Pret-a-Reporter

Rent the Runway Under Fire for Marketing Wholesale Brands as "Exclusive," Driving Up Price

Courtesy of Rent the Runway
Rent the Runway

Angered customers claim that the marketing of the company's new "in-house" labels is misleading, and that the same dresses can be found for hundreds less on competitors' sites.

Rent the Runway, a digital e-commerce site which allows customers to rent designer dresses, has come under fire for allegedly marketing two brands as exclusive in-house labels when in fact they are also sold at department stores — often at much, much lower prices.

BuzzFeed first reported that customers began noticing that dresses from company's new "in-house" brands, Slate & Willow and Ella Carter, were popping up on department store websites such as Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom under different labels. In some instances, retail price (which is listed alongside the dress's rental price) on Rent the Runway's site was marked up as much as $200.     

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Though it's not a crime to mark up the price of an item, many customers are upset over the misleading nature of the "exclusive" marketing of the labels, especially given the fact that the dresses are placed alongside high-end gowns by designers such as Badgley Mischka and Nicole Miller, which leads consumers to believe that they are also high-end labels — not wholesale dresses which can be found on a department store rack.

Rent the Runway tells BuzzFeed that the reason for the disparity in pricing is due to the fact that the department stores "purchased [designs] from a manufacturer that acquired the manufacturer we had worked with — and these companies likely bought a higher volume, driving down the cost.”

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