If you spotted more stylish young women than usual in Georgetown Monday night, odds are they were headed to the packed VIP opening party for the new Rent the Runway boutique on M Street. After doing a buildout on the 4,000-square-foot space, RTR’s founders, Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, invited several dozen guests to toast the launch of their first cohesive brick-and-mortar location. “We found that Washington is an incredibly important market for Rent the Runway,” says Hyman. “It’s first when it comes to brand awareness, and second, behind New York, in membership.”
For the uninitiated—though we assume if you’re reading Shop Around and live in DC, you are already initiated—Rent the Runway is an online market for dresses and accessories to rent for a handful of days, and then return, all for a fraction of the retail price. Most dresses rent for $75 to $250. The Georgetown store operates under that same principle: Nothing here is for sale, only for rent. “In addition to walk-in shoppers, for a $25 fee, customers can even book an appointment to come in and work directly with a stylist to find the perfect outfit,” says Fleiss, who started Rent the Runway with Hyman five years ago.
“Our customers are professional, educated, go-getters,” explains Hyman of the Washington client. “They need to optimize their time, while still thinking about every outfit for every occasion, and they need to do it in a smart way.”
With the new spot, you can call, tell the stylist you have to be at a wedding in two weeks and have no clue what to wear—it happens—book an appointment, and arrive to have 15 dresses and coordinating accessories waiting for you to try on, in dressing rooms with flattering, adjustable lighting systems. “It’s no muss, no fuss,” says Fleiss, “but it’s also really fun.”
The store is designed for comfortable lounging, with the most space dedicated to the trying-on area. There’s plenty of seating for friends, lots of well-lit displays of chunky necklaces (a Washington-girl-about-town staple), and more than 25 staff members to fulfill your fashion needs. And if you can’t find what you’re looking for inside the boutique, there are still the 80,000-odd dresses from more than 270 designers at Rent the Runway’s headquarters and shipping department.
“I think what’s nice is that it started as getting off-the-runway, real fashion and collections, at all price points,” says designer Christian Siriano, who attended the opening party, and whose designs have been carried via Rent the Runway since its inception. “It’s something for every girl, and that was always the goal.”
Rent the Runway. 3336 M St., NW; 202-774-5380.