The economic downturn has fueled a surge in leased luxury goods, Portfolio reports. A small membership fee or monthly payment enables designer addicts to rent It-bags and other high-end accessories at businesses like From Bags to Riches. "Instead of owning an asset you can just buy the experience," explains a CEO who thinks luxury-goods makers will move into the sector themselves.
Well-heeled customers looking for more variety—or those who wish to appear bigger than their bank account—pay weekly fees for handbags, watches and jewelry that generally rent for 10-15% of an item's retail price. That might not be much of a bargain: A Rolex rented for five months from one company could have been bought outright for the same price. (Read more luxury goods stories.)