Aug 1, 2008

India - Rent-a-brand

They're deep in debt to sustain their brand addictions and now Delhi's Gen Z are renting out their luxe belongings to earn some extra cash. The capital city's brand babes, whose need to "create an impression" overrides all else, are into flashy cars, branded 'it' gizmos and international labels. But the problem is, most of then cannot afford these luxuries.
For some, like 28-year-old hotelier Akshay Sahni*, this flirtation with high-end brands resulted in a buying spree which in turn landed him in debt of over Rs 2 lakh.
"On our maiden shopping venture, not only did my 'rich' girlfriend buy brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Armani but she also wanted me to stock them in my wardrobe! And my salary is around Rs 35,000..." But all was not lost, for a friend was looking to rent branded stuff for dinner with his boss.
Sahni, not only let him "borrow" his tux, but also his "girlfriend's favourite" Mont Blanc pen for a couple of extra grand. And in the process, joined the burgeoning ranks of "brand lenders".
Up for grabs
Everything that has a label is up for grabs. And why not - there are so many takers. Take Isha Kapadia*, a self-confessed brand addict, who found this a convenient way out for her "expensive" indulgence.
"Earlier I spent more than I earned on brands, raking up huge credit card bills. Now I 'borrow' them." So what merits "borrowing" a Louis Vuitton bag (Rs 5,000) or a pair of Jimmy Choos (Rs 10,000)?
"It could be anything - a first date, a fancy luncheon, or even a casual night out. Who doesn't want the P3 image?" says 20-year-old Ashu Sharma. "Brands add to my confidence," says Kapadia. "An iPhone at meetings or Jean Paul Gaultier at parties..."
Wise choice Investment consultant Kartik Chawla says, youngsters are wising up. Even if they can afford it, they now rent things, preferring to invest instead." For example, Himanshu Malik - who has many takers who want to 'ride' his latest set of wheels for Rs 5,000 a day - does it to make an extra buck he can invest. His success mantra: "They get to flaunt different cars on special occasions, with no paperwork. In case they want to extend the loan by a day or two,chalta hai."But others are not as laid back and despite deposits need constant reassurance that their goods, especially branded clothes, will be returned in "the same condition".
Another problem is finding the right size. But these are only small hiccups in what looks set to become a booming business for Delhi youngsters.

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