Own­er­ship is so passe for Parisians who pre­fer to hire the Cin­derella look

The Australian - - WORLD - CHARLES BREM­NER PARIS

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.

GETTY IM­AGES

Michelle Wil­liams, Ju­lianne Moore and Cate Blanchett in Louis Vuit­ton at Paris fash­ion week last month

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