With the dreaded Coronavirus showing no signs of letting up, things we never gave a second thought to before Covid-19 have suddenly become potentially risky. To go or not to go to grandma’s house? To queue or not to queue at Shake Shack? To cancel or not to cancel your regular appointment at your manicurist? To rent or not to rent your usual clothes and bags?
While I’m a big fan of variety and a greener wardrobe, which means not buying too many clothes and bags and thus renting at least 60 per cent of my #OOTDs, the virus situation got me thinking: How safe are the clothes and bags we rent? After all, they’ve been rubbed, used and sneezed on by many, and have encountered possibly unhygienic conditions and surfaces.
A check by 8days.sg on Style Theory’s app shows they take their cleanliness pretty seriously. As one of Singapore’s clothes rental pioneers, who also more recently launched a designer bag rental service, there’s a tab on their home page called “Our hygiene transparency” which details how they maintain cleanliness and safety, which is now more important than ever. According to them, all returned clothes are inspected, then put through a seven-step process by Jeeves Dry Cleaners to be sterilised, cleaned and pressed. And although clothes and bags are packed into boxes which may be reused (’cos sustainability), the boxes are cleaned after every use with anti-bacterial sprays and disinfectants, and packed with care. All boxes are then sealed before being sent out for delivery.
Bags are handled with gloves and masks to minimise damages and avoid transfer of germs, and are cleaned before delivery and upon return. Extra precautionary hygiene measures have also been taken by Style Theory in this time of Covid-19: All operation staff have their temperatures taken daily, and are provided with surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitizers for use during work, and are instructed about proper disposal of protective equipment.
All this is enough to make me quite confident that if I rent clothes or bags from Style Theory, I should be safe. Couple this with the fact that experts say there is low risk of Coronavirus spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days at ambient temperatures, due to the poor survival of the virus on surfaces. Still, whenever I receive a package at home, I put it down on the floor and wash my hands with soap for 20 seconds. I usually only open the package a few hours later. Just extra kiasu precautions in a weird and scary time.
So here’s what else I learned about renting designer bags — just sharing so you can make your own decisions about whether to rent that Chanel or Prada, once social distancing is less of a buzzword and we can all dress up and go out again.
#1: Owning a designer bag is over-rated.
Yes, I have a few designer bags. Invariably, I get tired of them, no matter how much I love any one of them at any particular point in time. Also, they get worn out and lose their shine. And they go out of style, with the exception of a few uber-classics. With a Style Theory Bags subscription, which is $129 a month, I rented an oversized Celine bag and a Prada clutch in one month (you get to rent two bags a month). That was fun. It made me realise — I really don’t need to own bags. I just need to pretend I own them for a while.
#2: If you rent an expensive designer bag, you’re likely to actually use it.
My own Chanel 2.55 is packed away and hardly sees the light of day. I love it, but it’s cream-coloured. I can’t risk getting it dirty. I don’t want to schlep it around for everyday use and leave it on unsavoury surfaces. But I rented a black Chanel Jumbo Lambskin Easy Flap bag (you have to pay an extra $80 a month on top of the $129, as this is in Style Theory Bags’ more exclusive collection), and I have no problem with hauling it everywhere. Call it gross human nature or whatever you want, but when something doesn’t quite belong to you, you’re just less precious about it. Of course, I have to look after the rented bag as well. If the bag is damaged or soiled while in your possession, you may have to fork out extra cash for cleaning and repair. Also, each bag comes with a card that details its minor blemishes, so as long as you return the bag in that condition, you’re good.
#3: No one will judge you for carrying a rented bag. They won’t even know it.
It’s 2020. Bag-sharing and clothes-sharing is acceptable and even lauded, ’cos you’re helping to cut down on waste and reduce excessive buying and consumerism. And if you don’t choose to tell people your Prada isn’t really your Prada, it’s unlikely anyone will be the wiser.
#4: The bag you rent can be pretty telling.
There are over 2,000 designer bags to choose from. It’s pretty daunting. Should you go for a statement bag, a classic or something that’s currently in? Should you get something practical for work or fun for going out? Hermes or Off-White? Gucci or Goyard? I found that I rented completely different bags each time, which tells me I value variety. You could find yourself renting only Loewes, which is sorta a little personality test for you too.
#5: It’s great to be able to ‘shop’ online without fear of making a big mistake. If you don’t like the bag, just return it. No biggie.
I’ve paid for an expensive bag to be shipped from the UK, only to hate it upon its arrival. Too bad. With rented bags, if you make a mistake and get a bag you don’t love, which is part of the fun (or not) of shopping online, just rent another one. And during the Coronapocalypse , online shopping is really the way to go, isn’t it?