I had never heard of the concept of being able to rent luxury items before I had seen Sex & The City the movie. At first this seems like the perfect solution for the young and cash-strapped. Instead of spending a month’s rent on a new Marc Jacobs, you can rent one for a fraction of the price. Not only is this an affordable solution but means that you can change your designer delight along with the seasons.
In the film it is Carrie’s assistant, Louise, (Jennifer Hudson) who rents her designer handbags from Bagborroworsteal.com and she is featured in scenes with both Chanel and Louis Vuitton. At the end of the film Carrie buys Louise her own Louis Vuitton Monogram Motard Firebird as a leaving present.
We can take this example as an accurate popular culture representation of society today. It is the 20 something, working classes with insufficient income to purchase high end products, in this case Louise and her designer handbags, who have the option of renting luxury to satisfy their hedonistic needs. It is Carrie, the 30 something, independent and successful writer who can not only afford to buy her own luxury accessories but can splurge over $5,000 on them for others.
Low income earners of mid social status can experience luxury for a limited time period with the help of sites like Bag Borrow or steal and mycelebritydress.com. These people (myself included) have the ‘feel like a celeb now’ option and can continue working towards their aspiration of one day having their own swanky apartment, successful career and most importantly, their Gucci handbag to represent all of this.
In the long term, renting luxury is definitely not a savvy investment. I guess that’s the price we pay for pleasure.
A luxury brand is more than just an item, but an aspiration. What is it that makes you think twice about walking away from these pricey purchases? It was some months ago that I stumbled upon the above crystal bobble purse in a Ted Baker store in Canary Wharf. It was the glittering crystals on the clasp that caught my eye at first. I was drawn to the rich colour, and the smooth and shiny case. More than a little aesthetically pleased I walked away after noticing the hefty price tag attached- £75.
Some months later and the same purse is still playing on my mind. Why is it that this particular item has such a hold over me? If it was from River Island or any other high street shop I wouldn’t have thought about it twice. Although I don’t have the money to buy this purse right now, it is on my wish list and I can only imagine how much prettier my pennies will be in their new home with Ted.
I interviewed my cousin to explore the reasons behind his recent purchase of the iPad 2. Not being particularly concerned with image and brands in general, I was intrigued as to what made him buy in to the Apple family over cheaper variations of the device currently on the market.
“There is no question that Apple have succeeded in making computers fashion accessories. Their products are slim, stylish and reliable. They have also used the colour white to differentiate their products and make people feel that they stand out from the crowd. As a result, Nokia, Blackberry and Samsung have followed the trend by releasing white models of mobile phones. It is the quality and functionality of Apple products that is worth investing in. They are simple, reliable and undeniably fashionable.”
We can conclude from the above that despite fusing technology with fashion, Chris’s core reason for his luxury brand purchase is a practical one;
“I was on the go a lot and needed something lightweight and slim to carry with me. I researched the iPad range and found that they were successful and popular products due to their durability and advanced technology. Having previously owned an iPod I knew what to expect and was prepared to spend £500. It was not just the iPad 2 alone that was expensive but the whole range of accessories that came with it from the cover to the charger. I do believe that I invested in quality and that the money was well invested.”
OPI nail lacquer is a quality varnish and with a retail price of £12 a bottle it isn’t cheap. If I want a super shiny finish without chipping for weeks this is the usual product that I would buy. However, I had an interview recently for a new job and I didn’t feel like OPI could quite cut it. After splurging £17.50 on a new Dior vernis I felt more powerful, fashionable and promotion worthy. Dior market this product as a ‘high lasting, haute couleur’. Despite people not being able to tell the difference between the two, it was the psychological effect of wearing the ultimate luxury polish that made me feel more confident that day.
While shopping on Oxford street I decided to treat myself to a Tiffany necklace.
One of my work colleagues wears an Elsa Peretti pendant, a Tiffany collection designer. The necklace itself is plain and understated however this simple accessory brings an elegance to her outfits and indicates her sense of style and taste. My cousin also had recently started to wear a Tiffany necklace. This necklace was from the Return to Tiffany heart collection. She wears this as an everyday piece and, it gives her a sophisticated and elegant look whether she wears it with a pair of jeans and a t-shirt or a little black dress.
With both of these girls in mind, I diverted from my Christmas shopping and headed for Selfridges, with the desire to belong to this group of sophisticated and stylish girls.
It was not only the purchase of the necklace that was special but the experience of feeling important when I walked through the doors at Selfridges and heading for the Tiffany boutique inside. I was attended to from the moment I walked in and presented with several necklaces to try on. From the attentive sales assistant, to being handed the Tiffany blue box caressed with a beautiful red christmas ribbon, the whole experience of buying the necklace made me feel special and I couldn’t wait to put it on and show it to my friends. I wear it everyday and believe that although it is a simple and understated piece it symbolises my taste for quality, style and it was a well deserved treat.
All the sterling silver necklaces described above cost approximately £100. As a luxury brand, although Tiffany use a standard, not particularly expensive metal, silver, the brand adds value and you can expect with any Tiffany piece that it is a quality item that will last for years without tarnishing or being damaged and has a quality and style that does not go out of fashion, retaining it’s charm and appeal throughout the decades. When I think of Tiffany I think of a slice of New York, a special occasion and the best gift under the tree.
Luxury goods are products or services which are ordinarily considered as something that is not needed but desired. They often come with a big price tag, but in return offer the promise of comfort, quality, exclusivity and status.
Such ‘non-essential’ items or services are produced and offered by luxury brands across a range of industries. The luxury goods market currently includes fashion, health & beauty, travel, food & drink and the automotive industry.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines luxury as “a state of great comfort or elegance, especially when involving great expense”. The idea of luxury as a ‘state’ is important. When we consume luxury goods we are looking to fulfill our desire to be glamorous, sophisticated, elegant, wealthy, fashionable and believe that by acquiring a luxury product that we become all of these and have achieved this desirable state of being.
The Financial Times definition adds that a luxury good is specifically “in greater demand when incomes are high”. When specifically looking at luxury goods, it is interesting to note that even those who are not typically high earners will save in order to splash out on a luxury good once in a while.
To date, the luxury goods market is one of the few that has survived the current economic climate, with a white paper report from the Luxury Institute stating that “top tier luxury brands have emerged from the recession stronger than ever”.