If you’ve ever bought a Celine bag (and a lot of you have), you know it can be a complicated and, at times, frustrating process. When the Celine Luggage Tote first gained popularity several years ago, the brand forbade retailers from selling its wares online, which drove bag lovers to call and visit any number of department stores and boutiques in search of the right bag in the right color. Celine bags are now easy to come by in stores, though, so why can’t the brand just make us happy and sell them online?
A couple of years ago, for a company trying to build caché and buzz with a new designer and a nascent It Bag on its hands, Celine’s online sales ban made a certain amount of sense. A big part of fueling consumer desire in the luxury sector is creating the impression that your product is rare and valued highly by those who seek it, and if a bag is available at every online retailer known to man in a variety of colors, it’s hard to make the case for rarity. Making something hard to get only makes those who are interested yearn for it more, and making its bags (and everything else) scarce worked wonders for both Celine’s buzzworthiness and its bottom line. Now that the Luggage Tote has reached critical mass and Celine has solidified its spot within the industry, though, it might be time to change courses in order to reach even more customers. The bags are no longer impossible to come by.
The only other two major bag brands that I can think of that flatly refuse to sell their wares online are Chanel and Goyard; Chanel reps have talked openly about why they’ll only sell beauty and fragrance to those of us who enjoy online shopping (they don’t think that online sales provide the “Chanel experience,” although the company is looking to start offering ready-to-wear via its website in the next few years), and Goyard’s products are so often personalized that an in-person experience makes sense. Beyond that, all the major brands offer their bags online in some capacity.
Even Hermes, the king of handbag exclusivity and enormous waiting lists, sells a pretty wide variety of its products online, including plenty of handbags. (Although, notably, not its Birkins or Kellys.) Demand for Hermes products has only increased across the board, which is proof positive that when done correctly, online sales don’t necessarily harm a brand’s image or decrease the devotion of its clientele. After all, what’s more luxurious than ordering a product and having someone else fetch it and bring it to you in your own home? Anyone who lives in New York and has tried Net-a-Porter’s same-day metro delivery knows that it beats pretty much any other shopping experience there is.
We got excited recently when we saw a major retailer’s website start showing up in Google searches for Celine products, but as it turns out, there are currently no plans to actually retail the brand online. You can imagine our disappointment. So if not now, when? Celine is staying mum on the subject, but with the Luggage Tote and Trapeze Satchel readily available on retail shelves everywhere, we think it’s time that the brand loosened its reigns on online shoppers.