Mulberry Bryn Bag

A couple of weeks ago, something curious happened. The Mulberry Bryn Bag debuted on the brand’s website, and simultaneously, a bunch of fashion sites dubbed it the next big thing! The second coming of the Mulberry Alexa! The greatest thing since the Celine Luggage Tote! All that seems a bit…effusive, doesn’t it? Particularly for a bag that hasn’t been carried by any big international tastemakers that I can think of, other that normal Mulberry acolytes Alexa Chung and Keira Knightley.

Summer is a bit of a slow news period in fashion, of course, and sending out a well-timed press release with lots of photos and a very clear narrative about a new product is indeed a good way fill some of that empty summer space on fashion sites with your company’s pieces. (To be clear, that’s what any brand’s PR department is paid to do.) Does calling a bag an It Bag make it an It Bag, though? Is it a prophecy that can be made self-fulfilling, or is it just optimistic? Let’s take a look at how our handbag sausage is made.

Let’s look at the evidence: Vogue UK, the Telegraph, Lucky, StyleCaster and FabSugar, to name only a few, all posted about the Mulberry Bryn on July 9 or 10, all using basically the same photos. (Fashionista also posted about the bag on the 10th, but they should be credited with using the occasion to start a more far-reaching conversation about It Bags.) To me, that’s not only solid evidence of a pretty adept press department at Mulberry (Which, again, the brand is not to be blamed for. They’re simply doing their jobs. It’s up to editors to make decisions about what they publish.), but also that a press release was sent out with a storyline ready-made for writers looking for something to fill the summer doldrums. The language with which all those posts and articles discuss the bag is remarkably similar.

Objectively, is the Mulberry Bryn an It Bag? No. It’s a perfectly nice bag, and one that will surely make the brand plenty of money, but it doesn’t have that indescribable quality that the Alexa had before it that makes people immediately consult their bank accounts upon seeing it for sale. People waited out the arrival of the Alexa for months after seeing photos of namesake Alexa Chung carrying it, but I had heard not a peep from anyone about the Bryn before the press onslaught began. Marketing is important, but as we talked about last week, it can only take a bag so far. Customers have to meet the brand halfway.

On the one hand, posting about a new product with information from the brand makes sense; after all, the manufacturer is the best source of accurate news of when a bag will be available, how much it will cost and where it can be purchased. On the other hand, I get a little uneasy when a third-party news source borrows its opinion of a new piece from the brand. If we’re not here to evaluate this stuff as objectively as possible based on our industry experience and then disseminate that educated opinion to our readers, then what exactly are we doing? Fashion PR people are paid to influence the media conversation; we’re paid to make sure that they don’t do it all that effectively.

Does it bother you when fashion sites parrot press releases this way, or are you just interested in getting the info, no matter how it comes?

The Bryn can be purchased for $1100 via Net-a-Porter.

  • susan

    I saw the bag and I did like it but it did not make my heart sing like the Alexa did/does. I would consider it a good bag to own but not an IT bag.

  • Silversun

    It bothers me a little if the press doesn’t look like they did their own thinking. If I’m being optimistic, I’d say ultimately it doesn’t matter because readers of said press should be smart enough to realise this, and also to know that an It Bag has to have some physical wow quality on top of word-of-mouth. (Which, honestly, I don’t feel in the Bryn.) But on a cynical day I’d qualify that statement that “should be smart enough” doesn’t always mean “are smart enough” to realise the press is being hand-fed by the brand, and I think the self-fulfilling prophecy thing could well happen if enough press throw enough weight behind the statement. If that turns out to be the case, then the Mulberry PR department deserves a raise. ;)

  • lala

    Looks like a bag that Coach did many years ago with the exception of it having 3 clasps.
    I’m not impressed. It’s not my IT BAG.

  • nicegirlsfakeit

    I don’t particularly care where the information comes from. They can copy the press release word for word if they want, as long as I’m getting the information. I, however, am no sheep and am not willing to go out and purchase a bag simply because someone claims it will be the new “It Bag”. Doesn’t the title “It Bag” come AFTER the bag has become a hit? Because people really like it, talk about it loads, and the stores can’t keep it on shelves. Are people really willing to go out and purchase boring bags just because someone proclaims it MAY be the next hit?

  • clint

    But it’s very similar to what you do with advertisers. I’ve noticed you and another bag blog often have very similar reviews often hours or days apart. Most of those bags are sold on sites that advertise heavily with you.
    So I’m not sure why the above bothers you so much.

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      Usually we (and others) write about bags that are new arrivals on sites that carry the types of bags our readers want to read about. It’s natural that those retailers would want to advertise on sites where the audience is interested in their goods or services. I’m not privy to advertising deals or who we’re working with; generally, I see the ads when everyone else does. There’s overlap simply because high end retail online is limited to a handful of sites.

      Also, on any given day, the ads that you’re seeing are likely to be at least partially (and sometimes totally) served by Google Adsense, which means they’re based on your own Internet activity and not deals that we’ve made with specific brands or retailers. We don’t know what you’re seeing (or what any of our readers are seeing) in those situations, so we certainly can’t base our editorial on it!

  • Eleanor

    Maybe it looks better in person, but I can’t tell the difference between this and anything you’d find in the Fossil store (not meant to be derogatory – I love Fossil, especially as it is more affordable than other brands).

  • Bryn

    Anything called Bryn has got to be good

  • lola

    u really write about this stuff??? who cares