According to Christina Passariello in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal (an excellent source for current fashion trends, by the way), Prada is returning to their roots established twenty years ago when they launched a line of black nylon backpacks. Apparently following other handbag designers, Prada made the decision several years ago to design pocketbooks in bold colors and shapes. Business boomed and the brand doubled its sales in just two years.
But, in time, problems developed, each brand trying to outdo the other. Individual identities blurred and the consumer strayed to other brands. "The biggest problem in fashion (today) is how to stay true to your brand's identity while offering newness," Prada Chief Executive Bertelli said in a recent interview.
Luxury brands, the article went on, are grappling with a mass-market problem, as well. The major brands...Brahmin, Vuitton, Gucci, Hermes, Dior, Chanel et al, sell millions of handbags. But, according to Passariello, they are all facing "fashionista fatique". In addition...Spoiler Alert!...logos are no longer trendy.
This brings me to the obvious question: Just how many handbags does a women need in her closet. Shoes, by comparison, receive heavy use, so they need to be replaced often. But...handbags? How many is enough?
However, temptation being my middle name, here are a few of the latest offerings:
Louis Vuitton. These pocket books are designed to compliment the dresses and separates offered this season by Vuitton, who has wandered into fashion. This is just another example of every company wanting to be all things to all people. The question: Isn't this part of the problem with identity confusion by the consumer? If everyone is doing everything, why stay loyal to anyone?
Bulgari. One of the greatest names in fine jewelry, Bulgari has recently stepped into the fashion game, as well. This handbag is well designed, but hasn't this style been done by everyone, forever? Unless the hide is of an animal from another planet, why repeat what's already out there? And how does this enhance, rather than dilute, the Bulgari brand? Is selling million dollar necklaces to the world's billionaires not enough?
Salvatore Ferragamo. A nice pastel color in time for Spring...but ho hum.
Dior. Still true to a Classic...the Kelly Bag, with variation. But, I think the addition of all that metal cheapens a great, timeless design.
Gucci. Another pastel number. Based on the handbags I've noticed on the runways at Fashion Week, and advertised in the upscale magazines, checks seem to be the hot pattern this year.
Givenchy. Stripes ran a close second. And it's a race to the finish line!
I just looked in my closet and counted my handbags. Five I consider 'winter' handbags but I actually use only two on a regular basis. One is a saddle brown leather Perry Ellis that I've had for over fifteen years. The other is my 'everyday' bag...a black and leather Dooney & Burke satchel that sits beside my desk and has every important thing I need for daily life. This is the item I'd grab in case of fire! The other three purses are simply taking up vital space on a closet shelf but are 'too nice' to donate. And who knows? I might need them someday. ;)
On the top closet shelf sit my 'spring/summer' handbags, although two are actually totes that I use to throw stuff into that won't fit into the one I use every day for two seasons a year, which is a tan leather and straw combo I found in a little boutique in Vero Beach years ago. Two of the summer purses are vintage Liz Claiborne, one in yellow and the other in a light blue. They don't get much use since I don't have things in either yellow or blue that they'd compliment...although they both were selling at a really good price!
Aside from the Dooney & Burke satchel bought two years ago, and the number I found in Vero Beach, I can't remember the last time I bought a new pocketbook. It's not that I'm cheap and won't spend the money. It's just that there are so many options, so many colors, so many copy cats. And so many are just badly designed, I'm simply not tempted. (And why do so many of them have more hardware on them than a biker's jacket?)
Call me nosy, dear reader, but I wonder: How many handbags do you currently have in your closet? How many do you actually use on a regular basis? Do you change seasonally? On average, how many new handbags have you bought in the past three years?
A coming post: Is it a handbag or is it luggage? And do we need a porter to help carry it?