It’s been a running joke in my family that I can walk into a Men’s Big & Tall department and leave with a bag full of stuff. You’ll see the humor when I point out I’m 5’3 and female. Indeed, my shopping habits tend to be a bit excessive, but not (usually) in terms of the money I spend, but rather the amount of crap I really enjoy consuming. Zara and ASOS are my four-letter words of choice. I wish my initials were H&M. My favorite market is the one that starts with Pixie.
To be clear, I don’t necessarily prefer cheapie stuff to the real-deal fashion brands I splurge on once in a blue moon, but there’s something terribly fulfilling about the immediacy fast fashion brings (I know, I’m sorry environmentalists!) Plus, it’s simply not an option for me financially to regularly shop for things like $600 shoes and $1,000 bags.
Occasionally, I wish I could be that girl who takes the magazine’s advice and buys “quality over quantity!” but then I’d be without my favorite at-home activity: Going up and down to the lobby to get my packages.
So, you can imagine my reaction when I heard Rent the Runway’s new designer subscription service is trying to cure stuff addicts like me.
In case you hadn’t heard, the site—which formerly only rented out dresses to smart girls who didn’t want to shell out big bucks for something to wear to events—is now offering users the chance to rent three designer accessories at a time for a flat monthly fee of $75. And lest you think the offerings are glittery special-occasional pieces, think again: We’re talking everyday stuff like bags, sunglasses, jewelry, scarves, and outerwear. All well and good, but the real sell here is the brands: Balenciaga, Clair Vivier, Moschino, Helmut Lang, Pamela Love, Eddie Borgo, and Missoni, to name a few.
The idea—according to Rent the Runway’s cofounder and chief executive officer Jennifer Hyman—is to combat
my women’s addiction to disposable shopping. “We really wanted to attack Zara and H&M head on,” Hyman told WWD. “When there is a trend and you want to update, the mass-market customer will go to [those stores] and buy something disposable — [they] buy [it] like junk food.”
(For the record, she’s not wrong: I buy Zara blouses the way my tweenage cousins buy Sour Patch Kids.)
The high-end labels fall in line nicely with Rent the Runway’s new direction, which seems to be that of a slicker, style-forward product that’ll likely gel with fashion’s obsession with blogs, street style, and Instagram. The site’s set to re-brand in February with a new logo and website, cooler photos, actual editorial content, and luxe packaging. Plus, they’ve tapped celebrity stylist Kate Foley to style shoots and create trend reports.
Much like the Netflix of yore, users will be able to rent their three items and hang onto them as long as they like, while also setting up queues for other pieces they know they’ll want.
So, what does a real fast fashion addict think about all this? While I can’t say that the service will necessarily cure me of my conspicuous consumption habits, knowing I have a Balenciaga leather jacket coming in the mail will absolutely make me think twice about about scooping up that fake one from ASOS for $89 that I’ll probably wear the same amount of times as the rented one.
And it’ll make those frequent trips down to my doorman a little more exciting, too.