Rent the Runway revolutionized the fashion world when they gave event goers everywhere the chance to rent expensive gowns instead of buying them. No longer do we have to drop a bunch of money on a dress just to wear it once, have it sit in the back of the closet for years and eventually throw it out.
They recently changed the fashion industry again when they started Rent the Runway Unlimited. RTR Unlimited allows fashionistas to borrow everyday designer pieces to wear to work, school and play. It also includes any formal gowns you might need too. You can rent as many pieces as you want, but you can only have up to four at a time. So you need to send one back in order to get another. While I love the discovery aspect of my unlimited subscription and that it allows fashion lovers of varying incomes to wear expensive designer styles, like everything else, Rent the Runway Unlimited has its pros and cons. Since I’m kind of on the fence about continuing my subscription, I decided to lay them out.
- It’s Not That Much More Expensive Than Renting One Dress: The last time I rented a single dress from Rent the Runway with a backup size it was $65 and I had to commit to two more rentals down the road. In my mind, if you know you have an event or a wedding that month, you might as well pay $159/month for unlimited and get a bunch of dresses sent to you until you find the one you like. You can also rent casual clothes too and amp up your daily wardrobe.
- No Dry Cleaning: When you’re done with a piece or outfit, you just drop it off at your local UPS store and order something else. My friends in New York that have to dress up for work always tell me that they love Rent the Runway Unlimited because they used to spend more than $159/month just on dry cleaning. Unlimited allows them to diversify their wardrobe for less than their monthly dry cleaning bill.
- Fabulous Finds and Discoveries: One of my favorite things about Rent the Runway Unlimited is the discovery aspect. I’ve gotten to experience styles I never would have had access to or thought would work on me. Because it is unlimited, you feel the freedom to explore brands and styles that you’ve never worn before. After a while you start getting a better idea of what brands work best for you. If you really like something, you can buy it at a discount.
- A Revolving Wardrobe: If you’re someone who easily gets tired of your clothes, Rent the Runway Unlimited gives you the opportunity to mix things up.
- UPS Issues: Like with any ecommerce purchase, your order could get lost or stolen. Plus, if you’re not home, UPS may decide to take your order back to the store where you have to pick it up. If you’re like me and you leave for work before the UPS store opens and get back after it closes, then you may have to wait another week to get your clothes. If you don’t end up liking them, this is just more time wasted with you paying to wear nice clothes, but not actually wearing them. If you do have an item get lost or stolen as I have, then you have to wait for to UPS to investigate before Rent the Runway reopens that spot. You then have to call or email them for them to manually put in the order if you want to get something else. It’s super annoying.
- Missing Sizes/Styles: Like your wardrobe, Rent the Runway’s inventory is constantly revolving. So sometimes the styles you’ve been eyeing aren’t available when you need them or aren’t available in your size. I’ve seen this happen far too often. Sometimes I’ll order an item and get an email an hour later saying that I have to pick another because they don’t actually have it. This is a huge pain point for me. What am I paying for if I can’t get the styles I want when I want them? It’s even more frustrating when all my backup styles are also unavailable. When I have an event that I need to go to, I usually order my outfit or dress weeks in advance and hold on to it to make sure I have it.
- Customer Service Could Be Better: When I had an item stolen, I ended up on hold for over an hour before I actually talked to someone who could help me. While on hold I did grocery shopping and watched an entire movie. It was ridiculous! I felt like no one was listening and began to question again what I was actually paying for. Once I did get ahold of someone they were super nice and helpful so I will give them that. But, I feel like Rent the Runway is way more focused on gaining more customers than they are on the actual user experience which as a paying customer is disturbing to me. I really wish they made more of an effort to serve the customers that they currently have.
- Disappointing Deliveries: Half of the items I’ve ordered from Rent the Runway have been great. I’ve gotten to wear some fabulous styles that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford and I didn’t have to worry about closet space or dry cleaning. However, the other half of the items I’ve tried have been incredibly disappointing. They’ve fit poorly, weren’t flattering and despite the designer label were very low quality. I try to send these back as soon as I can so I can get more of my money’s worth out of the RTR experience. However, that means I have to wait two days for the item to get back to Rent the Runway and another two days for my new item to come in. In the meantime, I don’t have any new clothes to wear, but I’m still paying for the service.
While I love how Rent the Runway has leveled the playing field in fashion (not that you have to wear designer clothes to be fashionable, but it’s fun to give them a try), I often feel like I’m paying for the idea of wearing designer clothes, but not actually wearing them. They really need to focus more on the customer experience rather than just getting new customers. It’s an interesting service and when you find something awesome it’s amazing. But, when you don’t it’s just another trip you have to make to UPS. I’m going to keep my subscription until New York Fashion Week in February and then decide.