Rent the Runway brings high-end fashion to the office with drop boxes at WeWork

Key Points
  • Rent the Runway is rolling out drop-off boxes in 15 WeWork spaces across six U.S. cities.
  • The drop boxes will be set up in New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C.
  • Shoppers will now be able to immediately select new items for rent after they drop off items at WeWork.
Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway 
Scott Mlyn | CNBC

Rent the Runway is setting up drop boxes at 15 WeWork locations across the U.S. — the clothing subscription service's attempt to bring high-end fashion to the office.

The drop boxes will be set up in six U.S. cities — New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C. — allowing customers to more quickly return and order clothing, the companies announced Thursday.

WeWork has over 268,000 members, many of them small entrepreneurs, who share office space at more than 280 locations in 77 cities across the world.

Rent the Runway shoppers normally return items via a box in the mail, which slows down the turnaround time for new orders under the company's monthly subscription plans. Customers can rent an unlimited number of outfits a month, with any four styles out at any one time, for $159 a month or they can rent just four pieces a month at $89.

"We knew there was a demand for creating these drop boxes in other convenient locations," Rent the Runway COO Maureen Sullivan told CNBC. "There is a massive opportunity to not only grow our drop-box network ... but also to grow mini stores within WeWork."

WeWork's customers and the general public will have access to the drop boxes, which open on Thursday. Rent the Runway also said it will have pop-up shops full of clothes to rent at a handful of WeWork locations around the launch of the boxes.

The move will help Rent the Runway, which currently has just five locations — in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. — expand via bricks and mortar without investing in additional stores. The company was started online in 2009 by Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss. The latter joined Walmart in 2017 to help founder Marc Lore roll out a new personal shopping start-up known as JetBlack.

Rent the Runway became popular for allowing women to rent designer dresses for special occasions online and receive them in the mail within a few days. More recently, the company's subscription option — where shoppers pay a fee each month to be able to tap into an "endless wardrobe" — has become more popular.

"Our long-term vision is getting our clothing as close to the customer as possible," Sullivan said. She wouldn't count out Rent the Runway opening more of its own standalone stores down the road and said in the meantime the company plans to expand on a much larger scale with WeWork.

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