Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Hyman is optimistic that there will be a surge in trend-setting styles once we get through this long, gloomy winter.
Hyman, who told Fortune in an interview about how the 11-year-old company is staying afloat while customers stay at home, said “every single area of the business is focused on May” — the month she believes will kick off a major fashion Renaissance.
“I think the back half of 2021 is going to be the best moment in time for the fashion industry that I’ve seen in my career,” she said.
“When we’re able to celebrate, we’re able to take vacations, we’re able to go back into the office, people are going to want to show up in their own lives with passion,” Hyman continued. “And as that corresponds to fashion, I think that people are going to be wearing bolder outfits, they’re going to care about being noticed.”
She added that, while the pandemic has taken a toll — especially on women juggling jobs and kids — more women will be able to enter and maintain executive roles because of the flexibility of working remotely.
“I think that we’re going to see way more women able to have C-level jobs and be super successful in those jobs, because the requirements of what it takes to be a C-level executive is fundamentally changing,” Hyman said.
Other operational changes for Rent the Runway: The fashion subscription service has shuttered its five storefronts and replaced them with “Swap Stop” vans, and Hyman said employees will come into the office only a few days a week post-pandemic.
“Our own plan is to lean into flexibility,” she said. “And we think that’s a major change from how we’ve operated in the past.”
The subscription model still works, but Hyman said the difference now is that customers know what they want as opposed to needing time to browse. She has focused on a more efficient system, sending a Millennial-pink van to different locations in the city and tweeting to let customers know where they can pick up and drop off their outfits.
The company has also implemented a pay-as-you-go model, allowing customers more flexibility with their subscriptions.
“The goal has always been to create a more personalized subscription program, where people could flex up or flex down their usage based on what was going on in their life, and that would correspond to flexing up or down the price that they paid,” Hyman said.
But importantly, starting in May, customers can expect to see fresh looks on Rent the Runway.
Hyman said she instructed her chief merchant to find clothing that no one would have considered in 2020. “If you would have worn the item during this year of Covid, it should not be part of Rent the Runway,” she said.