Rent The Runway Has Secret Private-Label Brands

Photo: Kris Connor/Getty Images.
Half the fun of picking out a Rent the Runway dress is the thrill of wearing something worth, oh, 10 times the amount you paid to borrow it for that fancy wedding or black-tie ball. But what if that exorbitant retail value wasn't nearly as high as you thought it was — because the dress in question was a private-label piece that never had a real retail value to begin with?

It turns out the high-end rental retailer carries two secret, in-house brands that you can't find anywhere else, dress label Slate & Willow and accessories line Ella Carter, and there's a pretty sneaky reason it's doing so, reports BuzzFeed. The site lists retail prices for Slate & Willow pieces as high as $500 to $600 (with rental prices ranging from $40 to $90 for four days). Yet there's no indication that the pieces are actually created by Rent the Runway, meaning they've never hit a selling floor in the first place. That retail value is "based on the cost of production,” a spokesperson told BuzzFeed.

This detracts from the thrill of getting a designer piece for a whole lot less (albeit briefly, of course), doesn't it? But besides making us feel duped, these covert private-label pieces seem to be quietly boosting Rent the Runway's much-touted stats. The company boasts of the combined retail value of all the items it rents out over the course of a year as evidence of how awesome it is doing — which gets inflated by adding the imaginary retail values of these private-label pieces. In 2014, Rent the Runway reportedly rented out $809 million worth of goods, and in 2015, it is on track to rent out $1 billion in merch.

These discreet Rent the Runway-manufactured pieces do have quite positive reviews on the site, as BuzzFeed notes. So, even if customers don't realize their rented threads and baubles aren't technically designer, they seem pretty satisfied with 'em.
Advertisement

More from Stores

The term "lady" certainly feels pretty antiquated. But in H&M's latest campaign commercial, the dated word gets a cool, thoroughly modern ...
J.Crew doesn't have the over-the-top quality of some other shows (or, as fashion critic Vanessa Friedman recently called them, "hashtag hoo-has") such as ...
Here’s a sentence my teenage self never thought she’d write: Lane Bryant is seriously killing the plus game. Besides an overall aesthetic shift from “stuff...
Lane Bryant's latest campaign is evidently not suitable for national network TV audiences: Its 30-second spot was banned by ABC and NBC. Featuring plus-...
If you had any lingering doubt that fashion is all about nostalgia, just take a look at Opening Ceremony's new arrivals: Humberto Leon and Carol Lim keep ...
We should probably employ a "believe it or not" clause around all of the epic tales we heard while on our exclusive tour of Cartier's newly renovated ...
When I saw Ashley Nell Tipton on Project Runway, I knew that a sea change had just occurred. It was thrilling to watch her tackle challenge after challenge...
After last month's productive spring-cleaning binge, we imagine your closet's looking a little sparse these days. With all of that freed-up space, the ...
H&M is on a quest for ambitious, innovative green ideas that could change the fashion biz. The Swedish retailer's non-profit arm, H&M Foundation...
Another day, another independent artist calling out fast fashion for ripping off work. Let's get right to it: Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed, who is known ...
If you've been a fan of R29's for years, you'll know we have a soft spot in our hearts for J.Crew. Its new arrivals always seem to address exactly what our...
A new book, set to be released in Sweden next week, asserts that the factories in Myanmar under contract with H&M hired employees as young as 14 and ...
Update: H&M just released a second look at its upcoming collaboration with Kenzo — one that teases a very different direction for a fast-fashion ...
Just a few weeks after people rallied behind artist Tuesday Bassen following allegations that Zara copied her original illustrations on numerous ...