Yohana Belinda, Malang – Designer bag rental services are emerging as an affordable way to keep up with mercurial fashion trends.
Fans of designer items know how ridiculously high the prices of luxury bags can get, and now prices are increasing more than ever. French luxury brand Chanel has raised the price of its products by an average of 60 percent since 2019. Classic Chanel bags now range from US$8,200 to $100,000, and secondhand items aren't exactly cheap either, costing between Rp 70 million (US $4,884.33) and Rp 100 million.
But this has not prevented die-hard fans of luxury brands from sporting their favorite handbags.
Bag rental services are nothing new in the fashion world, but globally, the pandemic has garnered them plenty of new clients. In the United Kingdom, a bag rental service called Cocoon has increased its membership by 200 percent, and luxury conglomerate Kering recently invested $3,421 million in its rental service.
"People tend to associate certain brands with social status, especially with the internet being the main source of fashion reference for the young generation. Sometimes, people do not 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, bag rentals 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 doesn't just help someone manage their financial situation, it also reduces the waste that 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 clients mostly asked about brands that were popular with the general public, such as Chanel or Christian Dior handbags.
Edha's clients are generally people whose financial situations are not yet stable.
"Most people who inquire about renting are in their 20s or 30s," Edha said, adding that they "usually rent the bags for events like arisan [rotating social gatherings]".
Feni Arista Daniati has been lending bags since 2018. She says that only a few brands remain lendable long-term in the fast-changing fashion landscape.
"Not every bag is going to hold its value on the preloved market. Most of my customers feel this, and I do as well. When it comes to the French brands, there are only a few that sustain their value, like Chanel or Hermes. Other than that, you'll only be able to sell them for half the original price," Feni said.
Better than buying fakes
"The rental option not only allows me to keep up with trends, but it also helps me not to buy fake luxury goods," said Cicilia Citra, an online shop owner. "If you look up the price, the fakes are not cheap either."
Rina, a housewife in West Jakarta in her 30s who opted to use a pseudonym for this article, said renting also prevented the potential embarrassment of using fakes.
"I am a bag lover, but I've sold most of my bags because I only wear them once or twice a year, and now I have been adapting to a minimalist lifestyle. For me, renting the original bags can boost your confidence, rather than sporting the fake ones," she said.
Edha and Feni say their services have plenty of room to grow.
Feni says her business earns her Rp 20 million to 30 million a month, with peak seasons surrounding Idul Fitri and New Year being the most lucrative, earning her about Rp 50 million.
"My lowest-earning [month] was probably around Rp 10 million, but this might have been due to the pandemic," she said.
Feni prices each brand differently, and she usually marks up the price for French luxury goods. For example, a Dior bag costs Rp 1 million per day, while a Chanel costs Rp 2 million.
Given the success of her business in Jakarta, Edha senses an opportunity to expand. She has often received inquiries from other cities in the country.
"I am keen 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.