High Fashion for Rent
Much was made how the Great Recession took large numbers of "aspirational" shoppers out of the market for luxury goods. People, either because of job loss or concerns
over employment, just couldn’t afford to shop up-market anymore.
In recent years, however, a variety of rental services, such as renttherunway.com, lifestyleforlease.com
and avelle.com, have sprung up to offer consumers the option of wearing designer
clothes, accessories and jewelry at prices they can afford.
Rent the Runway,
for example, offers clothing from 130 top designers at 10 to 15 percent of
the retail price. Instead of plunking down thousands of dollars for a dress,
consumers can wear their favorite designer fashions for a couple hundred.
Jennifer Hyman told The New York Times back in 2009 that
she got the idea for the business after watching a sister shop for a dress
to attend a wedding.
"Here was this young girl who loves fashion and was willing to spend
a good portion of her salary on a dress that she’s only going to wear once
or twice, and I thought, there has to be a solution for this," Ms. Hyman
told the Times.
A RetailWire poll in November 2009 asked whether
consumers were more drawn to these rental services because of price or convenience.
Fifty-six percent said price was the big draw, 25 percent thought price and
convenience were equally important and six percent saw convenience as most
"Where luxury had been exclusive, the Internet has made it a commodity,’ Dudley
Blossom, of LIM College, told The Associated Press. "This is fundamentally
changing the way the average person is accessing luxury."
- Rental sites
make it easy and inexpensive to look red carpet ready – The
Associated Press/The Boston Globe
- A Netflix Model for Haute Couture – The New York Times
Discussion Questions: Will rental services for luxury goods continue to grow? Is the biggest market for this type of service in fashion or some other luxury goods category?