For a long time, I wondered why Alexander Wang didn’t do men’s bags. Wang’s dark, industrial, ultra-cool aesthetic is patently unisex, and bags have always been a great success for the brand. Many of Wang’s larger women’s bags have been favorites of fashionable dudes for a long time, and when there’s a clear market, a smart company tries to fill it.
Man Bag Monday(Page 6)
As we often note, men’s bags tend to be more subdued, more neutral and more cleanly designed than women’s bags; the men’s market just isn’t into as much look as female luxury consumers are. That’s the traditional view, anyway. The menswear industry is in a period of rapid modernization at the moment, and suddenly a much wider variety of aesthetics and ideas are considered within the mainstream.
Today might be Tuesday, but because of the long weekend, we’re going to call it a spiritual Monday so that we don’t miss out on Man Bag Monday, our weekly look at all things dude-oriented in the world of luxury accessories. Because this is the first Monday of unofficial fall, it seems only right that we look at what might be the chicest backpack on the market right now – the Paul Smith Leather and Felt Backpack.
Making a man bag in the image of an incredibly popular women’s handbag just makes sense. Most men who are in the market for a bag that costs four figures also have at least a passing awareness of women’s fashion, and I’ve heard lots of fashion-interested male friends lament that they’d love to have larger, less purse-sized versions of handbags from the Givenchy Antigona to the Hermes Birkin.
After an unauthorized Annie Leibovitz-lensed image of 22-time Olympic medalist Michael Phelps in a bathtub next to a Louis Vuitton bag leaked last week, it was pretty obvious that he would be the star of the brand’s next Core Values ad. After featuring astronauts, musicians and actors in past Core Values ads, Vuitton moved on to athletes this year, first with an moving image of Muhammed Ali and his grandson.
I love having visitors from home come see me in New York City because it gives me an opportunity to try new things and go new places while playing tour guide. This past weekend my friend David came to town, and after seeing a particularly splendid grosgrain-trimmed blazer at Bergdorf Goodman, he requested we make a trip to the Thom Browne boutique in Tribeca.
You’d think that a black leather duffle bag couldn’t possibly be all that interesting, right? We’ve all seen them done in a thousand different ways by as many different brands, and at a certain point, they just all blur together. Imagine my pleasant surprise, then, when met one of the founders of American leather goods company Parabellum during New York Fashion Week in February and was genuinely impressed with the materials used, the level of workmanship, basically everything.
We tend to write mostly about expensive man bags for Man Bag Monday, which I suppose makes sense in the context of the rest of the things we tend to fawn over; the men’s luxury market is opening up in an exciting way right now, and it’s fun to explore that. For the average style-minded male consumer, though, I get the sense that four-figure bags aren’t the first stop for something stylish.
In the current luxury market, Louis Vuitton is nothing less than the man bag gold standard. No other large designer does as comprehensive and varied a men’s accessories collection as Vuitton, and the range of the goods – all the way from tiny decorate pins to large luggage pieces – is incomparable. Not only that, but Vuitton is masterful at changing the feel of its men’s accessories from season to season when most designers that are playing to that large an audience would focus on a more traditional male consumer.
Men’s bags don’t vary all that much, although they’re starting to vary a little bit more, so seeing something like the Balenciaga Creased Leather Pouch always makes me a bit confused. This bag was in the new arrivals at Mr. Porter alongside what can only be described as a Jil Sander Black Leather Lunch Bag which had completely sold out, so it’s undeniable that there’s a market for what is essentially a men’s clutch.