The fashion accessory is a huge growth area, with handbags the prime
purchase. It is forecast that in just 3 years, by 2010 handbag
spending will be worth a billion dollars. Accessory
designers are now as driven as fashion designers to produce lots
of new styles that hit the seasonal mark.
Bag inflation means the consumer now has to spend
around £800+ for a decent luxury handbag, compared to £500 just
a couple of years ago. The value of any selection is also made worthless
by the fickle nature of fashion. This development means a
designer handbag may last just
a season, if poorly selected, a bag can become outré in the
space of a few months.
Picture Right - this lovely navy blue perforated leather butterfly designer
handbag, is by Alexander McQueen. It is a reworking of the
Novak signature bag by McQueen. A good designer can play with a
signature style and make it new each season. This bag is
available from Browns Fashion of South Molton Street, London, UK
or their online site at £1,015. It is pretty, and special in its
own right, which is always a good reason to make any selection.
Image courtesy of Browns.
Bag inflation is working at every level, from low to high cost
bags. The everyday customer, who a
couple of years ago spent £49 on a chain store leather bag,
thinking they were buying the most expensive bag on the shop
floor, may now be buying one at £89. They now consider that spending £89 on a chain store leather
bag, is quite reasonable, and they tout it as great value for a
The behaviour of handbag fashion is very odd when you consider how inexpensive other
fashion items have become.
The key question is, 'What's driving the accessory market?'
Well you dear reader, the avid consumer, is the person helping to drive the
bag market. It is your penchant for must-have 'it' bags and
a desire to own what a celebrity owns. Thus prices have
crept up as the average shopper wants more cachet from their
Whether the bag spend is £90 or £900,
the customer sees the bag as a passing fashion, in just the same
way as she once regarded last years clothing. The modern
consumer sees the bag as the part of her wardrobe that can
be added to, used, set aside, but also revived at some future
The high street puts out its own versions of luxury handbags quickly. Above right the perforated leather Novak bag by designer Alexander McQueen and left Wallis
Spring/Summer 2007 white leather and straw bag £23/€37, is a thriftier take
on the Novak crochet versions. See the
first Novak style produced here.
Celebrity endorsement is what is driving the bag phenomenon. High visibility, with celebrity endorsement, is a welcome advert
for the bag producer. Celebrities often get such bags as
gifts. Celebrities can soon give the 'it' requirement to specific handbags.
But the newest 'it' bag is the customized bag, the made to order
bag that no-one else has. The only way to secure it is to part
with thousands, either dollars or pounds - it doesn't matter
which, when you talk 10,000+. Such customized bags have a
price tag of £10,000/£12,000. It's all about luxe, luxe and
The luxury handbag is the
ultimate fashion statement, it is a major status symbol of today. It's a known fact that the average weight of a handbag in Britain is 31/2 lbs. Most women cram personal items into
their bags in an effort to be prepared, 'just in case I need it'.
But what makes this particular gold bag below so special, is that
the Zagliani materials are treated with resin employed silicone injection techniques.
Zagliani make beautiful crocodile bags, which are as soft as silk.
In this case Italian dermatologist Mauro Orietti-Carella has
pioneered a technique to enable skins, such as python and
crocodile, to be transformed into smooth shiny soft supple
The crocodile skin in the
handbag left has been silicone treated and once
softened it is hand crafted into a four figure bag. The
process is similar to the use of Botox injections to keep human
This Zagliani handbag right costs £1,280 at Harvey Nichols. Zagliani bags are available in the UK from
Harvey Nichols and also from Matches.
If my husband is reading this
- darling I'd be thrilled to own 'it'!
work of art.
As ordinary consumers flash their designer handbags, very wealthy
rich consumers feel a need to show their distance, and they want even
more distinction from their luxury handbag. Designer bags
have become classless, and their purchase is not always dependant on income. This means bag prices are rising and the new market for top end bags is around £3,000.
But that top end is very elastic and finishes around the
private collection, 'Wait List' bags, that cost £70,000. Such bags in
the latter price range are usually finished with diamond pavé studs.
But £2,000 for a bag spend is no longer a rare occurrence.
The picture to the left is of the latest John Galliano designed 'Jeanne' handbag, made for Dior and available at
Harrods. The chain mail detailing, takes inspiration from Joan of Arc,
and the handbag is available in dark grey calfskin, sand ostrich, mint green
stingray and grey crocodile (£10,160).
This is a fabulous
bag with an unusual futuristic, but medieval armour feel.
I know I would love a Dior bag like the 'Jeanne' above. I love
the proportions and the detail of the Jeanne bag. However, you may have
noticed that it is the price of small car, and is pure
arm candy. 'Jeanne' is also available at a lesser price
(a mere couple of thousand), in nu buck and goats skin. The image is courtesy of Harrods,
who are now selling a limited, but growing range of goods
Ferragamo are just one of the top design names that do these
top line, made-to-order handbags.
Clients select from 4
silhouette designs, in a wide range of 50 colours, and just as
wide a variety of exotic skins. Authenticity is very
important for all luxury companies, especially when a company has
a unique and covetable product. Other companies, who are
known to do custom order bags include, Marc Jacobs, Louis
Vuitton, Dior and Bottega Veneta.
Fashion proof classic bags
also include those by Hermès.
Lagerfeld at Chanel, tunes in fast to consumer problems; when airport security checks meant
travellers were limited in what they could carry, Lagerfeld spotted a gap in the market. As a result, Chanel introduced the Naked Bag, a see through clear bag, with quilt over pattern -
perfect for air travel and speedy security checks.
Furla have their own answer to this flight problem with their
own clear see through boarding bag shown right.
also have a great niché range of designer bags and by order only
bags. They presented
a new line with their Animalier range in December 2006.
This new line of accessories features the characteristic leopard print, which has been such a constant in the history of the brand, that it has become its true signature. Domenico Dolce and Stefano
Gabbana, feel that animal prints are essential for the
existence of divas and divine women.
Dolce&Gabbana revisited and revamped this great classic bag,
developing its own exclusive fabric silk-screened in four
colours, and that thanks to a special technique creates an
illusion of real leopard skin with irregular spots. This special
animal print is further enhanced by a discreet lettering of
Dolce&Gabbana, and the leather goods all have a stirrup, which
is another recurrent symbol in the accessories’ history of the
This extensive Dolce&Gabbana collection, comprises 21 luxury handbags in
different shapes and sizes, small leather goods, vanity cases,
double face belts, hats, flats and Alice bands. It is distinguished
by the combination of leopard print fabric and white or tobacco
Animalier has been available at Dolce & Gabbana stores
since December 2006.
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