Rent the Runway plans to launch a brand made entirely out of recycled materials, COO says

Anushka Salinas spoke at Business Insider’s IGNITION: Redefining Retail conference on Tuesday. Jin S. Lee / Business Insider

Rent the Runway is planning to launch a brand based entirely on “recycled materials” in the springtime, COO Anushka Salinas announced at Business Insider’s IGNITION: Redefining Retail conference on Tuesday.

Rent the Runway currently works with 650 design partners to create looks for its customers’ closets. For this upcoming recycling-focused brand, Salinas said that the company is teaming up with an as-of-yet unnamed “great influencer.” Rent the Runway declined to provide more information about the project.

According to Salinas, sustainability remains “very much at the forefront” of everything going on at Rent the Runway. The COO said that its commitment to encouraging consumers to rent rather than purchase clothing is “driving much more sustainable outcomes.”

But, she added, the company isn’t hanging its hat on its business model.

“The business model is inherently far more sustainable than purchasing, but that’s not good enough, obviously,” Salinas said.

Salinas said that Rent the Runway has taken additional steps like phasing out its cardboard packaging in favour of a patented, reusable garment bag. She added that Rent the Runway has partnered with a company called Trex in order to recycle additional plastics used in shipping. Trex converts plastic waste into wood-alternative decking materials.

Rent the Runway also strives to “really think about the full life cycle of the garment” in order to reduce waste. The company has partnered with charitable organisations when it comes to phasing out older items of clothing, ensuring that the garments can live on rather than be tossed in a landfill. Items of clothing are also “liquidated” in instances when a customer decides to buy a product rather than return it.

But for Salinas, all of these strategies reflect the centrality of sustainability when it comes to Rent the Runway’s ethos.

“Sustainability is inherently part of the business model that we pioneered 10 years ago,” she said. “We are one of the only companies out there that is telling you, telling our consumers, ‘Buy less stuff’ versus ‘Consume more.’ So that has always been at the core of what we do.”

Watch Salinas’ full interview at Business Insider’s IGNITION: Redefining Retail event here.