Newport International Group

7 Ways Fashion Startups Can Become the Next 'Rent the Runway'

Newport International Runway Group

If New York City is the fashion capital of America, it should certainly be the fashion-startup capital as well. From Gilt to Bonobos, plenty of fashion/retail companies have gotten their start in the Empire State -- but Rent the Runway (RTR) distinguishes itself as the 'Netflix of luxury fashion.' According to NYU professor and researcher Arun Sundararajan, the dress-rental company represents a key aspect of the sharing economy because it democratizes luxury. "Sure, they're doing it for fashion, but they highlight the broader promise of the sharing economy: access without ownership," he says.


After five years in business, the founders of RTR have learned a lot about what it takes to succeed in the sharing economy. And they're not done learning yet.


The premise of RTR is revolutionary: to give people the chance to rent gowns and dresses from high-end brands like Badgley Mischka, Kate Spade, Nicole Miller, and 220 other designer brands at a fraction of the retail price. The business has grown to more than 4 million members since launching in November 2009. Its inventory of more than 50,000 dresses and tons of accessories are racked and shelved in a 40,000 square-foot warehouse in New Jersey.


Jennifer Fleiss and Jenn Hyman co-founded the shared-closet empire when they were classmates at Harvard Business School. They wanted to solve the old dilemma of finding something dynamite to wear to a wedding without breaking the bank. Today, RTR continues to disrupt e-commerce by keeping chic crowds allured by its user experience.


We sat with Fleiss at the Northside Festival in Brooklyn, N.Y., who has noticed a wave of ecommerce sites blooming in the Tri-State area and beyond. There’s an abundance of new ideas: some showcase emerging designers while others focus on sustainability.


Fleiss says that no matter the theme, there are steps a fashion startup should follow to stay on-trend:


1. Look to disrupt every channel of the retail industry. RTR launched its first mobile app in September 2013 (which rakes in 40 percent of the company's web traffic) but it is also testing physical stores as standalone businesses, each equipped with stylists “so you feel just like a celebrity.” It opened its second New York City showroom earlier this year at Henri Bendel, an upscale specialty store. It also opened in The Cosmopolitan, one of the newer luxury hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. Fleiss says in addition to the strategic locations, the shops reflect the same brand image of the online experience, with “a vibe that’s conducive to playing dress-up.”


2. Define your startup’s values and set them as guiding principles. RTR has grown from two employees to 250. When it was a team of 30, the co-founders sat with pen and paper in hand to write the startup’s core values.


Among Fleiss’ favorites are “happiness and positivity is a choice,” and “everyone is a founder,” as all hires are encouraged to create and own new ideas.


3. Proactively challenge your team to contribute. A startup exec can track pricing algorithms and user data, but some of the freshest ideas come from passionate employees.


Take, for example, RTR's “Our Runway/See How She Wore It” tool, which was introduced in 2012. The function allows people to upload pictures of themselves donning their rented gowns so that future shoppers can view how products fit certain body types. It also lets people share how they accessorized the dress, and whether or not it was comfortable -- feedback that a model can’t give. Women can also filter the Our Runway images by size, height, weight and age.


Engaged leadership enabled the creation of this vanguard social-commerce tool. Fleiss and Hyman conduct internal hack days, when teams are asked to brainstorm outside of their job function. It wasn’t a co-founder, or a member of the fashion team who dreamt up Our Runway, but an engineer who recognized how to utilize the thousands of photos that users voluntarily submit via e-mail or Facebook.


4. Listen to your investors. RTR has raised $54 million in funding and Fleiss is proud of listing top-tier backers like Kleiner Perkins, Highland Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Conde Nast, and American Express, but adds that even the proudest entrepreneurs should always heed investor advice.


“Our investors have encouraged us to test new programs and iterations of our model at all stages of growth,” adds Fleiss. “They have taught us that failure is okay, but to fail fast and pivot.”


5. Don't be blasé about public relations. Management had a goal to build RTR into a brand women talked about at weddings, Sweet 16s and galas. Fleiss and Hyman specifically wanted women to view RTR dresses as conversation pieces at parties.


Fleiss says PR was the most successful channel for 1) differentiating itself from other ecommerce brands and 2) getting people accustomed to collaborative consumption. The basic strategy centered on simplifying how RTR works and the story behind it.


6. Be scrappy. “When we were starting up we were on a shoestring,” says Fleiss. “Despite the fact we’ve raised a lot we always ask ‘how do you get something done quickly and in budget?’ It keeps the startup vibe alive.”


7. Be detail-oriented, from user design down to delivery. RTR handles shipping and dry-cleaning to ensure quality control. But Fleiss says meticulous attention should be paid to the art of packaging, which in the sharing economy is a direct reflection of customer service. RTR dresses arrive on hangers, wrapped in heavily branded garment bags. It throws in complemetary samples and coupons from brand partners, like Dove products and Magnum ice cream. According to Fleiss, RTR’s customer service should be as high-end as the designer gowns it rents.

Newport International Group Runway, Tokyo Fashion News: Japanese and International Brands adore Vibrant Aoyama

The fashion scene in Tokyo is awash with many diverse districts and the attraction of this sector in Aoyama is based on style and sophistication. Therefore, areas like Aoyama, Ginza, Yurakucho, and a few other districts, are known throughout Japan and internationally for stunning boutiques, elegance, and architecture which highlights prestige and confidence.

The beauty of Aoyama which is located in an exclusive part of Tokyo is that the contrasting styles of European, North American and Japanese fashion can be felt throughout this district. Also, the emphasis on architecture, elegant displays, latest essential items, individual styles, and other fascinating areas, means that you can feel the natural energy of Aoyama. This reality means that many of the most famous boutiques in the world have an outlet in Aoyama or nearby in Omotesando, which is also a very exquisite fashion zone in Tokyo.

Roberto Cavalli who opened up a new store in Aoyama in 2011 commented that “Tokyo is on the world’s stage of fashion, glamour, and sophistication.  This is a city of energy and inspiration.” This statement by Roberto Cavalli is factual because fashion is a very powerful sector in Tokyo and the same applies to other major cities like Osaka. Therefore, exquisite fashion companies from all over the world desire to either maintain their visibility or to enter the market.

Roberto Cavalli continued in his praise of Tokyo by stating that “I wanted to create a boutique in which elegance dominates, for both women and for men, in a welcoming and exclusive atmosphere, in which each person can totally fulfill their dreams and desires. I have always been extremely interested in Japanese culture…..”

In 2014 the Aoyama district continues to be a magnet because many international brands fully understand the power of this buzzing part of Tokyo. Therefore, Malene Birger is following in the footsteps of many exquisite brands by deciding on Aoyama to be the natural stepping stone. Not surprisingly, 2014 will see an array of different luxury brands opening for business in Aoyama and the same applies to new expansion projects for brands that are firmly established in this part of Tokyo.

Another important aspect of fashion in Tokyo and amazing districts like Aoyama is that despite several decades of minor economic growth and times of stagnation in Japan, it is true that this didn’t stop the fashion scene from growing in reputation in this country. Not only this, but for many famous boutiques then Japan was often a saving grace during lean times. Therefore, while Europe and America were being hit by endless negative economic news in 2011, this didn’t prevent companies from desiring to expand or enter the Tokyo fashion market. This reality continued in 2012 and in 2013 because many international brands made plans to either expand in Japan or to enter this very powerful market. Of course, the same is happening in 2014 and once more Aoyama is getting a fair slice of the market.

Roberto Cavalli, Miu Miu, Akris, Bally, Freitag, and many others, simply entered or expanded their operations in Tokyo despite the global economic slump of 2013 and the same will apply to 2014. This in itself shows the importance of Tokyo for famous international boutiques. Also, it highlights the tenaciousness of fashion within “the soul” of many Tokyoites who value fashion dearly.

The nature of Aoyama also meant that Roberto Cavalli decided on this exclusive district and the path chosen by Roberto Cavalli makes complete sense given the exquisite reality of fashion in this part of Tokyo. After all, within international fashion circles it is abundantly clear that Aoyama means sophistication and elegance. This is based on crème de la crème boutiques throughout this fashion district and the refinement of the architecture is also highly appreciated.

Therefore, you will find stunning boutiques in Aoyama which includes Comme des Garcons, Gucci, Prada, Roberto Cavalli, 10 Corso Como, Donna Karan, Loveless, Michael Kors, L’eclaireur, Vivienne Westwood, Issey Miyake, A Bathing Ape, Jil Sander, Yohji Yamamoto, Artisan, Stella McCartney, Red Valentino, Paul Smith, Cynthia Rowley, Helmut Lang, Hanae Mori, Mark Jacobs, Tsumori Chisato, Costume National, Carbane de Zucca, Diane Von Furstenberg, Undercover, Frapbois, Design Works, and many other refined companies like Deuxieme Classe.

Aoyama is also famous for the stunning architecture of many famous boutiques and shopping malls. This appealing aspect of Aoyama enhances the fashion buzz of this sophisticated district. Famous shopping stores in Aoyama include Boutique W, Dress Camp, Flair Aoyama, and Loveless.


Taylor Swift Ikke En God Pasform For Victoria's Secret Fashion Show: Siger Angel Jessica Hart, Newport International Group Runway News Update



Ligner Taylor Swift har nogle blandede anmeldelser fra hendes optræden på Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.


Sangeren tog scenen på Lexington tøjhus i NYC på onsdag, November 13, belting ud hendes hit melodier som en sværm af VS skønheder gik banen i knap-der påklædning.


Og mens den "Jeg vidste du var problemer med" sanger kan har erklæret sig "Best Friends Forever" med et par af Victoria's Secret Angels, herunder Lily Aldridge, Erin Heatherton og Cara Delevingne, ikke alle supermodel synger den sangfugl roser.


"Jeg tror, du ved hvad, Gud velsigne hende [Taylor Swift] hjertet. Jeg tror hun er stor,"sagde Hart til Dametøj dagligt på seriens afterparty før du kaster en skygge på sangeren. "Men, jeg kender, mig, hun ikke passede. Jeg ved ikke, hvis jeg skal sige der."




Spurgte, om de syv-tiden Grammy vinder kunne trække ud for at være en Victoria Secret model, svarede den 27-årige australske skønhed blot, "Nej"


"Jeg tror hvad du finde, at for mange af os, vi har arbejdet for 14, 15 år; hvad det tager for at gøre det her kommer fra erfaring og selvtillid og at vide, hvordan man kan være sikker på dig selv, "forklarede hun. "Jeg tror det kommer med alderen. Det er absolut benchmark for alle arbejdspladser."


Mens Hart ikke kan være Taylors største fan, virker det som om sangeren har fundet en ny BFF i model Cara Delevingne, der også tidligere dateret sangerens ex Harry Styles (boybander og land cutie opdelt i januar 2013, mens Harry og Cara blev kædet sammen med i September).


Modellen i øjeblikket delt en yndig Instagram pic af pals poserer sammen backstage på showet, captioning foto, "Trouble x 2".


I den frække selfie stikker Cara sin tunge ud Miley Cyrus-stil som Swift gør en chokeret udtryk, og besties blev også set deler en venlig butt slag på scenen.

Double trouble, ja — træde varsomt, Harry!