Here’s How Rent the Runway is Attracting Fashion Conscious Millennials

Brought to you by WBR Insights

We hear a lot about the millennial market these days, and with good reason. While certain sections of the population and media use the term synonymously with “young people” the fact of the matter is that most millennials are now in their 30s.

This means they are taking their place in the middle to higher levels of global industry. More importantly, they are the ones looking to spend their hard-earned money on the products and experiences they enjoy.

However, the tastes of millennial customers are quite different from the generations which have come before. This is something that innovative fashion and clothing disruptor, Rent the Runway is all too aware of and has been marketing itself specifically to this demographic.

Rent the Runway

For the uninitiated, Rent the Runway allows customers to rent a range of designer clothing for a four- or eight-day period for as little as 10% of the product’s retail price. Each dress rental includes a backup size to increase the convenience of trying to find the perfect fit. The company also offers a subscription service where customers can receive unlimited or four items per month at a lower total cost than renting separately.

This model is perfect for those millennial customers who want to look their best but, thanks to high living costs, find it hard to justify the financial outlay of keeping up with the metaphorical Joneses. The ability to rent those same fashions for a fraction of the cost means they can save money while still stepping out with a regular fresh look.

According to Euromonitor, “the purchase estimate for both men’s and women’s clothing has slowed down in the past few years but menswear has started to challenge womenswear. Euromonitor predicts that this will continue, forecasting that men’s clothing sales will grow up to 1.7% as compared to women’s 1.4%. This is mostly due to exposure of men’s fashion on social media platforms like Instagram and dress codes for men easing up over the years, according to Fashion and Beauty consultants.”

However, the subscription box industry is booming and has been seeing steady growth over the last five or so years. Millennials are leading the way in this regard too, with 31% presently subscribed to some kind of physical goods service and 38% at the consideration stage of subscription.

Fashion can be prohibitively expensive, especially for those generations who don’t have the same levels of disposable income as their forebearers. Rent the Runway fills this gap in the market nicely with its elegant, convenient, and affordable solution.


There is one factor which millennials tend to put ahead of price however, and that’s their desire to only do business with brands which have ethics and policies which align with their own moral compasses.

According to Greenpeace, “The proportion of synthetic fibers, such as polyester, in our garments has doubled since 2000, rising to 60% in 2019. These fibers are produced from oil. One polyester shirt has a 5.5kg carbon footprint, compared to just 2.1kg for a cotton shirt. If demand continues to grow at the current rate, the total carbon footprint of clothing would grow to 3,978 megatons by 2050. This is equivalent to almost double the carbon emissions of India in 2018. It would mean that by 2050, the industry would monopolize 26% of the global carbon budget required to keep the planet within two degrees of warming.”

Rent the Runway was more than aware of these trends and actively promotes itself as an alternative model to the obscenely disposable industry fashion has become. Thanks in part to the rise of cheap clothing brands such as Primark, customers think nothing of wearing an article once or twice and throwing it out.

With Rent the Runway, not only do environmentally conscious fashion fans get to access a better quality of stylish clothing, but they can also be comfortable in the knowledge that those items will be enjoyed by many other people besides themselves, instead of ending up in a landfill somewhere.

When clothes reach the end of their rental life — due to fashions and trends moving on — Rent the Runway gives them a new lease by selling them at a discounted rate — further extending the lifespan of its products.

Final Thoughts

Despite often having financial limitations, millennial customers are an incredibly discerning bunch — prioritizing factors such as sustainability and experience over cost. However, by successfully offering a sustainable and convenient service at an affordable price, Rent the Runway does some good while remaining attractive to this lucrative demographic.

For more insights, join us at eTail Boston 2020, being held at The Sheraton, Boston.

Please download the agenda today for more information.

Return to Blog