An Open Letter from Our CEO Jenn Hyman on the Future of Subscription

September 17, 2020

An Open Letter from CEO Jenn Hyman on the Future of Subscription

To our community: 

We’ve had many big days at Rent the Runway over the past 10 years, and today is certainly one of them — one that I address with confidence in our mission, excitement for our future and gratitude for our community. 

Next week, we are debuting a new membership structure that offers more customization and introduces some of our members’ most-requested features. With this evolution, the majority of our members will pay less for their membership, which I’ll share more on later in this note. 

While we pioneered clothing rental and brought it to the mainstream, our members have turned it into a lifestyle and the movement it is today. And as even more women across the country join the rental revolution, we’ve been hearing directly that members want to pick a plan that’s right for their life right now.

The goal of our new membership structure is to provide customers with a flexible plan that can adapt seamlessly to their changing lifestyles, needs and budgets with price points that reflect the number of styles received per month. 

Starting next week, customers can pick from plans that offer up to 4, 8 or 16 items a month, and customize with extra items as needed.

  • The 4 item plan ($89/mo, previously 1 Swap) will continue to offer basic closet access and one shipment a month — mostly casual, weekend and workwear styles with a retail value up to $350.

  • The 8 item plan ($135/mo, previously 2 Swaps) will continue to offer full closet access to all designers and two shipments a month — including eventwear and premium styles with a retail value up to $3,500.

  • The new 16 item plan ($199/mo) will also offer full closet access and four shipments a month.

This means we are phasing out the Unlimited Swap plan early next year, and will no longer accept new members into that plan as of next week. However, current and paused Unlimited Swap members can (and should!) enjoy their memberships through early 2021, at which point we will be in touch to help transition them into one of our new plans. 

New Membership Features

We believe that the evolution of our membership offering is ultimately better for our customers, business and the world we share.

We’ve spent the past few years increasing the value of membership, adding new designers and categories including weekend wear, home goods, kids, activewear and ski. Now, we’re investing in even more features that I’m excited about: 

  • Faster Turnaround Time: With all new plans, members now have the ability to create their next shipment before their returns are scanned back in at Rent the Runway. This is the most-requested feature of all-time from members, and brings the expedited swapping service of our popular Drop-off Box experience to all our members.

  • Free Fit Do-Over: All new members will get a Free Fit Do-Over, which provides the ability to receive a replacement shipment at no extra charge within the first two months of membership.

  • Focus on Sustainability: The new membership plans also represent an important next step as we think even more critically about the carbon footprint of subscription rental. On average, our new memberships will mean fewer overall shipments per customer. Helping our members consolidate shipments is just one initiative intended to help reduce carbon emissions over time.

How We Got Here

For the health of our business, this pivotal transition will fuel our continued innovation of the industry we’ve created — and help us serve our customers for decades to come.

Our members remain at the core of our business. Their feedback and real-time interaction continue to inform how we grow. Even prior to COVID-19, most of our Unlimited Swap members — 70% —  were renting fewer than 8 items per month (at $159/mo). With our new subscription structure, these members can opt into a lower-priced plan and receive the same or more items as they did before. 

In addition, only 6% of Unlimited Swap members were renting 16 items or more per month. We wanted to provide a new plan for those members, albeit at a slightly higher price point that aligns with a premium level of access. 

We believe that when a member is in the right plan that matches their needs and budget, they’ll stay with us longer and keep renting — helping us on our mission to reduce clothing waste and build a better future for fashion. 

The Way Forward

Even in this new normal, the simple act of getting dressed can help elevate our mood, brighten our days and change our outlook.  With so much more to come from Rent the Runway, we feel confident that women everywhere will continue to feel the transformative power of a subscription to fashion. 

I remain forever grateful for the support from our entire community of unstoppable, stylish women — especially our members who were with us from that first day we launched subscription in 2016.  I can’t wait to bring everyone along on our journey. 

With gratitude, 

Jenn Hyman

CEO and Co-Founder