With priorities shifting for consumers, luxury brands are tapping into the rental model to stay relevant.
By 2026, luxury market consumers will be made up of 60% Millennials and Gen Z, according to research from Highsnobiety and Boston Consulting Group. Not only do these generations have different priorities than their older cohorts, but their lifestyles have also fundamentally changed over the last year. Their focus on sustainability and ethical consumption hasn’t wavered with the pandemic and they now have the added worry of a deep recession impacting their lives for years to come. So, in an effort to remain appealing and become more accessible, luxury brands are looking to offer their goods on a rental basis.
After seeing success in its hometown of Copenhagen last year, Danish fashion label Ganni recently announced the expansion of their rental service, Ganni Repeat, through a collaboration with Levi’s. The rental only capsule collection, available in Europe and North America, features upcycled denim pieces made from vintage Levi’s 501 jeans and has been dubbed “Love Letter.” Rentals start at $55 a week for up to three weeks and arrive at customers’ doors in reusable RePack packaging thus solidifying their luxury and sustainability credentials.
High-end retailers are also setting a stake in luxury rentals. In August, Selfridges launched its first in-house rental collection. Working with peer-to-peer lending service Hurr, the Selfridges Rental Collection will feature pieces from over forty designer brands for a fraction of the cost of buying outright. Starting at just £30, items can be secured for four, eight, ten or twenty days.
British luxury department store John Lewis announced in August that they are going to begin renting out furniture through a partnership with rental site Fat Llama. Over 50 items are available, from desks to couches to chairs, on 6- and 12-month contracts starting from £17 a month. When the rental period is over, products are cleaned and refurbished for the next renter.
With an increased focus on the home, Highsnobiety co-founder Jeff Carvalho predicts that furniture may take the place of fashion for luxury shoppers. On a recent episode of Digiday’s weekly show “The New Normal,” Carvalho said, “home goods are being coveted in the way that sneakers and clothes were being coveted…[Now] a coffee table can be seen as a desirable object.”
Furniture rentals are seeing a huge uptick, with the US-based start-up Feather experiencing a 400% increase in merchandise since lockdown began. And UK-based Harth, the design-focused interior pieces rental company, revamped their website and expanded their services in July, now allowing users to not only rent Harth’s pieces but also put their own up for rent and sale.
With the world still in the midst of highly uncertain times, younger consumers are seeking out low-risk and more sustainable ways to access the luxury products they covet. “Conscious consumerism is here to stay,” Hurr founder Victoria Prew told Bazaar. “Shoppers are looking for smarter, savvy alternatives to traditional retail and rental is a fun way to access fashion at a fraction of the price.”
Main image of Hurr Collective at Selfridges