Rent The Runway Is Now Renting In-House Labels Next To Designer Goods

Rent The Runway, your one-stop shop for fancy dresses to wear to your college roommate’s black tie wedding, is now renting its own in-house label alongside actual designers like Badgley Mischka and Nicole Miller. According to BuzzFeed, dresses from a brand called Slate & Willow have been quietly inserted next to the more known designer dresses and are available to rent, despite the fact that they’ve never actually been sold in a store.

For example, this Slate & Willow “Aileen” dress says it retails for $395, but can be rented for $50 for four days. An actual designer dress, like this Badgley Mischka “Midnight Kiss” dress, is $10 cheaper to rent and retails for $100 more. According to a spokesperson, Rent The Runway sets the price “based on the cost of production.”

“Just like the items from the designer partners in our inventory — which are also not sold, just rented — we include the retail value to add context for our customers so they can make informed purchasing/renting decisions,” the spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

The website doesn’t mention the fact that Slate & Willow is an in-house brand created entirely by Rent The Runway and not actually sold in stores.

The average consumer might not pick up on Slate & Willow not being a real designer brand. The ampersand in the name gives it a bit of bourgeois, upwardly mobile appeal, which was a smart move on their part but a kind of disappointing one for the consumer. The whole point of Rent The Runway is to rent clothes that were conceivably once on a runway, attached to a model stallion walking in heels, not a dress that was never sold in stores and was designed to merely ape the look and feel of actual designer dresses while also costing more.

I’m sure the Slate & Willow dresses are fine. There’s nothing explicitly wrong with this business practice, but there’s value in transparency, which is something that Rent The Runway should possibly consider.