Yohana Belinda (The Jakarta Post)
Fri, January 14, 2022
Designer bag rental services are emerging as an affordable way to keep up with mercurial fashion trends.
Fans of designer items know how ridiculously expensive the prices for luxury bags can be, and now the prices are rising more than ever. French luxury brand Chanel has increased the price of its products by an average of 60% since 2019. Classic Chanel bags now range from $8,200 to $100,000, and second-hand items aren’t exactly cheap either, costing between 70 million rupees ($4,884.33). and 100 million rupees.
Reigning champion: French brands such as Chanel remain the favorites of bag rental companies. (Unsplash/Trinh Minh Th) (Unsplash/Trinh Minh Th)
But that hasn’t stopped luxury brand stalwarts from sporting their favorite handbags.
Bag rental services are not new to the fashion world, but globally the pandemic has brought them many new customers. In the UK, a bag rental service called Cocoon has increased its membership by 200%, and luxury conglomerate Kering recently invested $3.421 million in its rental service.
“People tend to associate certain brands with social status, especially since the internet is the main source of fashion reference for the younger generation. Sometimes people don’t even think about the impact of their purchase on their financial situation, and they buy luxury items just to get validation from their peers. So if you want to get your friends’ approval without spending a fortune, renting bags could be an option,” said Jessica Martindo, a fashion merchandising graduate from RMIT University.
“I don’t think people should be ashamed of renting a bag. It not only helps someone manage their financial situation, it also reduces the waste a company produces to create a bag,” she added.
Particular market, particular bags
Edha Laureen Clarissa, founder of an Indonesian bag rental service called Lavergne, said her customers mostly ask about brands that are popular with the general public, such as Chanel or Christian Dior handbags.
Brilliant success: Edha Laureen Clarissa, the founder of Lavergne, a bag rental service in Jakarta. (Courtesy of Edha Laureen Clarissa). (Personal collection/Courtesy of Edha Laureen Clarissa)
Edha’s clients are generally people whose financial situation is not yet stable.
“Most people who inquire about the rental are in their 20s and 30s,” Edha said, adding that they “usually rent the bags for events like arose [rotating social gatherings]”.
Feni Arista Daniati has been loaning bags since 2018. She says only a few brands remain loanable long-term in the rapidly changing fashion landscape.
“Not all bags will hold their value in the pre-loved market. Most of my clients feel it, and so do I. As far as French brands are concerned, only a few maintain their value, such as Chanel or Hermès. Other than that, you will only be able to sell them for half the original price,” Feni said.
Better than buying counterfeits
“The rental option not only allows me to keep up with trends, but also helps me avoid buying fake luxury goods,” said online store owner Cicilia Citra. “If you look at the price, fakes aren’t cheap either.”
Rina, a housewife in West Jakarta in her 30s who chose to use a pseudonym for this article, said the rental also prevented the potential embarrassment of using counterfeits.
“I’m a bag lover, but I’ve sold most of my bags because I only wear them once or twice a year, and now I’ve adapted to a minimalist lifestyle. For me, renting the original bags can boost your confidence, rather than wearing the fake ones,” she said.
Edha and Feni say their services have plenty of room to grow.
Feni says his business earns him between Rp 20 and 30 million per month, with the peak seasons surrounding Idul Fitri and New Year being the most lucrative, earning him around Rp 50 million.
“My lowest salary [month] was probably around 10 million rupees but it could be due to the pandemic,” she said.
Home-based industry: Feni Arista Daniati runs her designer bag rental service from her home in Jakarta. (Courtesy of Feni Arista Daniati) (Personal collection/Feni Arista Daniati)
Feni rates each brand differently and generally marks up the price of French luxury goods. For example, a Dior bag costs Rp 1 million per day, while a Chanel bag costs Rp 2 million.
Given the success of her business in Jakarta, Edha senses an opportunity to grow. She often received requests from other cities in the country.
“I want to provide the service to people who live in other cities, like Surabaya, once I get the right insurance company that can support my business,” Edha said.