Last month I got the gift of one-month unlimited subscription of Rent the Runway (RTR). It was exciting as I have been talking about in my classes as a viable option for shared clothing and circular economy. Reading and talking about it is one thing, and a lived experience is another. I enjoyed the experience as it gave me several new to me designer, one of a kind pieces to wear. RTR accomplished its mission; I felt empowered and self-confident every day. The process of finding the styles, sizes and appropriate sizes was an involving but fascinating process. I could not have done it without my fashionista daughter’s help. She showed me the reviews and pictures of others wearing the pieces I wanted, and edit my decisions for size and style. Every time we would get on our devices, heart items, discuss each, and make selections. There was an adrenaline rush for getting the items, and ordering promptly so ensure 12-noon shipping cut off to get the most value of the rental.
Not only I did not buy new but the garments typically came in a reusable bag, that was sustainable too. So RTR is true to its sustainability mantra of rent, reduce, reuse.
I did not renew as I have two more questions and dilemmas – 1. Few of the pieces I received had a musty odor; I could not figure out whether to blame the weather or the cleaning or the packing? Each garment goes through dry-cleaning using green chemicals? Or is it spot cleaning for some? Or some can be washed? I would like to know how the garment was cleaned when it was sent to me. Transparency goes hand-in-hand with sustainability. I gave them the feedback to perhaps give a QR code on the account which tells the user about the maintenance and care the garment received before it is shipped. I think that is a viable solution. Do you agree?
2. RTR gives good data on their carbon footprint, waste reduction, etc. But, I am still debating how to offset the shipping. What is the footprint of shipping multiple times? In my one month of trial, I received four shipments, and I sent back four adding a total of eight times from New Jersey to Minnesota and back. What was the environmental impact of my empowerment? At this time, I do not have a viable solution for this issue. I am hoping that RTR is thinking about it and investing in research to resolve this.
Some key facts that I would like to highlight for RTR in addition to sustainability is community building, entrepreneurship support, and hope that Jenn got my rental feedback and is reading this as well. I believe that RTR will further disrupt and change the world.