As Rent the Runway celebrates its fifth anniversary, the extremely popular dress-rental site launches a brick-and-mortar store in Georgetown.
Jennifer Hyman (LEFT) and Jennifer Fleiss in their newly opened boutique, Rent the Runway Georgetown, which offers designer accessories and dresses for rent or purchase.
The concept of renting an outfit for a special occasion is no longer outlandish thanks to Jennifer Fleiss and Jennifer Hyman, co-founders of the popular website Rent the Runway, whose third brick-and-mortar location is now open in Cady’s Alley. While a boutique modeled after a website seems backwards, Fleiss, who is also the company’s head of business development, disagrees. “We kept hearing from customers that they wanted to see the dresses in person,” she says. “It’s been wonderful to see a huge number of customers who weren’t previously comfortable with online shopping discovering our stores.”
The 4,354-square-foot boutique houses 900 dresses and 500 accessories from more than 200 designers such as BCBG, Narciso Rodriguez, and Monique Lhuillier. “We really want to use this to complement our online business,” Fleiss continues. “It’s ideal to introduce new customers to the brand through the store, but not necessary for them to come back every time. Next time, they might use us online.” The store has a pick-up and drop-off service for those who find that more convenient than fussing with prepaid shipping labels. Customers who book online and pick up their dresses in-store have the option to try on the garment on the spot—and exchange it right then and there if the fit isn’t ideal. For a $25 fee, dress shoppers can also book an appointment for a 45-minute in-store consultation with a stylist who will help preselect dresses based on the event and save the customer’s preferences for future reference.
“This will be our largest ground-level store,” Fleiss says. “When we thought about where to open next, DC was a really natural choice—we already have a large customer base in the area that had been asking for a store. We were just responding to customer interest and demand.” This knowledge, combined with awareness of the hefty number of events Washingtonians attend throughout the year, made DC an ideal choice—and Georgetown a priority. “Walking around, Georgetown just felt like the right fit for us,” Fleiss continues. “Cady’s Alley is a charming, beautiful street with a lot of character, and we felt it had a lot of energy and elements that resonate with our brand.”
Rent the Runway Georgetown will host events such as girls’ nights out, and provide in-store services like makeup sessions, manicures, and hemming. “We want to make it a fun place for women to spend time with their friends,” says Fleiss, who adds that there are plenty of complementary accessories for rent and beautifully appointed fitting rooms to foster a party-like atmosphere. “We hope to have exclusive in-store packages in the future for private events and weddings—we’d love to have bridal parties come and try on dresses,” she adds. “We hope that we can help women change the way they think about their closets and provide unprecedented access to designer fashion. We’re trying to make rental a part of a woman’s everyday.” 3336 M St. NW, 202-774-5380