shutterstock_157353827There’s a new business targeted at parents who want their kids to don designer duds.  Borrow Mini Couture offers designers from Crewcuts to Versace, Cavalli and Dior —  can I first say I had no idea these designers, other than J.Crew, even made clothes for children? — all for rent at a fraction of the price it would cost to buy them.  This entire concept just blows my mind, but mostly it reminds me I never take my kids to special events where I would even be trying to dress them all super fancy.

The idea for the company was born of the frustration founder Heidi Lieske experienced when forking over $300 to outfit her one-year-old for a wedding.  I can appreciate how annoying that might be if it was a family wedding and your child was in the wedding party, but I can’t say whether that’s entirely reasonable or not because I’ve never been in that position.  But really how often do occasions like this come up?  Is it enough to sustain a business?  Lieske sure hopes so — not only is her husband working for the company full-time, but her money’s riding on it.

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he’s plowed about $650,000 in savings, home-equity loan money and investments from family and friends into the company.  But Lieske, a Cockeysville resident who earned her Master of Business Administration from Harvard University in 2006, is optimistic about her company’s chances. She worked out some of the kinks by testing the waters with a beta site for just over a year before launching a revamped version in late October.

Lieski learned that free shipping in both directions as well as insurance for minor stains and tears — what the website refers to as “oops moments” — goes a long way to win customer appreciation.

There’s an adorable Ivory and Caramel Bobi Coat that retails for $418, the cost of borrowing would be just $99. Or a more casual Hugo Boss sweater and pants set for boys available for $67 — which would run you $232 to purchase.  I loved browsing the site for these pint-sized outfits in silk and cashmere, luxuries I can’t even afford for myself.  But even as I clicked through the site, I was always snapped back to reality.  Where would I put that on my child?

I’ve only been to a few weddings since my kids were born and most of the time I prefer to leave them at home.  We had one family wedding last year (ha!  No one to babysit when you’re whole family is there!) and I dressed them in really gorgeous Polo outfits that were less than the rental fee for any of these designer clothes.  I know not all parents feel this way, but the truth is I can’t stomach spending more than $20 for most of my kids outfits.  GAP is too expensive for me when I think about the way they will grow out of them in a month or two and most certainly get ketchup on the sleeves or some red juice all down the front.  I’m sure there are parents out there who will praise this alternative, but I just don’t have anywhere that fancy to go.

(photo: lev radin / Shutterstock.com)