Jennifer Hyman

Her $1 billion valuation proves renting fashion is as good as owning it.

New YorkNY 
Fashion Forward
Jennifer Fleiss
 Photo Credit: Courtesy subject

In 2009, when Jenn Hyman and co-founder Jennifer Fleiss started women’s-clothing rental business Rent the Runway, people saw the idea as either radically new or cute but trifling. “That will be so fun for you, to have all these fancy dresses,” one condescending would-be investor told Hyman, who considers herself a trend-spotter. She’d noticed that the younger generation was starting to value experiences over things, and that social media was turning the world into one big fashion show. She was right about all of it. Earlier this year, Rent the Runway’s valuation topped $1 billion, making Hyman one of the only female founders to pass that milestone. The company, which has 1,800 employees around the world, recently entered two new markets: kids and home--the latter through a partnership with West Elm. Says Hyman, “This is really just the beginning of what it will mean to have a subscription to Rent the Runway.” --Tom Foster