FashionPass Vs. Rent The Runway: Which Clothing Rental Service Is Best For You?

To eliminate fashion waste and alleviate the rising costs of clothing, the fashion industry has found ways to make the secondhand market more attractive. Long gone are the times of shame about shopping at thrift stores or the local Goodwills. In fact, the secondhand apparel market could see growth of up to 48% by the end of 2026. A new generation of people is pushing this boost, documenting their secondhand finds on social media. Influencers like Thrifter Junker Vintage Hunter sports over 21,000 Instagram followers and 4,000 YouTube subscribers for her amazing apparel and decor finds during her thrifting journeys. Thanks to content creators like her, the gently-used market has birthed a new way to shop for previously owned goods, only this time, shoppers return their finds, allowing their fellow fashionistas a chance to rock the look.

Clothing rental companies are the new money-saving tool to keep you stylish without breaking the bank. The beauty of renting garments is that you are not tasked with paying full price, nor do you have to be burdened with finding a new home for special occasion pieces after they've fulfilled their missions. FashionPass and Rent the Runway have been leading the rental initiatives, but as stiff competitors with a similar model, how do you know which one best suits your needs? Let's explore what these clothing rental services have to offer.

Rent the Runway was founded first with an emphasis on opulence

People may gravitate towards Rent the Runway over FashionPass simply due to how long it's been around. The company was founded by Jenn Hyman and Jenny Fleiss in 2009 after Hyman's younger sister purchased a $2,000 designer dress for a wedding. As the company evolved, it began to offer more than just wedding attire.

Rent the Runway now advertises everything from shorts to gowns. What makes them unique is their focus on gently used designer brands such as Chloé, Maison Margiela, Mugler, and more. Customers can pay a one-time fee to rent the desired garment for up to eight days. Or, they can buy it outright for a higher price. Those planning to frequently rent clothes can do so via memberships.

The Trial membership starts at $69 for the first month but rises to $94 monthly. This tier allows five rentals at a time, though each piece cannot exceed $350. The following membership is the Most Loved, which is $99 for two months before soaring to $144 afterward. Customers can enjoy five rentals at a time, with prices allowed up to $3,000 per piece. The Best Value, which will run $139 for two months before going up to $193, allows up to five rentals at a time priced at $3,000 each. However, this plan allows for three monthly shipments, whereas Most Loved only permits two and one at the Trial level.

FashionPass used Rent the Runway's model for a younger audience

Brittany Avery founded FashionPass in 2016 as a more hip alternative to Rent the Runway. The company offers many of the same services, but the prices are slightly lower. Also, FashionPass does not possess the same priority on luxury brands, as its target audience is likely unable to afford Moschino.

Another significant contrast is the way customers can get their desired garment. Unlike Rent the Runway, the only option for renting the attire at FashionPass is by purchasing a membership. There is no option for one-time borrowing, but shoppers may buy it outright. Many pieces can be purchased "like-new" or "new with tags."

Like its main competitor, the membership has tiers, but they are relatively less expensive than that seen on Rent the Runway. The Socialite tier starts at $29 for the first month before skyrocketing to $89 every month after. This includes two clothing goods and one accessory per order. The next option is the Trendsetter tier, which includes either three clothing goods and two accessories or four clothing items per order for $59, then $119 following the initial 30 days. Lastly, the Wanderlust plan provides four clothing items and three accessories per order. If you need more threads, subscribers can choose five items and one accessory. This costs $89 in the first month and $149 following. The beauty of each plan is that they all come with unlimited rentals and monthly discounts. 

Your needs should determine which service you choose

If you compete in pageants and need gowns to wear onstage, Rent the Runway is the right option for you. If your daughter is headed to prom and you don't want to waste big bucks on a dress for a single night but also want a variety of formal dresses to choose from, yes, Rent the Runway is your go-to. Or, if you're a person who enjoys boasting about labels during your night out with friends, then this company is an excellent fit for you.

If your style is more contemporary or if you are a fan of fast fashion companies such as Fashion Nova, FashionPass is a match made in heaven. A halter top summer look for your birthday dinner or a white denim ensemble for a first date can be perfectly styled with the looks on FashionPass. They also offer free dry cleaning services, so don't feel guilty if you spill a glass of wine on your bodycon midi dress or jumpsuit. In the end, both services have much to offer, but most importantly, they deliver sustainability, a refreshing bonus.