I’m Never Checking My Luggage Again Thanks To This Fashion Travel Hack

Imagine, for a moment, you're walking into the airport. Crowds are swarming around the check-in booths, and the line to drop off a bag is nearly out the door. You make your way through the crowd toward your gate, only to nearly trip over someone's suitcase, flung wide open and situated inconveniently in the middle of the walkway. That suitcase belongs to me. I'm that person frantically trying to stuff another pair of shoes into my carry-on at the last possible second. And that's just my rollaboard luggage.
People openly laugh at the sight of my weekender backpack, which looks bigger than my body and is filled to the brim with everything from toiletries to heels to my work laptop. More than once, a flight attendant has asked me if my backpack will fit under my seat and then watched in awe as I successfully (if not somewhat frantically) slide, stuff, and maneuver it until it's laying under the seat in front of me. "Of course it fits!" I say, barely masking my exasperation. 
Packing is (obviously) not my strong suit, but it's a big part of my life as a fashion editor who travels for work. Though I have a no-fail, carry-on luggage packing strategy (rolled dresses in my suitcase, shoes in my backpack), I still elicit quite a few eye-rolls as I struggle to fit my nearly exploding Rimowa into an overhead bin. All that changed recently when I went to Miami for Art Basel. It was the first time I tried out the Closet Concierge feature from Rent The Runway, and the experience left me relieved and a bit stupefied. But let me start at the beginning.
I rarely shop for new clothes anymore. If I'm not buying a handbag or a pair of shoes through a resale site, I'm renting an outfit for an event or a season (3 months in the RTR Unlimited program), and then sending it right back. It's just a smarter, more cost-efficient way to shop. And though I'm not the environmentally-friendly poster child by any means (I'm still flying after all), I do love that it helps me reduce my carbon footprint when it comes to shopping, allowing me to trade in fast fashion for a new form of trend-conscious yet mindful consumption. That said, before trips, I'm usually renting or calling outfits in from fashion brands to wear on vacation. And that means, my suitcase often runneth over.
RTR Closet Concierge W Hotels basically gave me the stylish outfits without the whole luggage ordeal. After I chose the 4 pieces I wanted to rent on the app, they were sent directly to my hotel at The W in South Beach. When I checked into my room, there they were — a Stine Goya mini, a Delfi Collective dress, Adam Selman x Le Specs sunglasses, and a Staud bucket bag — already waiting for me in my room. I wore them all to evening events at Art Basel (I live in freezing New Jersey so days were spent melting off at the beach). Once I checked out, I handed my RTR garment bag over to the receptionist at the front desk. As an earth sign, I was skeptical, of course, so I asked her: "Do you know about Closet Concierge? Are these OK to get back to Rent The Runway? As in... I won't be charged if they go missing?" She laughed. "Oh, we do this all the time." And sure enough, before I had even landed back into the blistering cold in NYC, I had an email from Rent The Runway saying they'd received my items. That easy.

Running from December 5 to March 5, Closet Concierge is currently available at W South Beach, W Aspen, W Washington D.C., and W Hollywood with plans to expand. It allows travelers to rent 4 pieces (for $69 USD) and have them shipped directly to the aforementioned hotel of their choice. Not only can you choose from the entire Unlimited closet, you can select pieces from a curated assortment from Rent The Runway editors, based on trends, popular designers, and the current climate at your destination. The new feature aims to transform "the way our guests pack and dress as they travel," Anthony Ingham, Global Brand Leader at W Hotels said in a press release. "Skipping the packing process is a whole new level of luxury for our guests and is yet another surprising way we continue to reinvent hospitality.” 

About my packing process: I traveled solely with a purse and my backpack. Flatter than ever, my long-suffering backpack held only 2 pairs of shoes, a few toiletries (like Glossier lip balm, Supergoop sunscreen, and a ton of hair gel), intimates, and 2 swimsuits. I didn't even bother bringing my carry-on luggage this time, which did throw me for a loop because I'm just so used to lugging it around. I kept randomly thinking I was forgetting something — but no, just a girl and her backpack and purse on a 3-hour flight to Miami. It took some adjusting to, for sure, but I felt more lighthearted and free than I ever have traveling. Also, what is a checked baggage fee? I don't know her. 
That's not to say Closet Concierge doesn't have its challenges. There's the looming threat of finding out that your rented piece doesn't fit, and then scrambling to find a replacement. Luckily, the Rent The Runway team is on call for those situations specifically. "The same policy that we have for Reserve rentals apply to RTR Closet Concierge," Maureen Sullivan, president of Rent the Runway explained. With the Reserve policy, if an item doesn't fit, RTR will overnight a replacement style.
I'd also recommend sticking to silhouettes you can trust (I'm a fit-and-flare fan) and reading the reviews carefully on the app. You can filter them with your size and height to see how the dress fits on similar body types. Most RTR reviewers will tell you if you need to size up or down. I also packed one extra dress, to be safe, but didn't even end up using it.
This pilot installment of Closet Concierge is the first of many innovative features from Rent The Runway. "We hope to scale nationally at W locations across the country in the future," Sullivan said. "RTR has created this new model of 'dynamic ownership,' which has fostered a new consumer behavior that was considered an anomaly in fashion in 2009 when we launched. Flash forward 10 years and more and more consumers are embracing this different way of thinking about getting dressed and their clothing consumption overall." That kind of innovation is to be expected from the rental service that completely changed how so many of us shop. Why wouldn't they change how we travel next?
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