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Rent the Runway to Open First Standalone Store

The online-native retailer is the latest to make a big bet on brick-and-mortar.

After experimenting with "shop in shops" at Henri Bendel in New York and The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas over the past nine months, online dress and accessories rental company Rent the Runway is now planning to open its first freestanding store. The 1,700-square-foot space will open in New York City's Flatiron district on Sept. 3, offering a rotating selection of 850 dresses and 200 accessories from designers like Vera Wang, Kate Spade and Opening Ceremony.

Renting an outfit online without knowing how it will fit is enough to turn away many a shopper, and Rent the Runway's brick-and-mortar outlets are designed to combat that problem. Shoppers can try on a number of looks at every visit, which they can save to a "virtual closet" to rent for future occasions. The brick-and-mortar investments so far are working: On a panel earlier this summer, Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Fleiss told me that each of the company's shop in shops were profitable on their own.

In addition to regular shopping, visitors to the Flatiron shop are also invited to book personal styling appointments for $25 at (Walk-in appointments are also welcome.) Tailoring services, including temporary hemming and strap adjustments, will be offered on Thursdays and Fridays. The store is also available for private, two-hour and full-day rentals, designed for bridal parties.

Brick-and-mortar isn't the only direction Rent the Runway is expanding: The retailer also recently launched a Netflix-like accessories rental service for $75 a month.

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