High Fashion for Low Prices with Rent the Runway UCSB


Yuen Sin
Staff Writer

Photo Courtesy of Christopher Ascurak

So you’ve got it all planned out for that classy Winter formal at the end of this quarter: your eye is set on that amazing Hervé Léger dress that you’ve picked out online, you’ve meticulously flicked through every fashion magazine for the trendiest color combinations for accessories, and you’ve even buggered your friends to death about what they’re going to wear just so that nobody’s going to clash with what you’re wearing.

But then disaster strikes: despite putting in extra hours at your part-time job on campus and (unsuccessfully) trying to cut down on your weekend drinking expenses, you’re still a few hundred dollars away from acquiring the dress of your dreams.

Rent the Runway can aid in the dilemma. As a designer fashion rental website pioneered by two women in 2009, Rent the Runway allows customers to flip through lookbooks online and rent dresses for a fraction of the original retail price, featuring an array of over 100 designer brands in dresses and accessories such as Kate Spade, Vera Wang, BCBGMAXAZRIA and Oscar de la Renta.

Under the Runway Rep program for colleges, which are managed by groups of student representatives, the rental process is streamlined and made convenient for university students. At University of California, Santa Barbara, interested parties can sign up at http://www.renttherunway.com/ucsb, browse through and pick their favorite pieces, post them on the Facebook event page by the RTR team present on campus with sizes, and get to physically try them on at a trunk show in Isla Vista before deciding whether to rent them or not.

One of the student representatives from the team of seven at UCSB, fourth-year communication major Danielle Sabalvaro, explained that she got involved in this scheme “because [she] was excited about the entrepreneurship and marketing experience [she] would get being a Runway Rep.” Sabalvaro continued, It’s an exciting opportunity to be a part of a well-established brand in the fashion world while promoting the idea of renting designer dresses to our friends on campus.”

While the UCSB RTR program seems to be mainly targeted at sororities, anyone can join and browse looks on the user-friendly website, which can be sorted by size and event type such as “Girls’ Night Out” and “Cocktail Attire”. Users also post reviews, ratings and photographs of the outfits that they had rented. The business currently offers only women’s fashion (sorry, guys!).

The first RTR trunk show was held at UCSB last November, with substantial discounts offered on the online rental prices: dresses that cost $75 or less to rent on the site went for $50, while some Hervé Léger dresses that were originally $125 to rent were priced at $65. First-year film and media studies major, Erica Hutchinson, who picked her dress out directly from one of the representatives’ apartments, said that “I could take as much time as I needed to pick the perfect dress, and it was also convenient for me. I loved my dress; it was beautiful and elegant,” adding that she probably would rent from RTR again.

However, she suggested that it would be helpful if more trunk shows were organized on campus every quarter, as these shows are currently limited.

The UCSB RTR team is planning for a sorority contest and another trunk show in the upcoming Spring quarter. To be kept updated on Rent the Runway UCSB events, follow them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RTRUCSB.