Fashion

Saks Off 5th to sell pre-owned fashion from Rent the Runway in resale pivot


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Saks Off 5th will offload pre-owned premium and designer fashion from Rent the Runway for as much as 85 per cent off, in a new deal that aims to attract younger “trend devotees” to the US discount retailer.

Over 60 brands, including Gen Z favourites Ganni and Equipment, will be available to Saks Off 5th customers through a designated section of its website, the companies announced today. Saks Off 5th will buy authenticated stock from Rent the Runway, sell it and fulfil the orders, helping the latter to clear old inventory. Rent the Runway has previously trialled a similar partnership with rival discounter Nordstrom Rack.

The push into pre-owned fashion is largely driven by consumer demand, says Saks Off 5th’s president and CEO Paige Thomas, who joined the business from Nordstrom two years ago. A survey of Saks off 5th customers revealed that more than 70 per cent have previously purchased pre-owned clothing, shoes or accessories; and a further 80 per cent want the opportunity to purchase pre-owned fashion directly from the US retailer. The resale market is growing twice as fast as the firsthand market and is expected to reach €50 billion globally by 2025, according to management consultancy Boston Consulting Group.

“Our core customer is a ‘trend devotee’, which is actually a younger customer who loves fashion and aspirational brands in the luxury space,” explains Thomas. In 2020, Saks Off 5th partnered with LXR, a Montreal-based company that retails and wholesales vintage luxury, to offer its customers pre-owned luxury handbags. “We see this as a journey,” says Thomas. “We started with LXR, and Rent the Runway came into play, which allows us to broaden our assortment of brands that our customers haven’t seen and/or invest in brands that they love already that we carry on our site.”

Nasdaq-listed Rent the Runway has struggled to reach profitability, partly due to its capital-heavy model of buying and holding stock. In June, the company reported a net loss of $42.5 million for the first quarter of 2022, flat roughly on the $42.3 million loss it made in the first quarter of 2021. It first offered a purchase option to its rental subscribers in 2016, and in June 2021 opened resale to all users, including one-off renters. To help it clear old stock, in January 2020 , Rent the Runway partnered with rival Nordstrom Rack on a pilot to offer pre-owned fashion in some of its stores.

On the Saks Off 5th partnership, Rent the Runway CEO and co-founder Jennifer Hyman says: “The secondhand economy is a critical part of creating a more sustainable future for our industry. Saks Off 5th is known for offering incredible designer goods at great prices , which is a fantastic launch pad to educate more consumers, and help to extend the life of these garments.”

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