Why buy when you can hire!!

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 08 Oct 2015 11:00:39


July 7 By Banalata Bipani

With about one marriage per family every 20 years, India averages roughly one crore of marriages every year, costing 110000 crores of rupees. That means on an average, an expense of 110000 rupees (one lakh and ten thousand rupees) per marriage. The apparel market (wedding) is worth Rs 10,000 crore (bridal designer saree/lehenga for the bride cost: Between Rs 10,000 to 50,000. Designer shervani for the bridegroom cost: Rs 15,000 to Rs 40,000). That means for a marriage for the wedding the bride and bridegroom have to shell out atleast 50000 rupees for the dress alone.

For most Indians, this is a hefty sum to shell out. Another great handicap with the costly wedding apparel is that most of it languishes in boxes and almirahs throughout the year as you can seldom wear your marriage sari or lehenga to other marriages, the unwritten rule being that you must not outshine the bride/bridegroom of the day.


You not only have to buy outfits for the wedding ceremony, but you also need outfits for the sangeet, the reception, and the mehendi too. All your family members require new clothes too and so do the family servants and close relatives who are attending the wedding! Does that mean you keep spending all out on clothes for everyone?


In the subcontinent, a girl’s wedding is considered one of the most important moments in her life. Kamala Khaturia, a leading bridal wear designer of Bombay, points out that a girl’s family starts collecting her dowry since her birth. And this she has observed across social strata. “From electronics to jewellery to dresses, the girl has an entire wardrobe ready by her wedding day. So there is definitely pressure.” But even then, she says, there is a bare minimum that the family will have to spend.


And for the lower classes the minimum is very low. This is where Rent a Dress /Jewellery business is cashing on. Let us take hypothetically the case of Ramcharan& rsquo;s daughter, who is renting her wedding dress. The original price of the dress is in hundreds of thousands. But Ramcharan, who is a driver in a private company in Mumbai, earns Rs20,000 and for him to rent the dress for a mere Rs10,000 is more than a relief. “I admit I will be paying half my salary for the dress only, but it is much better than buying one. It is my daughter’s wedding after all and the occasion comes once in a lifetime.”


Through advertisements in newspapers, especially regional dailies, and flyers and posters, it seems as if the business of renting out clothes for weddings is on the rise. The target market is mainly the middle to lower income groups. Let us take the case of Grand Garments in New Delhi, a well known dress renting establishment. (name changed to protect identity) This firm rents out wedding and party wear for both men and women. It has a palette of ethnic and western fashion that includes designer lehengas, sarees, sherwanis and evening gowns.


Grand Garments has two stores in Delhi and customers can visit any one of them to book a garment. A security deposit equal to thrice the rental amount is collected, which is returned when the outfit is given back. Outfits are also altered by experienced tailors to custom fit a customer, but for that it must be booked in advance.


Rentals are for 48 hours spread over three days. A customer can collect the outfit a day before the occasion and return it the next day. Additionally, Grand Garments offers complimentary designer earrings with every lehenga or saree. Besides these, bridal sets are available too at a price. Garments are dry-cleaned twice- once when it is returned and once again before it is delivered to the next customer.


“We recommend collecting the outfit from the stores to ensure a perfect fit, but we also undertake deliveries at an additional charge,” says the proprietor Govind Malhotra. Customers are not required to pay anything extra if an outfit is inadvertently stained or damaged. “No customer will deliberately spoil an outfit. Generally, we find that people take care of the garment and so most damages are minor. However, if the damage is substantial, we take a call depending on the situation,” adds Malhotra.


The rental price of each garment is determined at approximately 15 to 20 percent of its retail value. So, typically the cost of renting an outfit can range from Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 10,000. For instance, if it is worth 10,000, the rental would be just Rs. 1,500. The busy season for the company is from October to February beginning from the festive period of Dussehra. The startup rents out 10 to 15 outfits per day during this season.


The same rules apply for the wedding jewellery also. No one need be under the assumption that the socially underprivileged sections are the ones who rent the gold ornaments. “No, it’s the rich looking ones who get the bigger chains,” says an employee of a jewellery renting firm. For the very rich there are problems of jewellery insurance. The insurance company rules are often very restrictive and there are a limited number of occasions ( usually five in an year) the rich can take out their jewellery, if they want the insurance to be valid.


When it comes to renting real gold jewellery, the jewellers/ fashion salons will deliver the jewellery at the your doorstep after you sign an agreement, containing photograph and details of the jewellery being taken on hire and your photograph, PAN card number, returnable deposit (if any) taken, details of guarantor (if any), charges, etc. Normally the renting out jeweller will allow a customer to keep the jewellery for a maximum of three days for an upfront fee ranging between 2 and 5 per cent of the value of the jewellery. If a customer wants to take the jewellery abroad, then he/she will be charged 10 per cent. Before handing over to the customer, the jewellery will be tested in front of him/her with the help of a laser-based analytical instrument and a print-out of the weight and composition of gold, silver, copper, and nickel is given to him/her. Similar procedure is repeated when the jewellery is returned by the customer. Why buy when you can Hire!


So, next time you go for a wedding, look hard, real hard, at the bride, the guests in resplendent gold/diamond jewellery and Benarasi sarees , but don’t pose queries, for etiquette’s sake! (Maharaja Features )