‘I always chose the most extravagant handbags’

Nichola Portelli’s Rent Luxury brings a new and sustainable designer concept to local fashion
Pre-loved designer handbags support a circular economy.

As the world reimagines fashion through a more sustainable lens, the concept of circular fashion emerges as a revolution in luxury wear. Renting high-end designer items not only offers an affordable, guilt-free indulgence, but also champions an environmentally responsible lifestyle.

The idea is not exactly a common one for Malta. Rent Luxury, the brainchild of Nichola Portelli, is probably the only local business offering this kind of service. Nichola focuses on handbags, making it possible for those who covet that designer bag retailing at hundreds of euro to be part of their own personal wardrobe for a few days. Here’s what she has to say about this initiative.

How did you first become interested in working in fashion and how has your journey as a fashion artisan evolved since then?

From a very young age I would go onto fashion retailer websites and add items to my cart to create outfits for imaginary events. I would always select the most extravagant handbags to complete the look.

Nichola Portelli

Over the years, I’ve watched thousands of styling videos and browsed all my favourite brands’ collections daily. However, I have also became more aware of the fashion industry’s environmental impact, in part due to unsustainable consumption patterns, including excessive consumption of fast fashion.

How was the concept of Rent Luxury born and can you describe what you sell?

I’ve always been determined to make my childhood pastime a reality: wearing something striking to every event, but at a marginal cost to myself and the environment. This gave birth to Rent Luxury, founded on the concept of circularity, whereby each item is re-used and re-loved by multiple individuals. Through Rent Luxury’s service, consumers are able to instantly refresh their wardrobe by simply renting the next item that catches their eye.

To put it simply, Rent Luxury is a luxury handbag rental service, whereby members can rent handbags for a minimum period of three days and enjoy them for as long as desired. Some of the brands that form part of Rent Luxury’s collections include YSL, Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

Where do you source your collections?

As part of Rent Luxury’s sustainability mission, pre-loved handbags are Rent Luxury’s first choice. These handbags are either purchased by Rent luxury or rented out directly by our Lenders through our peer-to-peer lending system. In cases where items are purchased directly from the store, these are maintained in pristine condition to ensure that they will last a lifetime.

How has the idea caught on in Malta?

Renting out handbags is a relatively new concept and has yet to become part of the Maltese population’s consumption patterns. However, similar business models overseas have grown exponentially, evidencing the trajectory of consumer behaviour. I would say that our typical client is the environmentally-conscious fashionista.

Follow Rent Luxury here. For other Pink magazine features check out this interview with poker queen Ivonne Montealegre or read about how to get your five a day with a twist.

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