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All the glamour you can rent

Actress Helen Mirren at the Academy Awards, Feb. 25, 2007

MARK AUSTIN THOMAS: So who was Helen Mirren wearing at the Oscar's last night?Who made her handbag? Some of the styles seen on the red carpet on Sunday will be headed to a mall near you.Not for you to buy, but to lease. Marketplace's Nancy Farghalli reports.


NANCY FARGHALLI: Fashion can be as fleeting as a four-minute song.
[DAVID BOWIE: "Fashion" song . . . "Turn to the left. Turn to the right. Fashion."]

Take Fendi's baguette bag. Robert Burke is a luxury goods consultant.

ROBERT BURKE: We often kid in the industry that someone sends out an e-mail and tells everyone, "Stop buying that bag."

That's how quickly an "it" thing becomes fashionably icky.

BURKE: What we've seen is that the customer appetite for newness is greater than ever.

In fact, last year luxury sales jumped 10 percent. Some buy the good life. But, increasingly Burke says others are renting.

BURKE: Five or six or seven years ago people would not have thought of renting or leasing luxury automobiles. Today, 80 percent of BMWs and Mercedes are leased.

It's not just cars. It's accessories, too. Things like Gucci bags are now available from the leasing website Bag Borrow or Steal. To join, you pay a membership fee and then you can rent bags from anywhere between $30 to $275 a month. Think of it as temporary ownership without the purse strings of debt. Patricia Hambrick is the company's chief marketing officer.

PATRICIA HAMBRICK: Oftentimes women covet these wonderful handbags but, you know, are not able or willing to spend two or three thousand dollars for them.

And one store in Los Angeles has made a good business out of borrowing. Customers enter One Night Affair by appointment.

It's so exclusive that the parking lot is a size 2. There are more than 2,000 dresses for rent like this Vera Wang gown.

STORE EMPLOYEE: It's a real light, silk taffeta. So, it's really comfortable. . . .

It retails for $6,000. Jeff Gates is the store manager.

JEFF GATES: So, something that would retail in a department store for, let's say, anywhere from $700 to $1,500 can be rented here from anywhere from $75 to $175, anywhere between a sixth and a tenth of the retail price.

So you can get that Vera Wang dress for $995. Well, for five days.

I'm Nancy Farghalli for Marketplace.

About the author

Nancy Farghalli is an editor at Marketplace.

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