It-bags.. there is definitely something magical about them. And when I’m talking about it-bags, I don’t mean hyped bags. I’m talking about designer bags that turned out to be so iconic, even people who have nothing to do with fashion are able to distinguish them. I’m talking about signature designer bags loved by young and old, that have become mascottes for the brand. Moreover, the women wearing them are being admired, thus achieving an it-status in relationship to their peers.
But how does a simple design evolve from being another new designer bag to the next wannahave for millions of women? And not for a year or two, but for the past decades (in some cases) and for many more to come? I’ve found myself being puzzled about the phenomenon for a while now..
My designer bag wishlist fltr:
Proenza Schouler PS1 (small) – Mulberry Alexa (medium) – Alexander Wang Rocco – Céline Boston
Chloé Paddington – Miu Miu Vitello (small) – Fendi Peekaboo – Hermès Birkin – Chanel 2.55
Is it because of the status of the brand behind the bag? Maybe so, but that doesn’t account for all of them. Take the Alexander Wang Rocco bag for instance. Designed by a relatively young designer whose name might not ring a bell with the older wealthy generation (45+), who remains faithful to mainly traditional Italian and French couture. And yet, the Rocco has found itself bingling on the arms of many fashionista & celebrities. The main question here is; does the brand make the bag or does the bag help enforce the brand?
Or is it because of the it-girls who are wearing the bag? Again, that might be true in some cases. It is a fact that it-girls come and go. Very few grow out to be true style icons of whom their style is still admired even today. Jane Birkin is a great example. Nowadays it seems it’s almost natural that a designer names a bag after one of the contemporary it-girls in order to have a bestseller. Think the Alexa bag, or the brand new Mulberry Del Rey bag, named after fashion la-laland’s latest sweetheart, Lana Del Rey. But does that strategy offer the same kind of impact in the long run? Do these ladies have such a strong impact on the industry that fifty years from now we’ll still remember them for their exquisite style? Or are they nothing but one-hit-wonders who will be forgotten, along with the bag that was named after them? I guess time can only tell, but I do think those brands are taking a huge risk in doing so.
When we consider other bags (not named after it-girls), there is still no certainty in whether or not the bag in particular is going to become one of the brand’s signatures. Celebrities are given free bags by the dozens, and yet only few bags become so iconic they’re every girl’s dream. Ashley Olsen might wear the Givenchy Nightingale one day and the sales go up by thousands, and the other day she might wear a similar type of Givenchy bag that is unlikely to have the same effect on sales. I guess sending free bags to bloggers is a risky game that applies by the same rules. You win some, you lose some..
So where do we draw the line? Why does one bag become so desirable you have to be put on a waiting list for months in order to get one and another bag by the same brand is completely forgotten about after two years after its release, even when they’re not all that different from one another? It’s something that has kept marketeers (of any brand) puzzled and I’m no exception.
I have no idea of how I got from showing a wishlist of some of my favorite designer bags to writing a post on it-bags. It seems the more I think about them, the more questions pop up into my head. But I think it’s a very fascinating phenomenon that should be looked further into. Hey, I might’ve just found myself some new thesis material 🙂 But anyway, do you have a designer bag wishlist, and more importantly; what do you think makes a designer bag an it-bag?
To conclude here’s a bit of bag trivia on what may or may not be the mother of all iconic bags, the Chanel 2.55 ( launched in 1955):
The design of the 2.55 was considered revolutionary thanks to the addition of the chain strap. Most evening bags of the time were clutches, making it difficult for society women to juggle their champagne flutes, canapés and personal belongings. The famous quilting was inspired by the padded coats worn by jockeys as designer Coco Chanel was a keen lover of horses. In 1983, when Karl Lagerfeld took over as creative director, he reissued the bag in its original design, but to mark its 50th anniversary, he gave it a facelift, changing, among other details, the traditional clasp into one that turns, encased in the iconic CCs.
Did You Know? The 2.55 contains a secret pocket inside the front flap where it is believed that designer Coco Chanel hid love letters received from an admirer.
Other iconic bags you might want to look into: Fendi Baguette, Hermès Kelly, Gucci Jackie, Prada Nylon Backpack, Louis Vuitton Speedy, Mulberry Bayswater, Dior Saddle, Chloé Aurore, Balenciaga Motorcyle, Alexander McQueen Skull clutch… You can check out the top 50 here.