In an exclusive interview with Parents.com, CEO and cofounder Jennifer Hyman discussed the company's first extension into alternative apparel ownership for kids.

By Maressa Brown
April 05, 2019
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April 5, 2019

Used to be if you wanted to rock a Marc Jacobs dress, Stella McCartney blouse, or CELINE shades, shelling out big bucks to own it—or hunting for a bargain in a consignment shop—was the only way to go. But in 2009, Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss changed the game, co-founding Rent the Runway, which allowed women to experience what they call "dynamic ownership"—renting unlimited designer clothing and accessories for a set price. Over the past decade, the service has absolutely blown up, but for years, members have been asking the company to rent out kids' clothes, so their L.O.s can get in on the fun of enjoying an unlimited closet, too. Well, today, parents get their wish, because Rent the Runway just launched RTR Kids

RTR Kids will initially cater to Girls’ sizes 3Y to 10/12Y, and the platform will have built-in flexibility to add more than four items per rental order. Moms will be able to choose from everyday and special occasion outfits that are perfect for matching, "mommy and me" days and others that are uniquely for their little one. The service will function as an extension to RTR members' currently monthly subscription services, allowing them to choose from brands like Chloé, Fendi, Stella McCartney, Little Marc Jacobs, Marni, Philosophy, Milly Minis, LoveShackFancy Kids, and more. RTR Kids will also be available via Reserve, allowing customers to rent items for 4 or 8 days.

In an exclusive interview with Parents.com, CEO and cofounder Jennifer Hyman shares that she feels RTR Kids was a "natural extension." "So many of our members are moms, and they are the primary consumers and organizers for their family, so our mission is really to empower these women, make their lives easier, not only give them an unlimited closet but enable them to use that unlimited closet for their kids, as well," she says.

Hyman, who is expecting her second child with husband Benjamin Stauffer (the couple welcomed their daughter Aurora 2 years ago), says her personal experience of motherhood absolutely helped inspire and inform the extension.

"I think also the process of becoming a mom myself over the last two years, I've seen firsthand the amount of clothing that I'm constantly buying for my daughter Aurora, and three months later, she doesn't fit into it, and it feels like the perfect use case for Rent the Runway," Hyman explains. "Because your kids are constantly growing, you want them to feel great, and you want what they wear to be fun, but you're often compromising on what you're buying for your kids, because you know they're only using it for a limited time. So, Rent the Runway provides that solution for moms. They can dress their kids in amazing things, and they know they're signing up for this sustainable lifestyle."  

Another huge plus for moms of active, curious kiddos who may very well rip, tear, or spill sippy cups down their designer threads: "Rent the Runway owns the burden of dealing with the stains, the dry-cleaning, the laundry, the messiness of kids," Hyman says. "We know that we're fantastic at restoring garments to perfect condition and dealing with every rip, mess, or stain that comes back to us."

Though older kids might be more motivated to avoid messes while rocking their RTR Kids styles, as Hyman points out that the service can teach them about sharing. "This idea that they are part of a shared closet, and that they're going to wear this, but then they're going to give it back, and another kid is going to wear it after them," she says. "I think it's creating and teaching those values at the beginning."  

The service will launch with 13 designer brands that Hyman says "feel very special and very fun—and especially very fashion-forward, because this is about renting from Rent the Runway the very things that you've always wanted them to wear, but probably didn't make sense for you to buy." 

Just as they've done with their women's line, Rent the Runway will constantly update the Kids service with new designers, stylish looks.

In addition to RTR Kids, Rent the Runway hopes to make it easier for their members to rent more looks for themselves and/or their kids by launching "Extra Spots” for Unlimited and Update memberships, which will allow members to add a limitless number of additional spots in their current Unlimited and Update accounts. They'll be able to increase the number of spots each month as needed. Each additional spot will cost $39 per month for Unlimited and $25 for Update.

"Imagine, if April, you want to rent some clothing for your daughter for Easter or a fun spring picnic you're having, and you want six spots, four things for yourself and two things for your daughter, now, you have the ability to do that," Hyman notes.

For moms of budding fashionistas, the launch of RTR Kids is truly celebratory news. "[Our members] have been asking for this for years," Hyman says. "And I think they're just going to be really excited when they see the styles we're launching, because they're beautiful." 

The soon-to-be mom of two shares that 2-year-old Aurora recently got a sneak peek at some of the RTR Kids looks. "We're having an event this Sunday, and I rented a few things for her, and she tried all four of them on this morning, and she got to pick which one she wanted to wear to our party, and like, she already has an opinion and a point of view," Hyman says. "She was twirling around, and she told me that two of them were too big on her, and you know, it's amazing. I love the idea of kids actually having a voice and choosing what they want to wear and how fun that is. It's bringing the magic of dress-up into their everyday lives."

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