The collaborative economy is a trend in consumption that has also reached the luxury market. In this economically difficult time, the offer to enjoy without owning is growing, opening the market to those who could not afford the price before (or did not want to pay it).
From planes to purses, all the way to evening gowns, head-dresses, novelty and jewellery; the current trend is sharing and renting luxury.
The so-called collaborative economy is a trend in consumption that has been favoured by new technologies, the sensibility about a more responsible way of consuming, and the economic crisis. This new way of consuming has also reached the luxury market. There is an increasing offer to enjoy without owning − jets, luxury cars and even expensive jewellery−, opening the market to those who could not afford the price before (or did not want to pay it). From planes to purses, all the way to evening gowns, head-dresses, novelty and jewellery; the current trend is sharing and renting luxury.
When we talk about planes, cars or yachts, renting and sharing make a lot of sense. Not only because of the high sale Price, but also because those pleasures involve high maintenance expenses, regardless of their usage. It also seems the most logical choice in other categories, like fashion and accessories. From a very rational point of view, we only pay for the day we will use and enjoy that dress, those jewels or that purse.
In the last few years, new companies based on that consumption model have appeared, all over the world. Sharing jets and yachts was one of the first proposals offered to the so-called high-income individuals (HNWI). But this non-stoppable consumption model has already reached the watch industry. Eleven James, founded by a former Net Jets and Marquis Jet executive, allows us to redefine the experience of discovering and feeling a luxury watch. From $249/month, it allows almost everybody to enjoy three to six different watches per year. Among the offered brands, Rolex, Patek Philippe, IWC, or Vacheron Constantin.
A similar framework focused on jewellery is what Londoner Soleil dÓr proposes, granting exclusive access to a jewellery collection anywhere in the world. This French-named, but of-English-origin, brand presents itself as an invitation-only private club. Both platforms, besides granting us access to jewels and watches, are also a secondary market to dispose of our jewels, while giving them a new life for our.
In the Fashion industry, the queen of dress renting is Rent the Runway, born in US in 2009. It is an investment object for the most renowned venture capital funds; it has gotten more than $50 million for its development. This is just another proof of the perceived potential for this new way of consuming. In Europe we already have some local champions, such as Girl Meets Dress in UK, or 24 Fab in Spain. And then we have Etiquette or La más Mona following their steps. In a different league we have Innovias, focused on wedding gowns; they have opened their first México DF store in February.
Technology allows us to make a reality out of what was impossible before. This collaborative and shared consumption opens a new market. And the luxury brands welcome it because they do not see it as a competitor; they see it as a great ally. If we empty our wardrobes, we will feel like filling them up again… Out with the old, in with the new… Many people that did not think or could not afford purchasing a Marchesa dress, a Patek watch, or a Chopard jewel before, decide now to enjoy them for a limited time and pay just for that time.
It is the time not only for renting, but for recycling fashion. At the peak of collaborative economy, those web pages that offer us the possibility to sell our wardrobe are rising, whether they have charitable purposes or not. And what we sell is not old but vintage. It is valuable for both its uniqueness and its origin. The first customers for that kind of businesses have been people we admire, such as celebrities, actors, and famous people. They say they do not throw things away, they recycle. It and Vip, in Spain, follows the lead of Vestiaire Collective in France, one of the most successful investments of the Condenast group.
We have overcome the obsession with owning and we are embracing the interest for using. As a society, we have decided not only to extend the useful life of products, but to extend their variety of uses. Further, we like our things to live new lives and to be reinvented in the hands of their new owners.
Good news for the luxury market once again.