Launched in November 2009, Rent the Runway is the leader in global fashion rentals and is responsible for growing the rental culture into a significant part of today’s retail industry. Rent The Runway gives millions of women access to designer dresses and accessories, along with the expertise of professional stylists and the shared wisdom of like-minded, fashion-forward members. In 2014, Forbes recognized Rent the Runway as “tech’s next billion-dollar star.”
The company is backed by some of the world’s top investors including: Kleiner Perkins, Highland Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, American Express, Advance Publications, and Novel TMT Ventures.
Rent the Runway is a Ruby/Java shop running more than 400 servers. The company deploys its applications in a service-oriented architecture with Ruby as the front-end powered by Java services that interact with caches and databases.
Moving from Drupal to Ruby and Java
Powered by a transformative business model, proprietary technology that supports one-of-a-kind shopping innovations, and a unique reverse logistics operation, Rent the Runway is challenging old systems and rewriting the retail rules. Leading a growing team of 60, Camille Fournier is Rent the Runway’s chief technology officer. “Rent the Runway is a fashion company with a technology soul,” says Fournier. “With every click, delivery, and return, we gather an insane amount of data, informing every decision our company makes. Through the power of analytics, we’re perpetually tweaking our model to make everything we do faster, smarter, easier, and nimbler.”
That charter drives Fournier’s engineering group to deliver unique products such as ‘Our Runway,’ which allows shoppers to explore how other Rent the Runway customers with a similar body type are wearing their favorite designs. The group also developed a proprietary, high-speed reverse-logistics system that allows Rent the Runway to turn items around in record time, usually within one day.
In 2011, Rent the Runway decided to rewrite its website and supporting services, moving from Drupal to Ruby and Java and focusing on improving scalability and performance. To meet the new performance goals, Fournier knew that her team would need deeper insight into Rent the Runway’s applications and systems. “Our plan was to roll out the revised system piece by piece, one major customer component at a time,” says Fournier. “We needed a way to view how each piece was performing in real time.”