Do you ever read the fashion sections in the various newspapers and think journalists will use any excuse they can find to make Rent the Runway part of the story? Today's purposeful eye-roller of a story in the Times "Styles" section about rich girls wearing labels like Dior, Hervé Léger, Roland Mouret, and Yves Saint Laurent to prom was the perfect excuse to speak to the founders of Rent the Runway, the designer-dress rental website founded by two Harvard Business School students, about how the poor kids — the Jenny Humphries (minus her sewing skills) of the world — save face in the company of such young fashion snobs.
Another founder, Jennifer Hyman, described wearing a designer dress to prom as a kind of sartorial gateway drug, priming a customer for the future moment when she is able to afford high-end brands. “It’s often your first taste,” said Ms. Hyman, who wore a Carmen Marc Valvo to her own prom (New Rochelle High School, 1998). “You will remember that brand you wore to prom and will want to have that brand in your closet.”
Or maybe you'll want to use the same credit card that bought you that prom dress to fill your closet with lots of dresses for poor kids to rent at $50 to $250 apiece. In fact, these high schoolers probably don't need to wait for their Harvard Business School degrees to start doing that. Take Colby Jordan, who sounds like she has loads of stuff people who want to rent dresses would want to rent:
Last year, as a junior at the Latin School in Chicago, Colby Jordan wore a black silk gown designed by John Galliano with matching Dior heels to prom. “This year I’m switching gears,” she said on the phone from her home recently. “I’m doing a chartreuse Roland Mouret gown with purple snakeskin YSL Tribute sandals.”
High schoolers would totally pay three figures to loan out her stuff, if their prom anxiety is as high as New Jersey's Moorestown High School student Hazel Cills says it is:
“When I realized there was a Facebook group for prom dresses that was up, I posted a picture of an Alexander McQueen dress as a joke,” Ms. Cills wrote in an e-mail. “A few days later, girls were coming up to me in the hallway actually looking a bit worried, and kept asking me if I was really wearing the dress. I just laughed at them and told them it was a joke, assuring them I was not going to prom and that I couldn’t afford that dress even if I wanted to.
“But there were definitely some girls who took me seriously and freaked out about the fact that they weren’t wearing McQueen dresses.”
You cannot rent Alexander McQueen dresses on Rent the Runway, but we'd bet that Mouret-wearing Colby has some McQueen in her closet. She did go to the Met Gala (honoring Alexander McQueen) this year, after all.