Rent the Runway Comes to Chicago

—Elle Eichinger | December 5, 2012 | Homepage Latest The Latest

Last week, Rent the Runway fashion director Lucy Sykes Rellie came to town to introduce Chicago women to the innovative brand, which offers high-end, designer-label gowns, dresses, accessories, and more for rent. Held at the W Chicago - City Center, the event featured cocktails, light bites, music, and styling by Sykes Rellie and her team.

The great room was divided into five sections, each representing a neighborhood in Chicago and housing a handful of looks that fit the feel of each part of town. We caught up with Sykes Rellie and her RTR colleague, Ashley Savage, prior to the event.

Why did you want to come to Chicago?
ASHLEY SAVAGE: We feel like the women of Chicago have such a need for Rent the Runway: they have their charity galas, they have work parties, New Year’s Eve balls. During the holidays, women just have this huge event calendar. We aren’t saying to the women of Chicago, ‘Don’t buy dresses.’ We’re saying, ‘Buy the little black dress; rent the sparkly, sequined, one-shoulder gown.
LUCY SYKES RELLIE: It’s the ‘wow’ moment, that’s what we’re here for.

What kind of style are you seeing in Chicago?
LSR: The women here are sophisticated, chic. They are busy, and would like an option that goes from day to evening. [And] it’s cold! I love long-sleeve dresses, I love how they balance out.
AS: In Chicago—brrr!—you need to cover your arms.

Who are some of your own favorite designers, and some popular ones on RTR?
LSR: Calvin Klein is one of my favorite labels, especially the heavy jersey dresses that we chose from him [for RTR]. They’re absolutely stunning for fall. I love Badgley Mischka for all the sparkles and sequins. [On the site] Kate Spade is doing really well, and Nicole Miller.
AS: There are always household names that are going to do really well, but it changes for different events. For New Year’s Eve, everyone is looking for sparkle, so Badgley Mischka is off the shelves. Herve Leger is still one of the ones that we rent a lot of, because it's such an iconic bandage look.

Since launching, RTR has added accessories, beauty, and most recently, the Our Runway image-sharing feature [beauty for sale; accessories for sale or rent]. How do you decide what areas to expand into?
AS: We’re bursting at the seams. A lot of the evolution of the site came from the customer insights team, the stylists. When we first launched they would be on the phone with a customer who would say ‘I want to know what earrings to wear with this’ or ‘I want to have the lip that the model has on.’ Now we do beauty, accessories. We also sell Spanx, undergarments, fashion fixers. [Editor’s note: undergarments are for sale; not for rent].
LSR: It’s a one-stop shop. Ultimately, it’s not about the dress; it’s about the woman inside the dress, and what the power of a dress can do to [her]. That is the message that we’ve learned from our customers and everyone sending in their own pictures—how powerful these dresses have made them feel.

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