This Week's Obesession: The Luxury Sharing Economy

This Week's Obesession: The Luxury Sharing Economy

A blog by Elle Tucker, author of Thanks for Sharing

The sharing economy and luxury – at first glances, these two concepts don’t really fit together. After all, if you can afford something luxurious, why would you want to share it? And more importantly, why would you need to share it?

The answer is, you wouldn’t. But the sharing economy isn’t just about saving – or making money. And that’s why luxury sharing works so well…

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First of all, what even is the sharing economy? You’re reading this Covett Weekly Obsession, so you’re probably already familiar with the concept, but if you’re not, here’s a quick explainer. The sharing economy means using technology – in the form of an app or an online platform – to connect with other people to borrow, rent or swap or in the case of Covett x FrontRow, co-owning instead of buying. 

In other words, it’s anything which could be described as ‘the Airbnb of…’ like listing your clothes on a website for others to borrow, or renting a car from your neighbour via an app.

It’s certainly catching on – the total value of the global sharing economy is predicted to increase to around 335 billion US dollars by 2025, from only 15 billion US dollars in 2014*. That’s a big increase, and it shows that people are starting to understand how sharing creates abundance for all. 

One of the most obvious benefits of using the sharing economy is that it can make – or save – you money. But, as mentioned above, that’s not always what’s most appealing. It also allows us to get more use from things (or ‘assets’) that we don’t use very much, or don’t use at all. The fact is, the world has too many things in it, and when people transact with one another rather than a business, and share use of the same ‘thing’, it slows down the production of more of them.

And not only that, sharing means we get the chance to ‘dip in’ to something and experience it briefly, without commitment. Enjoy something briefly, then move on to something else – no commitment. And that’s why it works for luxury goods so well. Sharing is like a brief, passionate affair with anything from a watch, to a yacht, to a designer bag… And what could be more appealing than that?

So, if you’re ready to dip a toe in the world of luxury sharing… Where to start? Here are four ways to get a taste of a luxury life.

Home is where the luxe is

The wonderful world of high net worth means you are likely to have more than one place to lay your head. And the great thing about that is that when you’re not using one home, you can ‘share’ (or rent out) another. Why? Not necessarily because you need the cash, but because by doing so, you get to show off your wonderful décor – and join a community of luxury home sharing where you can experience other people’s interior design too. Check out Smiling House, THIRDHOME or onefinestay.


Life imitates art

If you thought that investing in art was something for other people – think again. Investing fractionally in art has been made possible by the sharing economy and its associated technology. So now, rather than having to buy a painting and hang or store it yourself, you can own part of it, enjoy that you have access to it – and reap the rewards when it increases in value. Investigate Masterworks, mintus or Maecenas.

Shut up and drive

Nothing says luxury like a classic car. They represent the kind of quality and elegance we normally associate with a bygone era. But – they are also expensive to run, unreliable and unfortunately, not always that safe. That’s where the sharing economy comes in. There are plenty of classic car owners out there who would love to give you a spin in their Aston Martin, or even let you take it out on your own. That way, you get the experience, without the price tag (or the mechanic bill). Try BookAclassic, Vinty, or for a trip around London in a classic mini, Small Car Big City.

 It’s how you wear it

Clothing is perfect for sharing. After all, who wants to be seen in the same dress or jewellery too often? Designer pieces tend to be good quality, so they wear well and are ideally suited to having multiple owners. More, of course allows you to access luxurious bags through co-ownership. But we won't stop there, in time we will offer jewellery and clothing on the More platform.  More believes in a fully circular wardrobe.  For items we wear once we will rent them, this is especially great for very expensive items that will only sit in our closets. For items we wear all the time we will purchase them, new or pre-loved and we will repair them, and we will sell them when we no longer need them.For items we love that we want to wear often, we will co-own them with More.

 Beyond Saving Money or the Planet

Interestingly enough, the sharing economy's main promise isn’t about frugality or saving the planet - although both are the case. It’s also about pushing the boundaries of customers’ expectations of what a good service is. The seamlessness, flexibility and convenience that sharing provides is something that new affluents now came to expect and demand from their legacy luxury brands as well.

The white-glove, invisible concierge, one-step-ahead-of-you service without the burdens of ownership, like worrying about depreciating assets, is how sharing economy is going to win in luxury. 

The luxury of sharing may attract those who want to try out different things before they invest money into a high-end purchase. It may attract a restless, easily-bored globe-trotters. It may attract honeymooners looking for a week of luxury.  It may attract experience-seekers set on actively curating their own identity. Or it may attract those old-school affluents who did their math and concluded that they are better off sharing.

In all likelihood, it will continue to attract all of the above, making the nascent luxury sharing economy market a high growth potential. Its emerging business models and revenue streams will revolve around offering products on demand as a service (versus just selling them), partnerships and tie-ups, motivating a marketplace, and new service value-adds. Today, due to legacy brands’ corporate inertia, this market is exposed to newcomers, like More, which have been quick to seize the opportunity. These smart upstarts are well on their road to relevancy with the next generation of affluents as they redefine what the modern luxury is and how we enjoy it.

Speaking of luxury, why not own a Chanel. 

The Chanel Mini Kelly Shopper 

Retail Price £5950 | More Share Price £1309

Eleanor Tucker is author of Thanks for Sharing: How I Gave Up Buying and Embraced Borrowing, Swapping and Renting, on the advisory board of the CBI Sharing Economy council and a consultant specialising in sharing economy businesses.