Rent the Runway adding physical stores, sportswear

Online retailer Rent the Runway expects to rent out around $1.35 billion worth of fashion products in 2015, up more than $500 million from last year, with the help of a sportswear line and additonal brick-and-mortar stores.

This week Rent the Runway started offering apparel across multiple categories from brands such as Nina Ricci, Carven and Opening Ceremony, reported Women's Wear Daily. The move is strategic in that the brand, established for special occasions, is now branching out.

"The goal is to change the level of engagement of membership so they see us as more than a place catering to special events," co-founder and CEO Jennifer Hyman told WWD.

The company opened its fifth physical store in Chicago this week. The 2,940-sq.-ft. space is set up like a showroom, and consumers pay $25 to book an appointment and try on possible garments for renting. The fashion retailer is looking for real estate in Los Angeles, Houston and Boston. The goal is 15 new locations. Rent the Runway joins the growing list of e-commerce players that are testing physical stores, including Warby Parker, Bonobos and even Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN).

Hyman has added new members to the current staff of 350, including Alexis Bryan Morgan from Lucky magazine who is acting as director of designer relations and special projects, and Sarah Tam, from Saks Fifth Avenue, who is acting as senior VP of merchandising and planning.

In July the company launched the $75 per month unlimited rental program, allowing users to rent any three handbags, sunglasses, scarves, outerwear, hats and jewelry at a time. The program added dresses in March at the same the monthly fee increased to $99.

For more:
-See this Women's Wear Daily article (subscription)

Related stories:
Rent the Runway to ender fast-fashion market
Gap finds missing shoppers, along with the right strategy
H&M gets David Beckham to go shirtless for the Super Bowl
H&M to pay textile workers living wage by 2018
Abercrombie, Aeropostale and American Eagle aren't for cool kids anymore