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Bag, Borrow, or Steal — You Tell Me

Someone recently asked me what I thought of the site: Bag, Borrow, or Steal (also called Avelle) is a rental service for luxury goods. You can “borrow” (rent) things like Chanel sunglasses, diamond watches, and Gucci bags by the week or even the month.

I’m a big fan of renting certain big-ticket items rather than buying. For instance, if you must have an SUV because you take 2 week vacations in rough terrain, why not buy a much cheaper car and rent the SUV for 2 weeks? Or you can rent an HD-flat screen for your Super Bowl party instead of using the party as an excuse to buy.

On the one hand, I find myself liking the idea (not for me, I’m a low-maintenance girl, but in general). It saves you from having a closet full of clothes. It means you’ll get to have things–for a short period–that you’d otherwise never be able to afford. It’s like a special once-a-year dinner or renting a cabin by the shore.

But on the other hand, I also find myself asking whether there’s any good reason for one to do it. Unless you’re already spending a lot of money on buying these goods news, this is still going to cost you. Renting this lovely Gucci clutch costs $60.00/week or $175.00/month if you’re a member and $66.00/week or $191.00/month if you’re not. Plus, only 50% of what you pay would be applied toward purchasing it if you decide to “steal” it.

As a habit, it’s a very expensive one and it creates the impression that you have a lot more than you do. Those impressions don’t hold up well over time. And while it lets you enjoy a higher lifestyle, constantly using the service accustoms you to that lifestyle and may lead you to spend outside your means in other ways. If you need to create a good impression, it would probably be more worthwhile to spend that money on quality clothes.

There’s also the issue of wear-and-tear. The company asks that you treat their items with a little TLC–obviously if they want to make any money off it, they’ll have to keep things looking nice. They write “We understand that there will be everyday wear and tear and there is no additional fee assessed in these instances. However, if the item is abused, broken beyond everyday wear and tear or lost, your account will be charged a reasonable repair or replacement fee. Some items, however, are not easily replaceable and a fee, up to full retail replacement, may be charged.” As a person who sits on her sunglasses every few years, I know right away this is not for me (that’s why I buy cheap sunglasses!).

I’ve been trying to come up with an event where it might be worth my while to rent a $4k watch for $100/week, carry a Luis Vitton bag (only $165/week), and wear Chanel sunglasses (only $48/week). The best reasons I could come up with rent accessories would be either if I was going to an event and wanted something nice to go with my outfit (like a nice bracelet) but didn’t want to buy anything or if I felt like dressing up for kicks and had a budget for it. Every other reason had to do with social climbing or otherwise trying to make people believe I was something I’m not.

But maybe I’m not very creative when it comes to accessories. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, whether it’d be something worthwhile to you, whether there might be a few events were you could see renting nicer accessories, or whether you just can’t see a point to it.


Megan March 23, 2009 at 8:44 am

My first reaction is “this is stupid.” I understand the theory, but I suppose I have never seen the appeal in the high end brands, and in carrying something because of the brand and because it’s expensive.

I do like the idea of renting a sporty car or a fancy cabin while on vacation, but that’s more for the experience and the joy of using the item. Using a fast car and using an expensive purse are very different experiences.

But that’s just me. Such things are not important in my life. (Plus what if you break/lose/ruin the item??) For others, this might be just what they need. I suppose if we were talking about renting some very fancy bling to be worn with a ballgown for a special event, it might be worth it, but in my mind, I’m thinking along the lines of the crazy diamonds that stars borrow for awards shows, things where the item stands out for what it is, not for what brand it is.

Diane March 23, 2009 at 2:25 pm

I can definitely see the point of renting an SUV for a family vacation, rather than owning one for everyday use if it’s more car than you need regularly.

I could even see the point of renting a formal gown for a special event, rather than buying one for one-time use, though I’m not likely to do that.

As for renting jewelry, purses, etc – well, that’s just NOT me. I’m a low maintenance girl also, and I am who I am. I feel no need to pretend otherwise.

There’s no one I need to impress with my clothes, jewelry or accessories. If you don’t like me for who I am, then we probably have nothing in common anyway!

I don’t think I know anyone personally who would rent such items, but I’m not a big-city girl with a dress-to-impress job or social life.

Small Steps to Health March 23, 2009 at 5:19 pm

I have to agree that I do not want to come off as much wealthier than I actually am. As a matter of fact, my husband and I often come off looking like broke grad students when compare to my sister and her boyfriend.

My sister has the designer handbags and sunglasses (which I think she actually buys) even though she makes about 40% of what I do.

I don’t care if I look like I am just barely making it. When people think you are broke they do not expect you to treat when you go out to dinners. With my Chinese family, the “senior” at the dinner table is suppose to treat when you go out to dinners. Being the eldest child, I am often the most “senior” member when we go out to dinners with my sisters and their boyfriends. You can see why I do not want to look like a million bucks.

I do have a few really nice pieces of jewelry that I wear occasionally for special events.

Four Pillars March 23, 2009 at 8:41 pm

Like the other commenters it seems silly to me to rent/buy/steal a ridiculously expensive hand bag…

However – if someone “has” to have one and if renting makes more sense than buying – then it’s probably good financial move (for that person).

Penelope @ Pecuniarities March 24, 2009 at 5:14 am

I don’t move in circles requiring designer clothing and accessories, but even if I did, I think regularly renting is a waste of money. I’d probably go the outlet stores route where I could get the fancy things on sale.

I have a friend who lives in Las Vegas and owns scores of Gucci bags that she picks up at outlet stores for as low as $60 each. Of course, a lot of the less expensive items in outlet stores are probably last season’s, so if having the latest is important to you (something I don’t really understand), then I guess this wouldn’t work.

In any case, renting cars I understand. A tux every few years, too. But regularly needing to rent jewelry or handbags, that I don’t, because they’re accessories, not necessities.

Dawn March 24, 2009 at 11:40 am

Yep, I’m with the other gals. And like Penelope, I’d buy it at an outlet if I needed it *that* badly. The only reason I can see doing this is if you are in a career where high end items are expected like an actress or musician where photographers and others write about what you wear. For regular folks, this seems a bit silly.

TStrump March 24, 2009 at 11:56 pm

If you can’t buy it, rent it …
Anyways, it’s sad but some people are impressed with these luxury goods and it good enhance your career.
You could also buy and then sell at a consignment store later.

Kristy @ Master Your Card March 26, 2009 at 11:18 pm

I don’t see the value in this for everyday use; however, for a nice occasion that occurs once in a blue moon, maybe. Personally, I think spending that much on accessories, even at rental prices, is not a practice I want to get involved in. And, it’s fairly easy to accessorize outfits much cheaper than the rental on these high end products. So, this site isn’t for me – though occasionally I like to browse through their purse selections just to see what they have.

Karin March 27, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I think this is a great idea if you are considering purchasing the item and want to test it out. Maybe after two weeks you realize you don’t like it and that saves you money and you don’t feel deprived that you couldn’t afford it.

Pinky June 24, 2010 at 8:11 pm

I think it’s an AMAZING idea! I have a closet full of clothes for special events from proms, college galas, law school barrister balls etc etc…that I will only wear once. I love to wear the latest styles, and when the styles change every event, that means new clothes for every event, and new accessories to match, that you only wear once! With Facebook now, everytime you wear something its all over Facebook and after everyone has seen you in this $300 dress at an event on Facebook, you cant wear it again to the next event bc someone else will post a pic. So you need a new dress. May as well, save 50% of that dress price and rent the dress you really cant afford to buy! You save money and you look way better than anything you could have afforded to waste money on to own longterm. Now if you were only going to buy a $20 dress in the beginning, then go ahead. But for those with a social and/or social business life, this is actually a really impressive opportunity, particularly in this economy.

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gty August 4, 2010 at 9:52 am

it’s sad but some people are impressed with these luxury goods and it good enhance your career.

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