Now what you wear in Vegas can stay in Vegas too.
Just in time for New Year’s Eve, the Rent the Runway website is opening a brick-and-mortar boutique at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas with rental dresses and accessories from Badgley Mischka, Halston Heritage, Herve Leger and more.
The store, which opens Dec. 27, will offer same-day rental of dresses sizes 0 to 22, from $50 to $450. The next morning, after you’ve woken up (hopefully, not still in the dress), you can return it to the store or pop it in the mail. And the dry cleaning will be taken care of courtesy of Rent the Runway’s very capable Secaucus, N.J.-based facility.
“Las Vegas is one of the top destinations our customers travel to and rent for,” says Jennifer Hyman, who co-founded Rent the Runway four years ago with her Harvard Business School pal Jennifer Fleiss. “We were already sending thousands of dresses to the Strip. Women were renting for bachelorette parties, trips they were taking with husbands and boyfriends. We saw this influx of sequins being sent to Las Vegas and an incredible opportunity to partner with one of the trendiest hotels and open a store right before New Year's Eve, which is one of our biggest nights of the year.”
Those with fantasies of dressing like Celine Dion or Cher for a big night out at Marquee need look no further. Merchandise will be curated for Sin City, “because when you go to Vegas, you always realize you don’t have dresses short enough, bright enough or tight enough,” says Fleiss.
The 2,000-square-foot store will have 200 styles and a total of 700 dresses to choose from. Customers will be able to leave the store with dress in hand in 15 minutes.
“When you think about the culture of Las Vegas, it’s innately social and it’s about spectacle," says Lisa Marchese, chief marketing officer of the Cosmopolitan. "To put a rental experience in a market where you’re often buying for one-time wear is a real opportunity.”
Travel has been an important category for the brand, says Fleiss. “When women travel, they have more events in general. And with all the new luggage rules and fees, it’s so much more convenient, rather than having to fold up your dress and worry about getting it wrinkled, just to have it shipped to your destination or have options to rent when you get there.”
Rent the Runway hopes to cater to the bachelorette and wedding party crowd with group rentals and boozy styling parties. Customers can even shop from a cocktail menu of styles, including the Manhattan (floor-length dresses), the Fireball (straight-up sequins) and the Lemon Drop (sweet silhouettes).
In four years, Rent the Runway has attracted 4 million members. Rather than buying stock from retail stores, the website partners with designers, giving them “an experiential marketing tool” that includes exposure to potential new customers, analytical data on what styles are most popular, and feedback on how dresses fit. In return, Rent the Runway pays wholesale for dresses, and can offer them to rent for up to 90% off the retail price.
The Las Vegas store is the second offline destination for the website, which is based in New York with 250 employees. The first opened in October at Henri Bendel in New York. At stores, in addition to same-day rentals, women can try on dresses, save them to a virtual closet and rent them at a later date.
“In New York, the store is merchandised for the busy woman who wants to come in for 30 minutes and have all her outfits for the year prepped and ready to go,” Hyman says. “In Las Vegas, it will be more about getting people revved up for their night out.”
When I first met Hyman and Fleiss a few years ago, I wasn’t entirely convinced their business concept would work, mostly because I thought it would be difficult to get designers on board. But now, they say designers are contacting them.
Rent the Runway at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas opens Dec. 27 at 3708 S. Las Vegas Blvd., on the resort’s second level.