Luxury for Rent

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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.louis-vuitton-firebird

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.

What are luxury goods?

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”.