Rent the Runway has already become a staple for fashionistas on a budget, and now the company is focusing on college women with a desire for designer.
In 2009, Rent the Runway, which allows users to rent designer items from dresses to jewelry to handbags for a fraction of the retail cost, expanded to college campuses nationwide with Rent the Runway On Campus (RTROnCampus.com). The extension is a college-dedicated website that offers beauty advice, fashion tips, girl talk, entertainment news and information on RTR's Runway Rep program.
The site also serves as an interactive community for all 500 Runway Reps across college campuses to monitor each campus's progress, allow networking opportunities and serve as an open forum to share ideas. The site is powered by 14 bloggers stemming from college campuses throughout the U.S. Since its development, the program has grown from 50 to 125 schools (including UF) and from 150 to 500 Runway representatives.
According to Rent the Runway president and co-founder Jenny Fleiss, college-age women account for 20 percent of RTR's customers.
"[Students] are already renting for all of the occasions in their lives, whether it is sorority events, 21st birthdays, tailgating parties, weddings, spring breaks or graduations," Fleiss said.
Rent the Runway allows users to search for dresses by occasion and price range, according to Kelsey Munyan, a RTR UF public relations representative.
"We're obviously college students," Munyan said. "We don't have tons of cash lying around, yet we have all these big events going on in our lives right now. You're getting a $2,000 dress to wear and you're only paying $100 for it, where if you would have bought it for $2,000, you may have only worn it once."
UF's branch of RTR On Campus (rtroncampus.com/tag/uf) is kicking off its second year. This year, Munyan said the number of UF RTR representatives has grown to eight and that the program will also be hosting more events. There will also be a RTR fashion show, but a date has not been set yet, she said.
"[RTR On Campus] is more about bringing together this community of young women for fashion-minded people," Munyan said.
Rent the Runway offers items from more than 150 designers, 25,000 dresses and 4,000 accessories.
When an order is placed, the customer picks her dress of choice in two sizes to ensure a fit. Each item is rented for a maximum of four days. Shipping is free when returning the product.
Retail prices for dresses range from around $200 to more than $2,000, but RTR users only shell out $50 to $350 for a rental. Beauty products and accessories are also offered.
The inspiration for RTR came when its co-founder, Jennifer Hyman, was home for Thanksgiving and had a "closet full of clothes but nothing to wear at the moment," Fleiss said.
"Women everywhere can live the life they dream today by having access to designer brands that otherwise would have been unattainable," she said. "We aspired to make high-end fashions as accessible as renting a movie from Netflix."