Rent the Runway will engage in a number of “firsts” this weekend—first presence at SXSW, first pop-up activation and first time showing its West Elm home textile offerings.
Rent the Runway is a subscription service that allows subscribers to borrow designer fashion for less than the cost of a purchase. The 10-year old brand was listed number nine on CNBC’s list of ‘Disruptor 50’ companies, alongside giants like SpaceX and Uber.
Beginning this summer, Rent the Runway customers will be able to rent home items like throw pillows and quilts through a partnership with West Elm. SXSW attendees can visit the West Elm store on 5th Street Austin this weekend to view and touch a specially-curated collection.
In addition to home items, guests can shop as SXSW-themed Rent the Runway clothing and accessory collection, including designs from Victoria Beckham, Reformation and Brock Collection.
SXSW can be a hectic time, so keeping in the theme of making “women feel empowered and self-confident every single day,” the pop-up will offer free hair and makeup styling appointments throughout the event. “Cosmic readings” will also be available on-site.
Rent the Runway will also host its first SXSW panel called “Living a Rented Life” on March 9. There, West Elm and Rent the Runway will explore disruption in the sharing economy.
Each year, brands, speakers and attendees descend on SXSW to share and discuss new ideas. The festival is a fitting platform for both Rent the Runway and West Elm who can reach their target audience at a time when they are searching for inspiration.
Like many direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, Rent the Runway is also venturing into the physical space. The clothing rental service has five permanent locations in NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, DC and Woodland Hills, CA.
During Advertising Week New York 2018, DTC mattress brand Casper said that the move to brick-and-mortar was never a matter of “if,” but a matter of “when.”
“For us, it wasn’t about the old model,” explained Capser CMO Jeff Brooks. “While some say it’s the death of retail, we think it’s the rebirth of retail.”