Covid Sent Rent The Runway To The Brink. Now The Fashion Business Is Ready For The Reopening Boom

In early February 2020, Jennifer Hyman, the cofounder and CEO of Rent the Runway, was in build mode.

Her fashion subscription business, which for $159 a month let customers borrow hundreds of thousands of designer items like Hugo Boss blazers, Marc Jacobs mini-bags and Saint Laurent sunglasses, was growing faster than 100% per year. To stoke growth, Hyman was busy sealing deals with designers to deliver more rent-friendly looks and clothing categories to her style-hungry clientele.

Meanwhile, on the grittier and more complex side of the business, she was contemplating the construction of an expensive third distribution facility to take pressure off her two massive hubs in Dallas, Texas, and Secaucus, New Jersey, that received, cleaned and mended an endless parade of worn clothes (Rent the Runway operates the largest dry cleaner in the world) before swiftly packing and shipping them out again.

At the same time, she was also putting the final touches on a new, loft-chic headquarters in Brooklyn’s hip Dumbo neighborhood, due to open in the spring. “We were solely focused on growth,” says Hyman, 40. “Growing our subscribers, growing our selection of clothes and accelerating ways we worked with brands who see us as their most important acquisition and data partner.”