When Rent the Runway first emerged as a luxury concept, women were the only ones able to partake of the experience of wearing designer dresses without buying them. Initially launched in 2009 as a purely e-commerce business, the company was the first of its sort and later busted the walls of uptown brick-and-mortar locations in New York City and Las Vegas.
Two women, Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss were at the helm then. It showed in their choice of clientele. No one really screamed ‘gender-biased’. However, it was soon obvious that men did not like being marginalized and not receiving their shot at affordable glamor outside the runway.
Rent the Runway – A Shot at Glamor for Women and Men Alike
First It Was Tuxedos
In 2015, the first start-up to rent the runway to men as well obviously knew what the market missed: rented high-quality tuxedos. The big box retailers that did cater to the needs of one-time groomsmen or guys who simply wished to dazzle James Bond style were scoring low points on service, quality, and product versatility. As soon as the Black Tux company ‘dressed for the occasion’ in the digital world, it swooped over the demands of a hungry market.
Then Followed the Designer Sneakers
Come 2016 and the Rent the Runway trend sees another player entering the luxe field. LSwop, or Luxury Swop, is already kicking it with designer sneakers. The high-end brand is turning its searchlights solely on European luxury sports shoe wear. Designers who entered the elite list and are available to the public include Tom Ford, Pierre Hardy, Rick Owens, and Christian Louboutin.
“We see where everything is going with the sneaker reselling business and I feel like that market is so oversaturated. There are so many sites and blogs with Jordan and Nike,” Jonathan Escoffery, co-founder of LSwop, told Women’s Wear Daily, the leading fashion-industry trade journal.
How far will a detour from the mainstream into the posh stretch your dollars? The price tag reads in monthly subscriptions. For example, one to four days of wearing a pair of top sneakers and pretending they’re your own will cost you $150. If you want to upgrade your wardrobe and rent two pairs, then you only pay $100 more.
It’s also worth comparing the costs to retail price tags, which typically soar to $800 to $1,000 a pair. Plus, the rapid wear and tear sometimes doesn’t justify the investment.
Moreover, if delivery is half the presentation battle, then LSwop is already a victor. Clients of the new Rent the Runway receive their sneakers carefully wrapped in their own custom wood shoe box, along with a free pair of socks (catch my drift?) and a 3M sole protector.
However, Jonathan Escoffery and his partner, Jinette Cordero have to disperse some well-founded worries. How many feet will one pair of sneakers see in their rental life span? LSwop vows that no more than two times. After that, subscribers will be able to buy them at a discount.
What Next for the Rent the Runway Startups?
‘European designer sneakers are to men what designer handbags are to women.’, says Escoffery.
And have you ever thought of accessorizing those sneakers with the Rent the Runway luxury watches? We bet you didn’t even know that’s a thing.