Ownership is so passe for Parisians who prefer to hire the Cinderella look
The woman in head-to-foot Dior whom you spot in a Paris restaurant or theatre may not be well off or famous. She may just have rented it for a few euros, along with her Hermes handbag.
The trend of hiring out clothes and accessories has taken off in Paris, a city where luxury brands have long clung to the word “exclusive”.
Last week, Instant Luxe, Europe’s biggest website for buying and selling “pre-owned” designer brands, opened a leasing service which offers hand and shoulder bags by Dior, Gucci, Saint Laurent and other brands for as little as 10 ($13) a day. Yann Le Floc’h, founder of the site, which has a million members, and which is now owned by the Galeries Lafayette group, said his company was responding to the habits of a generation that no longer saw ownership as important.
“Uber has changed transport, Airbnb accommodation, and habits are changing in the luxury goods market too,” Mr Le Floc’h said. “People are not renting just for special occasions but to treat themselves.”
Remy Oudghiri, of Sociovision, a strategy consultancy, said the fashion rental trend was the logical next step after France’s acceptance over the past 20 years of second-hand luxury clothes shops. “People no longer aim to possess for long because they know they will want to change,” he told Le Monde.
French Cosmopolitan magazine advised its readers: “Hiring is now the right reflex to have to save money and also to avoid cramming useless accessories into your wardrobe.”
The French luxury brands, such as Louis Vuitton and Chanel, have stopped trying to keep their products out of the hands of the impecunious.
“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,” said Emmanuelle Brizay, co-founder of the Panoply City fashion rental site.
This year it has rented out 4000 items from Marc Jacobs, Kenzo, Courreges and Sonia Rykiel.
“More than 90 per cent of our clients have never rented clothes before. We are in a period of education, not to say evangelisation,” she said.
The hiring trend is a response to growing pressure to impress others with your appearance, said Julie El Ghouzzi, head of management consultant the Centre du Luxe et de la Creation. She calls this the Cinderella effect. “Even if we become a pumpkin at midnight we can still be the most beautiful princess at the ball, and have all the pleasure of luxury without having to own it,” she said.
Most of the French fashion rentals set a minimum hire period of four days. At Instant Luxe, a classic Chanel shoulder bag, worth 500, costs 25 a day, plus
20 insurance and the cost of delivery.
Mabonneamie, a pioneer rental firm, charges 95 a day for an Armani couture dress. “These pieces are all unique and are available in one size and one colour,” says the company, which offers a Paris showroom for customers to fit their gowns. “Each dress and accessory will show the size it comes in, but all the difference will be made during the fitting.”
At Ms Brizay’s Panoply company, customers can subscribe for
60 a month to hire a different item every week and 350 a month rents 10 outfits.
Michelle Williams, Julianne Moore and Cate Blanchett in Louis Vuitton at Paris fashion week last month