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Why Rent the Runway Is Partnering With a Hotel Chain

Ella Chochrek

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Rent the Runway has a new partnership, with an eye on reeling in travelers.

The startup has teamed up with W Hotels to bring its RTR Closet Concierge service to four W hotels, in Aspen, Colo., Washington, D.C., Hollywood, Calif. and South Beach, Miami.

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Beginning today, customers can choose four items to wear during their stay for $69 during the hotel booking process. Shoppers can choose from RTR’s Unlimited Closet, as well as pick from an assortment tailored to the trending colors, designers and climate of the hotel’s location.

In today’s challenging retail environment (where department stores, in particular, are struggling to find new ways to engage consumers), clothing rental services have emerged as one of the fastest-growing sectors of the industry. A number of traditional retailers have entered the space, including Banana Republic, Bloomingdale’s, Express and URBN (parent to Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie).

Founded in 2009, Rent the Runway is considered a pioneer in the fashion rental space. It works with hundreds of brands, and has a valuation of $1 billion as of earlier this year.

The company is no stranger to brand and retail partnerships.

Before rolling out its own brick-and-mortar locations, RTR opened several pop-ups inside Neiman Marcus department stores, beginning in 2016. It teamed up in 2018 with WeWork, placing drop-off boxes in select office buildings across the country.

But the firm has faced challenges this fall, as a nearly monthlong software failure (spanning from mid-September through mid-October) resulted in customer complaints about unfulfilled or delayed shipment. RTR halted user signups and orders for delivery as it dealt with its supply-chain problems, granting returned payment and a $200 credit to shoppers who missed their orders. 

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