Rent the Runway and coworking firm WeWork have launched a partnership that involves various collaborations, starting with a network of Rent the Runway drop-offs at 15 WeWork locations in New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Miami, according to a WeWork press release emailed to Retail Dive.
WeWork is also hosting Rent the Runway pop-ups at several locations, and "spotlighting 10 influential female WeWork members," in a "Women of the Future" campaign featuring fashion photos and commentary. WeWork members will receive discounted Rent the Runway memberships, the company said in a blog post.
The coworking firm previously collaborated with J. Crew for J. Crew pop-ups at select WeWork locations and a workshop series for entrepreneurs that involved a fashion campaign featuring WeWork members styled in a J. Crew workwear.
WeWork now ranks as New York City’s largest office tenant, according to an email to Retail Dive from Green Street Advisors. The company boasts more than 268,000 members and 287 locations in 77 cities and 23 countries, a spokesperson told Retail Dive in an email.
The company has also branched into various business areas, including the establishment of a gym in New York, the acquisition of coding education institution Flatiron School and plans for an elementary school.
Its rapid growth hasn’t been without pains. Earlier this year some investors were alarmed about reports that the company’s costs were outpacing its revenues and worries about its ability to repay its bonds. Just this week, WeWork global real estate chief and longtime executive Mark Lapidus left, the company confirmed to Retail Dive in an email. But the company declined to comment further regarding any shakeup in its real estate operations, as described in The Real Deal, citing unnamed sources.
Meanwhile the company continues to delve more deeply into retail.
The business plans to expand its WeMRKT concept, dedicated to selling products made by WeWork members, including healthy snacks, office necessities and branded apparel, to 500 more locations "over the next couple of years, along with an e-commerce store." Before that, WeWork landed a partnership of sorts with Hudson's Bay Company-owned Lord & Taylor when it bought the retailer's iconic Fifth Avenue property for $850 million in October last year. The department store will continue to operate in an upper floor of its iconic 5th Avenue space while WeWork builds its New York headquarters there.
Ever since that acquisition, the company was said to be mulling an expansion into retail, and in its blog post Thursday, WeWork notes that CFO Artie Minson considers the Rent-the-Runway partnership to be "one more way the company is moving into retail."
For Rent the Runway, the partnership offers another brick-and-mortar marketing channel. Today, the company has five stores in major metro markets, including one in a Neiman Marcus department store. The total footprint, even years from now, won't rise dramatically, CEO and co-founder Jennifer Hyman told Retail Dive earlier this year, adding that over time she could potentially see a total of 20 to 25 Rent the Runway physical locations in the U.S.
"We continue to see retail stores as being supplemental to the customer experience," Hyman told Retail Dive in January. Physical locations, whether technically stores are not, are one way digitally native brands like Rent the Runway can boost awareness and engagement with customers. And moving into existing WeWork locations is a cost effective way to do so.