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Rent the Runway is getting into the home business, teaming up with West Elm

Key Points
  • Venturing into the home category, Rent the Runway will be partnering with furniture retailer West Elm.
  • The rental platform has grown to 10 million member, enabling them to swap out their clothes and accessories.
Rent the Runway chief operating officer Maureen Sullivan at the CNBC Disruptor 50 Road Show event in Philadelphia on October 24, 2018.
David A. Grogan | CNBC

Rent the Runway is expanding beyond just renting designer dresses, denim and handbags, and now will rent you throw blankets and decorative pillows.

The rental platform, with more than 10 million members today, has grown more popular as a greater number of women find it appealing to swap out their clothes and accessories each month — or even as frequently as each week. They can try new brands and avoid repeating outfits under monthly plans for $159 and $89, depending on the frequency of exchanging items.

Now, Rent the Runway is giving shoppers the ability to swap decorations for their homes as much as they want. To make this happen, Rent the Runway will be partnering with furniture retailer West Elm, starting Thursday.

Members will now be able to select from more than two dozen so-called bundles, each with three to four items, curated by West Elm. The items — meant to decorate bedrooms and living rooms — consist mostly of soft goods like quilts, shams and coverlets. Selecting one bundle of items to rent will be just like renting one piece of clothing, according to the company.

Just like the clothes that go in your closet, "what we put in our homes is a reflection of personal style," COO Maureen Sullivan said. "West Elm resonates with our customers, too." She said existing shoppers had been asking Rent the Runway for home goods.

In venturing into the home decor category, Rent the Runway aims to appeal to even more people across the U.S., growing its membership base while maintaining existing customers. To expand its clothing business, it has partnered with more than 600 brands, including Kate Spade, Levi's and Diane von Furstenberg.

As a company, Rent the Runway "understands the shift in consumer behavior and is embracing it," Sullivan said. The shift is largely being driven by millennials, who more often than not don't want to make purchases for things they'll likely grow tired of.

Sullivan said consumers might want to rent home furnishings for special events like house parties, or when guests come to visit. But a lot of this collaboration with West Elm will also be a learning experience for Rent the Runway to see what types of "use cases" come up, she added.

Just as they do with the clothing currently via Rent the Runway, members will also have the option to eventually buy any of the West Elm items they rent at a discounted price.

This weekend, at the annual SXSW conference in Austin, Texas, Rent the Runway will be operating a mini pop-up shop for its clothes inside one of West Elm's Texas stores, to mark the foray into the home category. This is the first time the company has expanded beyond clothing and accessories, but Sullivan said Rent the Runway is thinking about getting into other categories.