Treating yourself: How designer rentals make luxury affordable

If you’ve got a passion for designer goods, you know how they can make a dent in your finances. So, why not rent a bag instead? Read our guide tips, tricks, and more.

6 min read

No matter who you are or what you earn, everyone likes to indulge sometimes. Whether that means splurging on a vacation, a new car, or an extravagant meal for two, investing in a unique product or experience is often more than worth the financial cost.

For some of us, indulgence equates to luxury — specifically: designer handbags. These high-end accessories are chic, fashionable, and impeccably made. But at thousands of euros a pop, they can also burn quite a hole in your italian leather wallet. Luckily, the luxury market has found a way to democratize high fashion, with designer handbag rental services popping up all across the globe. These handy platforms let customers rent a bag for days, weeks, or months, without the commitment of a purchase. Here, we’ll dive into handbag rental markets, and how it can save the more fashion-forward among us a pretty penny, while making luxury more diverse and sustainable.

Luxury fashion, defined

The word “luxury” comes from the latin “luxuria” meaning “excess” — and that’s a pretty accurate starting point when talking about this type of spending. Simply put, luxury items are things that are desirable in society or social circles, but not necessary for your survival. 

Essential purchases are things like food, rent or housing, and other items you need to live. By definition, luxury goods are the opposite of that. Some examples include designer clothing or accessories, expensive technology, sports cars, and even expensive food. And although many of us can’t afford to invest in luxury products on a regular basis, the pull of a stylish, brand-name handbag can be strong. But the price tag is often a massive deterrent — a Louis Vuitton can run you roughly €2,000, while a Hermes Kelly bag costs a whopping €9,050.

Why do we buy luxury goods?

Luxury fashion is a booming industry. In 2022 alone, the global luxury goods market was estimated to grow to $284 billion and to $392.40 billion by 2030. That’s a lot of handbags and Jimmy Choo pumps! Some people even amass debt to pay for designer items, damaging their credit in the service of style.

But if luxury goods aren’t necessary for our survival — and even prohibitively expensive for most people — why do we buy them? The answer is complex and has a lot to do with the psychology of spending. First of all, spending tends to increase as household wealth does — the more you earn, the more you’re likely to spend. 

Brand names can be a way to signal status to others. It’s not necessarily about the quality of the leather used in a particular bag, or its durability, but the logo on it. This may be particularly important if you work in an industry or live in an area where sporting high-end items earns you some social and professional clout. Sometimes, however, it’s much simpler than that — the occasional indulgence might be nothing more than a way to pamper ourselves. (And who are we to stop you?)

To rent or buy? The luxury fashion dilemma

Regardless of the reasons people choose to purchase designer items, they're undeniably expensive. Not everyone can afford to take the plunge. Luckily, the market has adjusted for this, offering designer bag rental services. These platforms give customers the luxury of luxury, without cutting too deep into your budget. Let's take a look at why bag rental companies are changing the game of designer shopping. 

The benefits of renting designer bags 

  • A unique, rotating selection. One of the main benefits of design rental services is having access to a diverse and ever-changing closet of items. For the cost of just one luxury bag, you could buy yourself a year or two of rotating fashion favorites that change as often as your mood. What’s more, many platforms offer unique, hard-to-find items.  
  • A more sustainable fashion experience. For many of us, prioritizing sustainability is an important part of living an ethical life. With rental services, you can participate in the circular economy without sacrificing on style.
  • Get a luxury experience without breaking the bank.  Especially for Millennials and Gen Z, designer bags are incredibly costly — without a high-earning job and substantial savings, most of us can’t afford them without dipping into our rainy day fund. With rental platforms, you can get the luxury experience you crave at just a fraction of the cost. 
  • No long-term commitment.  Let’s face it: Trends and preferences can change with the tides. So, why commit to a costly handbag when you can try out a variety of items depending on your mood? Renting handbags lets you test-drive different styles without committing, so you can save your budget for other things, or save up to eventually own the handbag of your dreams.  
  • Celebrate special occasions in style. Maybe designer bags aren’t something you’re lusting after in your daily life. But what about those special occasions when carrying a Gucci clutch feels like just the ticket? From weddings to film premieres, designer bag rental services give you the chance to doll up without doling out.

How handbag rental services work

When it comes to renting designer handbags, there are two basic models most platforms offer: subscriptions and one-off rentals. 

With subscription plans, customers pay a monthly membership fee and can borrow a selection of designer bags for a designated rental period, then swap them out for new ones at a later date. This model is ideal for customers who want a more flexible fashion experience and the chance to test out a variety of it-bags each month. 

One-off rentals, on the other hand, allow you to rent a specific bag for a specific timeframe. This is the perfect approach if you have a certain accessory in mind for a special occasion, or if you want to forgo the higher prices of most membership-based plans. 

Designer handbag rental services in Europe

There’s no doubt about it: Designer handbag rental services are making a splash in the fashion market. And as the continent that’s home to Paris, Milan, and Madrid, it’s no surprise that Europe is getting in on it. Already, there’s a wide variety of platforms that let customers dip their toes into the luxury market without taking the plunge. 

In Germany and Austria, you’ve got Fobe, a subscription-based model with three tiers, starting at €99 per month. Get several bags per month depending on your subscription, or shell out for the Unlimited package for a full-on luxury experience. In Italy, try Bag It, an itemized rental platform for designer bags of all shapes and prices. This easy-to-use interface lets you shop, rent, and return your dream bag in just a few clicks. 

As the capital of designer bags, the French market has plenty of options on offer. One favorite is Lorette et Jasmin — a handbag rental and consignment boutique. This is the perfect place to rent bags from brands like Hermes, Chanel, and Dior, or to sell your high-end accessories for a fair price. Finally, in Spain, you’ve got efimeroclub — offering both subscription (from €69 per month) and per-item options. 

There are countless other options on the market, all waiting to be tapped. What remains to be seen is how sustainable the rental model is for high-end fashion. Our bet? They’ve got it in the bag.

Your Money at N26

Want a luxury banking experience without the cost? With N26, all your finances are just a tap away. With intuitive Spaces sub-accounts, allocating funds for specific goals not only makes it easier to reach your targets, it also helps you rein in spending as you work towards your goals. Additionally, Insights helps you to understand your finances, track your expense, and create budgets, making it even easier to stay on track. Achieve your goals and build a more secure future today with an N26 account.

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