In the world's fashion capital renting luxury clothes and handbags is beginning to catch on thanks to Instant Luxe, a new service that enables consumers to rent Dior, Gucci, Saint Laurent and other luxury brand handbags for as little as 10 euros ($11.65) per day. A 4,500-euro ($5242) classic Chanel black shoulder bag, for instance, can be rented for 25 euros ($29) a day, plus 20 euros ($23.30) in insurance to cover the bag.
In introducing rental options, Yann Le Floc'h, the founder and CEO of Paris-based Instant Luxe, an e-commerce site that already offers second hand designer garments and accessories to over one million members, said the site was responding to a new "pattern of consumption" where women see no shame in renting their wardrobe.
According to Mr. Le Floc'h, many women would rather use than own a luxury bag, which is why his company has begun renting out about "20 classic handbags styles for a minimum of four nights," he told AFP. "Uber has changed transport, Airbnb accommodation and habits are changing in the luxury goods market too. We are changing our consumption habits from ownership to use. And people are not renting just for special occasions but to treat themselves.”
While France has long had a thriving market in second hand designer clothes and bags, fans of luxury labels have been much more reluctant about renting until quite recently, even as "the market has exploded in the U.S.,” he said.
Julie El Ghouzzi, the director of France's Luxury Goods and Creation Centre, says the push towards renting garments and accessories marks "a real change in society. We have less need to possess things and greater need for appearances.”
Emmanuelle Brizay, co-founder of the Panoply City fashion rental site, said a whole new market was opening up. "More than 90 percent of our clients have never rented clothes before. We are in a period of education, not to say evangelization." Since January, her site has rented out 4,000 items from the latest women's collections from Marc Jacobs, Kenzo, Courreges and Sonia Rykiel. For 60 euros ($69.91) a month, customers can rent a different garment every week, while a 350-euros-a-month ($407.87) subscription gives them access to 10 outfits.
"Renting changes the consumer’s relationship with clothes," said Brizay. "One continues to buy them but you also can have more fun. Instead of buying an umpteenth black coat for the winter, with the same money you can change the color every week."
Even though the rental market for top-end luxury brands is still in its infancy, Brizay said the signs were very encouraging, and even the brands themselves are coming around, she said. "At the beginning, we had to convince them and now some of them are coming to us to make sure they feature in the selection."