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Rent the Runway is dressing up with $20 million in investment for its unique approach to making fashion affordable.
Rent the Runway is a marketplace where women can rent luxury, high-end clothing at a fraction of the retail price. Many women (present company included) wish for a closet filled with designer clothing, but do not have the budget to support it. This desire is particularly pronounced during the holiday season’s parade of parties.
As a young woman with a busy social calendar, I want to wear something special without emptying my bank account. However, I do not want to wear the same outfit to every event, nor do I want to spend money on multiple, cheap outfits. Rent the Runway helps me access quality, style, and diversity within my price range.
“Given the economy and the prevalence of social media, women are savvy about investing in things like fashion,” said President Jennifer Fleiss in an interview. “Everyone wants to post photos of themselves wearing designer outfits to feel like their own celebrity, but don’t want to wear those dresses again. We offer democratic luxury, so every woman can have Cinderella moments and feel beautiful and self-confident.”
The company was founded by Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss who met at Harvard Business School. Since launching in 2009, the platform has grown to over 3 million members who have access to a revolving selection of 170 designer brands, 35,000 dresses, and 7,000 accessories.
This is Rent the Runway’s third round of financing. It raised $15 million in 2010 and $15 again in 2011 to support its growth.
Fleiss said at first it was a challenge to make older, male venture capitalists understand the product, but clearly that has changed. All the previous investors contributed to this round, including Conde Nast parent company Advance, Bain Capital Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Rent the Runway is based in New York.
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