Do you need to hop a private jet to Las Vegas, stay in someone’s penthouse crib and borrow that perfect Gucci bag for the weekend? The rise of the sharing economy has spread far beyond AirBnB and ThredUp. Luxury goods and services have emerged within the collaborative consumption movement in the past few years, and the chances are high they will stay around for a long time.
While many are still reticent to display conspicuous consumption even four years after the nadir of the global financial crisis, interest in accessing them is growing. Increased convenience is helping to drive the trend - among fashionistas who live far from high-end stores in the larger metropolitan areas. Various services covering transportation and accommodation, as well as clothing and accessories, offer a treasure trove of luxurious and fashion-forward, if not temporary, goods and services.
So start planning that getaway weekend on Social Flights. According to the site, over 15,000 users have access to 600 private aircraft that have room for a few more people in a Cessna or even a helicopter. The service claims it can schedule last minute trips without the hassle of dealing with the commercial airlines for about the same price. Some of the participating air carriers sound as if they would be in a novel, such as American Business Airways or HarmonyAir. Once they land, the passengers could hop into a shared town car service such as Uber or Exotic Car Share. Alas, one luxury car sharing service, HiGear, shut down after a criminal ring infiltrated the company, bypassed background checks and stole some cars; since then the company’s assets were sold to Rent2Buy. Of course, if a trip requires a water route, Voyage Yacht Share is a membership service that provides access to luxury yachts and marinas 28 days a year.
Once you arrive, you'll need a place to crash, but you can skip Couchsurfing this round. If you hopped the pond from London to New York or vice versa, OneFineStay offers flats, penthouses or brownstones in both cities’ exclusive neighborhoods, which now include the East End and Brooklyn. Exclusive Exchanges, with property owners spread from Whistler to Marrakech, has more of a global presence, offering villas or a pad that should be in Dwell or Architectural Digest. Should you need some booze and have plenty of time to make it, you can even score a few rows of grapes in Napa and become involved in the winemaking process, thanks to The Napa Valley Reserve.
Once your travel itinerary and accommodations are sorted, you have got to look presentable. Refashioner is a “curated shopping community” offering everything from outerwear to suits to lingerie and swimwear (the last two are with tags, i.e., unworn, of course) as well as a bevy of shoes and accessories from which members can choose. Bag Borrow or Steal focuses more on the accessories side, with jewelry and designer handbags leading the offerings. Guys should not feel left out: Tie Society boasts a large collection of neckwear.
Not all of the high end luxury goods sharing services will survive--as with any new market trend, there will be a shakeout as what was once a dismissed as a fad becomes a commodity. And mind you, it is not simply a matter of signing up and driving that Ferrari the next day to that deluxe apartment in the sky--you most likely will be vetted. Yet, the brilliance of these sharing services is that more folks making higher incomes are becoming aware of the impact that their consumption has on people and the environment. And for the rest of us, sometimes a little splurge, as in a Fendi handbag for that local fundraising gala or a quick weekend away to Vegas for a friend’s or spouse’s birthday, is a fab way to experience the good life without the massive budget. The champagne life is possible . . . on a microbrew budget.
Leon Kaye, based in Fresno, California, is a sustainability consultant and the editor of GreenGoPost.com. He also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost). He will explore children’s health issues in India next month with the International Reporting Project.
[Image credit: SocialFlights.com]