in advance to have it delivered requires more foresight and planning than I'm typically capable of.

We also like think its placement at Henri Bendel adds a luxurious element to renting a designer dress. We haven't gotten a chance to stop by yet, but based on photos this certainly looks a lot more high-end than Rent-a-Swag as well as its competitor, Tommy's Closet.

Rent the Runway at Henri Bendel's Fifth Avenue flagship is open Monday-Saturday 10am to 8pm and Sundays 12pm to 7pm.