Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Bag Borrow or Steal

Via the ever enterprising Bag Lady, I found this website, Bag Borrow or Steal, which functions approximately on the same principle as Netflix: borrow up to three (or five) bags a month for a set fee, except you're also paying shipping and handling, about $10/bag. You also have to enroll for at least 3 months when you start, during which you can borrow 3 bags/mo, only one of which can be Couture; after that, you can borrow up to 5 bags/mo. They offer insurance at extra cost.

Scarpediem did a little research for you and here's what transpired.

There are 4 types of membership:

- Trendsetter, which for about $25/mo gives you brands like JLo, BabyPhat (oh, the humanity!), but also some cheaper Coach and Dooney & Burke and other usual suspects such as Nine West, The Sak, Juicy Couture, Guess, and Hilfiger. Assuming you borrow 1 bag/mo, this will set you back about $420/yr; add $10 for ever other time you want to borrow an extra bag.

- Princess, for about $50/mo: you get the more expensive Coach, Dooney & Burke, and Juicy, as well as Tod's, Francesco Biasia, Cole Haan, Donald J Pliner, Michael Kors, BCBG, and even some Rafe and Isabella Fiore. Again, for 1 bag/mo, this will take you back $720; add $10 for ever other time you want to borrow an extra bag.

- Diva for $100/mo will get you Celine, Hogan, Botkier, Luella, Louis Vuitton, the more upscale Isabella Fiore and Cole Haan, Kooba, Bottega Venetta and Kate Spade, plus some Chloe, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, YSL, Chanel, Tanner Krolle, and Hermes. Not bad, but you have to budget at least $1320/yr; add $10 for ever other time you want to borrow an extra bag.

- Three levels of Couture membership, whose comparative advantages are not well explained (or at all!) on the site; I suspect you have to call Help for that. At any rate, they are Couture 1, for $185/mo, Couture 2, for $245/mo, and Couture 3, for $285/mo, or, to put it in perspective, at a rate of 1 bag/mo only, $2320, $3060, $3540/year respectively (wow! it gives me the shivers just to type that! what do you get for that amount of money--do you get to make your bed out of Hermes and Dior bags? oh well). At any rate, the Couture collection includes, yes, all the usual suspects: Fendi spy bags, Dior gaucho saddle bags, YSL Muses, quilted Chanel and Marc Jacobs, Chloe satchels, boring Luis Vuittons, prim and proper Jimmy Choos and Balenciagas, shiny Judith Leibers and Guccis, Luellas and Dolce & Gabbanas padlocked to the teeth, demure Pradas.

Oh, and at the end, they give you the option to buy a bag ("steal" it) if you really really like it and if you agree to their price.

I was both drawn and repelled by the idea. After all, I'm one that can't ever buy vintage shoes, or any type of pre-owned shoes (brrrr!), and the idea of sharing bags isn't that far behind. Also, if I really really like a bag, I'll make the effort to buy it--if it's within my means, of course. And I think I'd look kind "off" with a really expensive bag paired with my beloved Banana Republic jeans. Or is it just me? If I really had the kind of money to buy a Dior Gaucho bag, I'd probably spring for, you know, more expensive outfits, too. And I'm just not that kind of person. Yet.

Finally, for the kind of bags I'm drawn to at the moment, such as this somewhat over-the-top Isabella Fiore:
- I would need at least a Diva membership, and I think I'd rather use the money to buy the bag and forget about it. I also tend to get attached to objects I really like, so it would sadden me to have to return a bag I can't afford.

After all these rationalisations, there is still something more deeply disturbing about the idea: the recognition that fashion is so fleeting we don't even bother to form attachments to the objects of our affections, since designers will force us to forget all about them next season, with the "next hot trend" etc. It reflects our chameleonic nature, the desire to conform to what's "hot" at the moment rather than take time to reflect on the objects we own, or we would like to own. It's consumerism sans ownership, since ownership means attachment, and we can't be attached--not to fashion, anyway, since it can betray us come Spring or Fall.

That is, if this site catches on. I'll be curious if they'll be thriving in a year or so. Time will tell.


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