It appears there is a change on the horizon. We are saying goodbye to purchasing luxury goods as the only way to get luxury items. The luxury rental market at large has been booming as of late, seeing a significant increase in popularity and revenue over the past few years. According to reports, the luxury rental industry is predicted to reach $2.8 billion by 2025, thanks in both a shift in consumer thinking and a push for a more sustainable approach in fashion. It's not just clothes; renting your designer handbags is a way for many of us to try, test, and style a range of pieces without committing to the steep price tag.
The Psychology Behind a Luxury Bag
Whether caught by the beauty of a bag in the shop window or while scrolling online, luxury handbags are an accessory that many of us own or crave. They carry status, culture, and the opportunity for styling self-expression, practical or not. “Luxury bags traditionally have enhanced the social belonging of a consumer, and they find that it becomes easier for the consumer to belong or get associated with a particular wealth or group” shares fashion psychologist, Dr. Aurore Bardey. “Therefore, renting a luxury bag will give you access to the 'luxury self' or luxury identity without the burden of the purchase price. Renting luxury has a bright future, especially for younger consumers (Millennials and Gen Z), as they tend not to associate themselves with one particular brand or be loyal to particular brands while they still look for high-quality fashion items”.
Handbag Rental and Brand Services
When it comes to handbag rental, we are exposed to an even greater luxury: The option to play with styles, colors, fits, and brands without the commitment or heavy price tag. If there is one thing that consumers adore, it's options. “Handbags are increasingly one of the most popular categories. As a general rule, luxury handbags decrease in value once purchased, so rental provides the perfect solution to that," Victoria Prew, founder of fashion rental market Hurr, tells Byrdie. "You can get the bag to match your weekend look and then return it without the big investment. As an owner, you can invest in a bag, use it a couple of times and then rent it out and make your money back. I think handbag rental is becoming more normalized, and [that] will only continue."
The rental model has certainly been a favorable option, especially over lockdown as we flick between styles. The market has also opened up to rental membership services, notes Vivrelle founder Blake Geffen. “We see membership model businesses as the future of sustainable and community-driven commerce. Ultimately, the future is where everyone is sharing a 'cloud' closet," she says. "We envision the industry working to create a holistic sense of community with rentals, such as physical spaces for those to shop and rent products in real life, and becoming more inclusive to reach a wider audience”. For Vivrelle especially, the membership model has shown significant growth as customers look for the flexibility that goes with their new hybrid lifestyle between work and travel.
With personal style and taste constantly changing, the luxury rental market for handbags appears to constantly be evolving, suiting and adapting our ever-changing wardrobes. The opportunity to swap or rent out your luxury handbags is clearly an option to consider alongside re-sale.
Rental Services to Note
Bringing together all lovers of designer bags, Vivrelle is a membership-based subscription service that allows its community to rent handbags and fine jewelry starting at $39 a month. From Chanel to Prada, you can rent your item for as long as you want. Working on a tiered system that allows customers access to rent up to one piece from its couture collection and one from its classique collection each month.
Bag Borrow or Steal
Available to borrow for an initial one-month period, Bag Borrow or Steal lets you choose between their wide selection of options that range from Gucci to Louis Vuitton. With free shipping and returns, you can be rest assured that your items will be shipped and returned in pristine condition.
Rent the Runway
Probably one of the most popular rental services available, Rent The Runway has thousands of bags available to be rented on a four-day, weekly, monthly, or unlimited timeline, making it perfectly flexible to swap styles in and out of your wardrobe.
Rental vs. Resale
Rental and even resale seem to be part of the push toward achieving a more sustainable model within the industry. For Geffen, “Making a purchase can feel definitive, but having the option to choose from a whole closet and rotate bags as you like makes the process feel light and fun without the commitment.”
For those wondering whether to get their luxury bag through a rental or resale service, it mostly comes down to their level of committment. "Luxury bags will never go out of style because they are crafted to exacting standards from the highest-quality materials. They are built to last for generations and are meant to pass through several hands in their long lives," explains Cudoni founder, James Harford-Tyrer. "As long as it’s through a trusted reseller, [you'll get] the same level of quality and craftsmanship, all for a discounted price."
Projections for the Future
Handbag rental shows no signs of slowing down, with more consumers being drawn to the sustainable benefits associated with renting in addition to the lower prices and variety available. U.K.-based handbag rental service Cocoon Club saw a 200% rise in memberships in 2020 alone, with luxury players such as Kering taking notice. A streamlined approach to reducing waste, luxury rental presents a circulatory model that opens us up to owning less, yet having more options.