Forget everything you knew about the “it-bag.” The recent trend in the luxury-goods market is knocking that concept on its head. Though the notion of “timeless” has always existed within the high-octane fashion houses of Chanel, Bottega Veneta and Hermes, recently more brands have jumped on the bandwagon as subtle shapes and textures have emerged on the shelves. Recently, Yves Saint Laurent changed its name to Saint Laurent and debuted its “Classic Duffel Bag.” How can something debut as a classic? Shouldn’t something become classic over time with the mass-approval of the luxury consumer? Similarly, Prada, a brand that has always produced wild and eccentric designs (i.e.: fairy collection, bejeweled collection, ruffles collection), has recently changed its entire lineup to focus on classic Saffiano Lux tote bags. And even at Chanel, after the “Le Boy” bag was first released it was instantly dubbed as Chanel’s “new classic.”
If we take a step back, it seems that the move from bejeweled and blingy seasonal bags toward the “forever piece” began as a result of the 2008 recession. Perhaps people became more careful about buying expensive designer goods, so when they did invest in a splurge-worthy bag, they wanted to make sure it was timeless. From a marketing perspective, “classic” has become the main way to reassure the consumer of the safety of spending thousands of dollars on a handbag. It further encouraged the notion of building a collection that would stand the test of time and more importantly hold its value. From an aesthetic perspective, “classic” has also changed the way a handbag came to be designed: simplicity as the new stamp of chic.
So, it seems that the term “it-bag” has been replaced by the term “classic.” While the two terms by definition are at complete polar opposites to each other, we wonder if there really is any difference between the two. Certainly there is. When the Fendi Spy Bag hit shelves, it was marketed as the newest arbiter of cool. Same with the Chloe Paddington, whose chunky lock could be seen from a mile away and served little functional purpose. The hype over these bags died down with time. Such bags were a mark of excess; it was about being able to get the newest trend season after season. A consumer had to keep up with the emergence of newer more desirable bags. In stark contrast, today’s Celine Luggage Tote or the Phillip Lim Pashli were deemed classics from the day of their launch, thus holding the promise of wear season after season. But in reality are they just "it bags" in disguise? Will they still be coveted years from now? We will be interested to see. Regardless of the answer, in our opinion it is important to be a discerning consumer. Look for the bags whose designs have already stood the test of time, instead of buying a newly-ordained “classic” that may very well turn out to lose its luster over time. In our opinion, it’s about investing in true classics that retain their desirability due to their refined design and immaculate craftsmanship.