After years atop the mastheads of Lucky, Elle, and Vanity Fair, Alexis Bryan Morgan has gone digital. As Rent the Runway’s director of creative content, she’s instrumental in the brand’s effort to bring runway-caliber fashion to women all around the country—for the low price of $99 a month.
So you have a new gig.
I’ve been working on the relaunch of the website with our internal creative team to develop a new clean and sophisticated look for the brand, which debuts on September 14. My focus is on conceptualizing new content and strategies to introduce our designers to our audience.
Why was it time for a relaunch?
We want to update the look and feel of the site to reflect the luxury brands we carry and cater to our customer base of smart, millennial women. I’m amazed by the number of new users we see visiting the site every day. We want those new visitors to immediately understand who we are, how our service works, and the difference Rent the Runway can make in their lives.
What cosmetic changes should we expect to see?
We’re thinking about the site as a gallery space—clean, modern, and sophisticated. We hope it will serve as a showcase for each individual designer’s point of view. A lot of our customers will be learning about a brand for the first time, and we would like designers to be able to speak to them in an authentic way.
How will the functionality and user experience improve?
Content on the homepage will be refreshed every week and will serve as a source of constant inspiration, speaking to different trends, new designers, and product categories.
What sort of fashion content will live on the site?
We don’t want to force a point of view but rather showcase clothing in a way that makes it look its most beautiful and authentic. Editorials will be clean, with beautiful and simple graphic sets, and they’ll be dynamic to show the movement of a garment. The goal is always to inspire our customer. It’s been a massive learning experience. I thought I knew, more or less, how to create content for a digital platform, but now I’m really learning about all the different elements that are required to make something beautiful. It’s not just an image on the page—it’s the buttons, amount of white space, and user experience. Some images don’t work as well on digital—they need to speak a digital language as well as have a call-to-action.
Are you focusing much on millennials?
Yes. I’m learning more about the millennial girl, whom I thought I knew, more or less, but RTR has so much data on her. She just loves to share—she rents something, fills out a survey, and sends a photo of herself wearing the clothing. Everyone wants to reach her, and many of us have made assumptions about what she wants to see. We do a lot of testing, which helps us understand her. She doesn’t just respond to a beautiful image—she’s very left-brained with her shopping. She wants to know how something fits, and how it can be styled, and why the designer is relevant.
Who are some of the new designers you’re launching?
Jason Wu, Derek Lam, Nina Ricci, Giambattista Valli…
I’ve always considered RTR as a place to rent a special occasion dress. How is that changing?
We currently have a program called Unlimited, which is in beta. You pay a subscription fee—for now, it’s $99—and you can have any three items on rotation at any given time, and swap them whenever you want. It’s amazing, because editors have this wonderful situation where you can borrow the fun stuff, and then send it back to the closet. Now, every girl can have that experience. We’re finding that the program is mostly used for work, and the merchandise we’re buying reflects that. I’ve also, by the way, gotten very into the KonMari Method.
I’m a fellow Marie Kondo fan. I currently own only two pair of pants.
I’m obsessed. Now I love my closet. In addition to my pants from the Row, my perfect white button-downs, and my cashmere staples, I also have my Rent the Runway pieces—a Giamba faux fur anorak, a See by Chloé work-to-weekend dress, and a Cedric Charlier cocktail dress, which I can swap out.
Do you go on the buying appointments?
Some. I work with Sarah [Tam], our head of merchandising, who came from Saks. She’s amazing. We work together to think about our matrix, and we also identify emerging designers who perhaps aren’t getting picked up by other major retailers.
Which lessons from the editorial world have proven useful in your new role?
My editorial experience in coming up with stories that speak to different customers is very helpful. My experience at Lucky, specifically, was useful because the goal of those stories was always to incite a reader to take action to acquire a piece of clothing or to teach her how to wear something, as opposed to having a “lean back” experience, where you enjoy a fashion story as art or inspiration. My familiarity with a wide range of designers and how they’re best represented has also helped me build strategies around highlighting individual brands within our content.
How does Rent the Runway deal with fit issues?
We send backup sizes. The original Rent the Runway idea was totally genius, but [CEO and co-founder] Jennifer [Hyman] keeps on coming up with more genius ways to push the idea forward. I believe this idea can change the way women shop.
How do you ensure that you’re carrying enough stock?
We have so many analytics on what kinds of merchandise are popular at different times of year that we buy around those metrics. We know that easy work dresses are a top performer, so going into the next buy, we make sure to have a ton!