The holiday season isn't just a boon to retailers that sell merchandise. It's critical to the players that rent clothing too.
Rent The Runway launched the market for rental party-wear when it started in 2009. The company's CEO and co-founder Jenn Hyman told CNBC that every holiday quarter for the past eight years of Rent The Runway's existence has set a new record.
Hyman said events of various types are a big reason for the rise, as her consumers are going to business parties, galas, and celebrating New Year's Eve.
"This is the time of year that women of all ages have events," she said. "Couple that with our growing subscription business, and shipments are up over 50 percent year over year, and actually from the third to the fourth quarter, it's up over 30 percent," she said.
In addition to rentals on an on-demand basis, the company has introduced a subscription model, including work-appropriate clothing, RTR Unlimited. Unlimited rentals cost $159 a month. For $89 a month, subscribers can receive four looks at a time in a program called RTR Update. The prices cover shipping, returns, insurance and dry cleaning.
"Our unlimited subscription has really taken the company by storm," Hyman said. "The subscriber growth has been unprecedented, we actually had to put people on a wait list because the demand is so high and people are using it about one third to half of the days of the month. So they're wearing an outfit that is rented hundreds of times a year."
Rent The Runway isn't the only company trying to tap into the demand for rental wardrobes. Le Tote describes itself as the "Netflix of clothing." Although it is marketed less for formal events, and more for everyday wear, Le Tote also sees an upswing during the fourth quarter.
Le Tote president and co-founder Brett Northart told CNBC that during the holiday season, it sees consumers rent more "due to parties, meetings but also travel. Subscribers will send their items directly to their destinations and not have to worry about packing extra items."
Le Tote usage rises 30 percent during the holidays, Northart said. Plus, there is an increase in the number of totes sent to each subscriber during the season. Additionally, Northart said about 10 percent of lapsed subscribers take their membership off hold during the season.
Le Tote subscribers rent clothing and accessories to wear as long as they would like, and then return the tote when they are done. Another tote with new options will be shipped out. The subscription cost is $59 to $79 a month, based on the number of items in each shipment. Totes range from three garments and two accessories to five garments and three accessories.