Sunday, March 7, 2010

Designer Handbags -- Is Renting Better Than Buying?

Well, potentially, yes.

But it does depend on what you want out of your designer handbags.

Are you the type of handbag lover who enjoys collecting? Do you gain a huge boost each day when you go to your closet and try to work out which bag you'll carry today, a huge rush of satisfaction warming your insides as you survey your collection of shapes, sizes and colors?

Or do you use a handbag to finish off your outfit for the day? Each bag has a specific function or role to be used for, beyond which it rarely sees the light of day?

If you are the first type of handbag lover, one who delights in collecting and owning handbags, then I suspect renting them is not for you in the main. Maybe as a quickie solution to solving a particularly knotty "What would go with this outfit" problem as you buy a one off outfit for a wedding or dinner.

But if you are the latter type of handbag lover, one who's not so worried about possession but is keen to have a huge selection available and to be able to "duck and dive" in your choice of handbag, renting would be almost ideal for you.

Although the principles of renting have been around since Ugg rented some space on the side of his friend Urg's Brontosaurus, to advertise his new fangled idea of round stone wheels, the idea of renting handbags is relatively new.

Currently there are three major Handbag Rental sites available online, with more sure to appear before long.

So -- how does it work?

Well, to begin with, you have to become a member of the site in order to be able to rent their bags.

The level of membership you join under dictates which bags you are allowed to rent. The more you pay in membership fees each month, the more you get back -- so to speak. Sort of like life really!

So, if you join at the basic membership level (around about $19.99 per month on average) then you'll have a selection -- depending on which rental site you joined -- of about 100 low name designers. (Bear in mind that although there may be some similarity here and there, what one rental company classes as low name designer, another may not and vice versa. It's worth looking around before you take membership of one particular site to see what bags they list at each level.)

Designer labels we've seen at the basic level across the different rental sites have been ones such as Balenciaga, Brighton, Vittadini, Spader, Aitken and one even had Coach bags listed at this level!!

Now, I think in all sensibility you need to be fairly realistic when it comes to those high quality and expensive designer names that you expect to be ale to rent from sites such as these.

If you're expecting to find Hermes, Versace, Louis Vuitton and high end Chanel on them -- you might just have to think that one through again. (Especially the Hermes!!)

But this isn't to say that you can't find good, solid names on there. Dior, Gucci, Chanel, Fendi, Juicy Couture are all available on one rental site or another.

So -- you've set your membership level and started drooling over the bags. What happens next?

Once you've chosen a bag that you'd like to rent, you put in a request for a bag rental online at the site. The staff there check and make sure that the bag you want is available and, if it is -- bingo. Two to three days later, a UPS man arrives at your door, bearing gifts! (Didn't you ever listen to your mommy tell you never accept gifts from strange men! Tch!)

Once you have the bag you can keep it for as long as you like -- there is no minimum and no maximum period that you have to return the bag within.

Once you do decide that you've had enough of that particular one, simply search again, choose another bag that you like. Send back the one you currently have and they'll send out the next one by return. (Certain levels of membership on the different sites let you hire / rent two bags at the same time)

But -- shock horror gasp -- you've fallen in love with your new Hyanuki Shoulder Sling Bum bag and want to keep it. You can't give it up. Spots form in front of your eyes and you feel faint, slightly sick and deranged at the mere thought! Is skipping the country the only way you can keep hold of it?

Thankfully for you -- and the bounty hunters -- you CAN keep a bag that you grow attached to. Simply let the rental company know that you'd like a quote to buy and they'll make you an offer price, based on age, condition and popularity of the bag. If you can come to some agreement -- it's yours!

What about damage? Has little Tommy just emptied the contents of your Revlon No8 Blush Red nail varnish into the rented bag?? (Oops -- Tommy's about to get to see a lot of his room for the next few weeks!)

No worries -- just send the bag back to the rental company with a short, explanatory note and they get a quote on the cleaning cost. If you disagree with the price then you have an option to buy it 'as is', otherwise they go ahead and get it cleaned and you pay. Simple really.

(P.S. Is Tommy allowed out of his room yet? No? Oh, okay!)

So, is renting a designer handbag a good idea?

Well, let me put it this way. Is the Pope Catholic?

There you go then!

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