Rent the Runway partners with W Hotels so you can pack lighter

Key Points
  • Rent the Runway will offer its clothing rental service at four W Hotels locations, starting Thursday.
  • The business has been teaming up with other companies, like WeWork and Nordstrom, to expand its reach.
Jennifer Hyman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Rent The Runway Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in New York, U.S., on Friday, March 22, 2019.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Rent the Runway is hoping to make packing for your vacation a little less painful.

The clothing and accessories rental service has teamed up with Marriott International's W Hotels brand to launch a one-of-a-kind rental experience at four locations: W Aspen in Colorado, W South Beach in Florida, W Washington D.C. and W Hollywood in California.

Starting Thursday, visitors to these hotels will have the option, upon arrival, to pay a $69 fee and pick four styles from Rent the Runway's curated selection to wear during their stay. The clothing will take into account the climate and surrounding activities like skiing or hanging by the pool. Rent the Runway will ship the items to W Hotels, where they will be delivered to one's hotel room. At checkout, the clothes can be left behind in the room.

"This idea of being able to show up on vacation ... and have the perfect clothing for what you want to wear, is pretty magical," Rent the Runway COO Maureen Sullivan said in an interview with CNBC. "The use case of being able to travel light and not have to [pack] ... is such an obvious utility for us."

Rent the Runway will also have "mini closets" stocked with various outfits at the four hotels, in case sizes don't work, or in case users want to add on additional items during their stay. Sullivan said the plan is to grow to other properties in W Hotels' portfolio, over time. And she added that Rent the Runway is exploring other businesses to work with in a similar fashion.

"Many of our subscribers change where they are shipping to frequently," the COO said. "I think as Rent the Runway comes to life, we are seeing how dynamic subscription can be."

Rent the Runway has slowly been expanding its reach via various partners. It has drop-off boxes in certain WeWork and Nordstrom locations, in addition to its growing fleet of stores in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Rent the Runway has also been moving into other categories, including home goods and kids apparel. Earlier this month, it announced it was starting to rent out athletic apparel and ski attire, from brands including Lululemon and Aztech Mountain, ahead of the winter season.

The rapid growth hasn't come without a few bumps in the road, however. In September, the business briefly halted taking on new customers, citing kinks in its supply chain for causing a systemwide slowdown. Customers were complaining about delayed and canceled orders. But by Oct. 8, all appeared to be "back to business as usual."

"If we are going to have any problems, I want them to be growth-driven problems," Sullivan said. "It's a privilege as a company we play this role in our customers' lives."

Rent the Runway's ascent has kept the traditional apparel industry on its toes, forcing some players to innovate or risk becoming irrelevant. More and more women are finding it appealing to rent out apparel on a monthly basis, versus stocking their closets with items they'll only put on once or twice. Urban Outfitters, Express and Gap's Banana Republic brand are just a few that have since launched their own rental platforms.

Rent the Runway was founded roughly a decade ago, and earlier this year hit a $1 billion valuation. Rent the Runway was also named No. 5 on CNBC's Disruptor 50 list for 2019.

Take a look inside Rent the Runway's fulfillment center
Rent the Runway's fulfillment center