New Website Lets You Rent Dresses Like DVDs

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For many women, a $1,000 dress is something they admire in the pages of a glossy magazine or see draped on the frame of a celebrity — not an item hanging in their closet.

But a nascent Web site called Rent the Runway is hoping to make high-end fashions much more accessible and almost as easy as renting a movie from Netflix.

The mail-order service, which finishes the testing phase on Monday, allows women to rent dresses from notable fashion designers like for roughly one-tenth of what they would cost to buy in a retail store.

The rentals run $50 to $200 for a four-night loan and are shipped directly to the customer’s doorstep. After wearing the dress, she puts it into a prepaid envelope and drops it in the mail. Dry cleaning is included in the price, but damage insurance costs $5, and in the case of outright destruction of the dress, the renter is responsible for the full retail price.

Rent the Runway was founded by two recent Harvard Business School graduates, Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Carter Fleiss. Ms. Hyman got the idea for the service last year after watching her younger sister agonize over whether to buy an expensive new outfit to wear to a wedding. “Here was this young girl who loves fashion and was willing to spend a good portion of her salary on a dress that she’s only going to wear once or twice, and I thought, there has to be a solution for this. (From The New York Times)

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