BENGALURU: Weddings bells are ringing this season and brides with their grooms are all set to take their vows. And this season, brides are choosing to be less sentimental and savvier, by renting out their wedding attire and jewellery.
Rental boutique stores see 15-20 brides walking in every month, during the peak season. On an average, a decent wedding dress and adequate jewellery to go with it can cost anywhere upto Rs 1 lakh. And brides these days have grown to realise that these outfits last only for a day. "The main reason for the increase is that customers don't want to spend so much money on their costume and they want to use money wisely" says Garima Maheshwari, the owner of The Bride Fashion Boutique at Koramangala.
She started her business in 2009 and expects the business to grow drastically in the coming years. While the brides come from varied backgrounds, according to Garima, lehengas are the most popular attires rented out by south Indians because they are identified as north Indian wear and are not expected to be used again. An interesting aspect of these attires are that they cost between Rs 2,500-4,000 and can even be customized as well. Yathish Jogi, the owner of Bhavani Kangan in Basavanagudi, says that he receives five to seven customers every day during peak wedding seasons. With around 500 sets of jewellery the cost of renting one piece varies from Rs 800-5,000.
"Gold is too expensive nowadays and there is more collection in artificial jewellery compared to gold and the investment is also much better here," he says. According to him majority of the customers prefer traditional jewellery and these are booked 15 days to one month in advance in the period of 24 hours. "Bookings are also full during the peak season," he adds. According to these boutique owners, 90 per cent of the customers are from Bengaluru.
*No to heavy trousseau*
One of the clients, a 30-year-old doctor from Maharashtra rented a lehenga last year for three days. "I browsed through many outfits but I either didn't like it or it was too expensive," she says.
She also adds that most of the time the outfit ends up being a one-time wear, like her sister's wedding wear. Also, these clothes are too heavy and she found no sense in wasting money on them. Although her parents were hesitant about renting, they eventually agreed. But, they were not okay with renting jewellery because they wanted something authentic for her special day.
Twenty-six-year-old software engineer, who has been living in the city for five years, has rented both the costume and the jewellery for her and her friends on her wedding day, which was in December last year. "Personally, I felt it was not a good idea to buy a new lehenga, because I was getting a good design that cost between Rs 6,000 and Rs 7,000 for the dress," she says. She also added that she received fairly good feedback from her well-wishers through the boutique website and on social media.
Eighty per cent of these brides work in corporates, and rent out because they travel around and feel that it is inconvenient to carry around heavy clothes everytime they shift, according to boutique store owners. Rental shops are finding it difficult to meet the rise in demand and specifications of brides, and then having to deal with damaged returns.
Bengaluru-based fashion stylist and choreographer, Prasad Bidapa, agrees that renting attires for brides from middle-class families may be a good idea because weddings these days include 3-4 ceremonies. However, he explains, purchasing at least one saree and one ornament is a must to mark the occasion which will be of sentimental value, and which can be passed on to other members of the family. "I admire the Coorg (Kodagu) community in this aspect because they don’t want to show-off their outfits and it has been passed on for generations, which I believe is a lovely tradition to follow," he says. "You must have some markers in your life instead of renting everything and leaving no roots behind," he adds.
Weddings these days have been Bollywood-ized, and department stores stock designs 'inpired' by collections of India’s top wedding designers such as Sabyasachi Mukherjee, Neeta Lulla and Manish Malhotra. In Bengaluru, the wedding market is tailored to people who can afford it and middle-class brides buy the knock-off pieces, says Prasad. In terms of the rentals having an impact on the market, "only the knock-off market will get affected if anything," he explains.
Average cost for renting attire: Rs 2000-5000
Average cost of purchasing outfit: Rs 25000-1,00,000
Average cost of gold- up to Rs 3 lakh
Cost of renting imitation jewellery- up to Rs 10,000
Pros of renting:
One-time usage of the outfits
Affordable and cost-efficient
More variety in collections
Can be customized according to customer wishes
Lack of a mark on the special day
Can be easily damaged
No authenticity as a style-icon
Cannot be passed on to family members