Despite the fact that nearly 7 out of 10 Americans are overweight or obese, high fashion remains a plus-size desert in many ways. To fill the void, Rent the Runway recently debuted its first collection of evening gowns and cocktail dresses for curvier figures.
"We're in the business democratizing luxury fashion, and we can't truly do that until we can service all women," said Jennifer Fleiss, the company's co-founder and head of business development. "So we've been getting a lot of requests to expand our size range, and now we can do it with top designers."
Since 2009, the start-up's been renting out designer dresses from top labels, for limited time periods for users to wear and then return. After toying with the idea of selling plus-size items since it began, consumer demand for higher sizes prompted the company to enter the market.
"When we launched accessories, that was a great option that a woman of any size could use, but we still kept hearing, 'I want to wear a designer dress too,'" Fleiss said.
(Read more: Don't even try to return that dress: Bloomie's)
The new collection consists of more than 40 dresses in sizes 14 to 22 from designers who already make plus-size options and ones, such as Badgley Mischka, that are exclusive collections for the site.
So far, Rent the Runway's plus-size collection is generating margins that are pretty similar to the rest of its business, Fleiss added.