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Renting brand-name items getting popular

15 Comments
By Taro Fujimoto

Japanese women might be famous in the world for being the most obsessed over brand-name bags and accessories. Some of them travel abroad to take advantage of cheaper prices. However, amid the recession, some women are adopting a more cost effective consumer behavior -- borrowing brand-name items for limited use and time, which is a U.S. business model.

“Second-hand brand-name items are now widely accepted in Japan as online auction and recycling companies are increasing,” says Mitsue Iwata, president of Newell Corp, whose “Cariru” service lends brand bags and jewelry items. “Some of our customers live in residential areas for relatively rich people. We even ship our items to families of politicians. We imagined that those who cannot afford to buy brand items would make us of our service at first.”

Launched in June, Cariru, whose name comes from the Japanese “kariru” (borrow), currently has about 450 members. About 85 people make use of its service every month. The service deals with approximately 170 items from 14 brands such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton, renting individual items for 1,000 to 40,000 yen a week. The items even include a Hermes’ Birkin bag worth 1 million yen, which is only for premium members. Iwata says items for 1,000 to 6,000 yen a week are most popular.

Iwata says buying brand-name items at individual brands’ own stores used to be common among people. But due to the recent recession, many people are rethinking the value of second-hand brand-name items. “In a difficult economic situation, fewer people can afford to buy luxury items. Even those who can afford it might think they should borrow what is necessary only when it is needed.”

Iwata says her customers make use of rental bags for occasional events, such as PTA parties and re-union meetings. Some of them borrow Cariru’s items as a sort of trial so they can decide whether to buy them or not.

Iwata used to work for a subsidiary company of major international trading company Itochu Corp as a dealer for brand items after she graduated from the University of Boston. She quit the company after her marriage and pregnancy but started a home business, importing brand-name items and auctioning them on the Internet. Facing a decline in business, Iwata switched her business to a rental service with existing products.

“I found the growing rental business for brand-name bags in the United States last year, which was surprising to me because I never saw ordinary Americans with such items when I was a student there,” says Iwata. “Japanese must love brand-name items more than Americans do.”

Iwata sees big potential for her business in Japan. “America’s ‘Bag Borrow or Steal’ service now has 700,000 members who pay $5 for monthly membership. Their profits include rental charges and direct sales.” She thinks Cariru could increase its membership to 2,500 and mark 5 million yen in sales a month by next June.

Iwata, however, has localized the U.S.-origin business model for Japanese consumers. “Price comparisons between retail stores and our prices are a must for online shopping. We also grade the condition of each item because Japanese people care about it.” As a result of those efforts, about 30% of Cariru users end up buying the rental items.

Cariru is currently targeting women consumers but is considering increasing its line-up f items for men. It also plans to launch an English inquiry and order process in December for foreign customers in Japan. Iwata says Cariru’s members are steadily increasing in the current unpredictable economic situation.

For further information, visit: www.cariru.jp

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.


15 Comments
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Did not know America had a bag borrow steal sort of thing going on. Talk about shallow, I guess image is everything for many Jp women. Sad.

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OMG...the J women had gone to that extent....yea..I agree with you rjd jr, image is everyting for them...what a pathetic way of life...:)

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Great business, I pity the customers.

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Too bad Japan, Inc. didn't jump on this idea. Being afraid of thinking “outside of the box” has let this innovative idea slip through your hands. I am sure once this thing gets really big, the big stores will offer something similar, but by that time, they will be following the trend instead of setting following them.

Still even though this is innovative, I think it is still somewhat shallow. If you have to really fake the image of a hand bag that costs me 40,000 yen to rent, then I probably don't need it. You can take that money, go to Hong Kong, and get a knock off and still have money left over, and still get the same effect. Why, renting one that is not yours is just about the same as owning a fake one. I say go with owning the fake one.

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What does it say about a society where people who cannot afford high end bags need to rent them in order to make the right impression. You know what is says? Is says "This society is shallow". And that is just about dead on.

We should judge each other based upon the strength and honor of our character. We should admire creativity, sincerity, generocity, empathy, intelligence, kindness, manners and human character.

If we reduce everyone to the brand of his or her clothing and accessories, then we buy into only the shallow surface and we miss opening ourselves to the qualities that truly matter. And we may miss that wonderful genious who wears only Muji but creates art that will outlast his lifetime. Or the badly dressed girl with messy hair who plays music with a grace and feeling that can truly touch someone.

If my social position in Japan can only be achieved by opening doors only available with brand fashion and bags as keys, then I will happily remain in my world where the doors are opened by the nature of my personality and where I judge the people around me by who they are and now what they can afford to wear.

Shame on humanity for being so shallow and devoid of true dignity. Japan, you are the worst of this shallow class. What a shame.

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tkoind -- Very well said.

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This business model will simply fail in Japan. There's no point in having a different purse every month if it's not yours and everyone you know knows it. The business model works in the US because people are simply more superficial about it. Temporary image is the goal.

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I just carry plastic bags when I travel. Got nothing to prove to anyone.

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bear in mind the pure bloodline..... the make up trend and this sort does their status thing, or settles independence. So many to choose from, but all the same really.

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"If you have to really fake the image of a hand bag that costs me 40,000 yen to rent, then I probably don't need it. You can take that money, go to Hong Kong, and get a knock off and still have money left over, and still get the same effect. Why, renting one that is not yours is just about the same as owning a fake one. I say go with owning the fake one."

Going with the fake one would be spotted in a minute by those who own these things. And it would be far more embarassing o get caught at that special occaission with a fake. My wife has about 6 LVs and can spot a fake better than J-Customs.

"This business model will simply fail in Japan. There's no point in having a different purse every month if it's not yours and everyone you know knows it. The business model works in the US because people are simply more superficial about it. Temporary image is the goal."

Clearly you know little about women and fashion, if a woman could change her purse to something new each month she'd be in heaven.

BTW fashion just like makeup is a shallow thing we all inherited from antiquity. Its not purely some American thing. Japan just takes it to a high art.

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Nothing wrong with selling these expensive brand name items, if the rich are the ones buying them. That way they get to spend money. But when a poor person is envious of the rich and want to have soemthing they can not afford, it defeats the purpose. See, the rich only want to spend if it is something that will bring attention to themselves. The poor people should not be promoting these companies when they can not affor them.

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VoXman,

"Clearly you know little about women and fashion, if a woman could change her purse to something new each month she'd be in heaven."

Actually, clearly you know little about women and fashion. This is the attitude I'd expect from men and women who know little about fashion. The customers who use this service are not fashionable women, even though they are frugal and interested in the novelty. People invariably lose interest, if they had any to begin with. This service has been around for years, and has about as much market momentum as most dot com efforts (i.e. novel at first, niche or collapse years later)

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Gooooooddddd..... it s wrong.....But keep on doin it..your place in the food chain is quite obvious...

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Bdiego,

If what you say is true about fashion then nothing that comes off the runway is truly fashion since none of it relates to what people actually buy. Customers using the service has nothing to do with fashion, since when I used the word in my post I meant it as metaphor for what they see as their ideal "look". Meaning having that purse that every other OL wishes they had. Whether these people are fashionable or not is your opinion, since in fact it is a matter of opinion. And though they may lose interest in the concept clearly there is a niche market for it. And intead of using dot.coms as an anology, I would have used "Pet clothing" stores its a much better example to use. We are in Web 2.0 now. Dot.com days are over, or did you not get the news. Google.com at 300 billion net worth is one of the most valuable companies in the world.

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some women are adopting a more cost effective consumer behavior—borrowing brand-name items for limited use and time

pathetic!

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