When a reader pointed us in the direction of the Wall Street Journal‘s profile of Spanish accessories brand Loewe and its creative director Steven Vevers, it seemed like as good a time as any to discuss the relevancy of the so-called “anti” It Bags. Vevers, a veteran of brands like Louis Vuitton, Givenchy and most recently Mulberry, has decided to take Loewe in a very different direction than many of his past designs would indicate by introducing bags like the Loewe Papelle Bag, above.

Vevers was the creative mind who changed Mulberry’s image from a staid British leather goods company to the favorite of London It Girls that we know it as today. He did that by updating the brand to a youthful, playful look, but apparently he feels that the time is right for consumers to want something different by every measure. So…do you?

We’ve mentioned previously that some designers are starting to dial back the volume of their bags, most notably Chloé, who recently made a 180-degree turn away from the over-the-top detailing that made its bags fashion essentials during the mid-2000s. Despite the fact that many fashion critics have heralded those bags and the statement that comes with them, they don’t seem to be flying off shelves or dotting the arms of the style-conscious starlets whose choices can seriously impact sales.

And then there’s Loewe, a brand without much of a following outside of its native Spain. Vevers is trying to make a worldwide name for the company on this trend, and according to the WSJ, he’s betting that it’s more than a passing fad. Vevers has managed to get stars like Angelina Jolie and Jessica Alba to carry the Loewe Amazona bag, but at prices nearing two thousand dollars for a bag that’s mostly non-leather, it seems like a tough sell for those who aren’t receiving it for free.

At the very least, the grocery bag-aping Papelle Tote is all leather and retails for a bit less than the Amazona, around $1045. Unfortunately, what it’s not is original – Proenza Schouler also released a “paper” bag this season, and we wrote about Chanel’s leather shopping bag way back in March 2009. Still, those bags both have a lot of what Vevers seems to want to avoid: personality and style.

The Loewe Papelle Bag is perhaps an interesting art object and a statement about consumerism that surely a few people will want to make, but I’m not sure if enough bag lovers are willing to eschew personality entirely and carry an expensive bag painstaking fashioned to look like a nameless brown grocery sack. It seems like Loewe is willing to take that chance and stake the brand on this sort of minimalism. What say you, bag lovers: is this the kind of bag that you want?

Read more via WSJ.com. Picture via The Wall Street Journal.

  • JenG

    I agree Amanda it looks like a shopping bag. Even though our economy is bad I don’t see consumers purchasing this bag for $1045 that reminds them of a shopping bag. They would much prefer to just buy a $5 bag for grocery shopping.

  • Staci

    Amanda, I just don’t get it.. Who wants to buy a bag that resembles a paper bag? Let’s hope the “anti” It Bags movement ends before it starts!

  • Thumbelina Fashionista

    The P.S. 1 started as an Anti-It Bag, and now it’s all about the “IT”! But at least that bag has style–this one is just plain fugly.

  • Baglady

    I’m not spending that much money on a bag that looks like a giveaway from the cosmetic counter at the mall.

  • Lori

    I am strangely attracted to it’s simplicity. But not for that price.

  • spanish moss

    lori, i’m with you in that i like the simplicity. there’s a serenity about it that speaks to me. the price, however, sends me screaming into the night!

  • RGM

    The Papelle bag collection is not the main design of Loewe – it’s just a very small part of the brand’s offerings. It’s like a tongue-in-cheek design, like Vuitton’s garbage bag. The bags might be expensive, but when you see how well they’re made, you’ll understand why they’re so expensive. They are just exquisite. Just take a look at the Nappa Amazona, and you’ll see how beautiful some of Loewe’s bags are.

    I think other people agree – the brand’s very big (like Prada big) in the whole of Asia and Europe, but yes, they really don’t have a presence in the US.

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

      According to the WSJ article, they’re not Prada big anywhere but Spain (Spanish sales comprise 1/3 of their overall gross, the other 2/3 coming in Asia, which only translates to about $87 million in gross sales outside of Spain) and their overall revenues are very low for a company owned by LVMH. The perception might be different for someone who’s already a fan of the brand, but that seems to be what the numbers bear out.

      You’re right that this isn’t a main offering from the company, but it represents the kind of stark simplicity that the creative director thinks is the right way to go to build Loewe’s following – the Amazona bag is incredibly simple as well, although not modeled after a grocery bag. With their LVMH financial backing, the brand has what it takes to be a bigger player in the global handbag market, but I question whether or not this is the way to do it.

      Although it got them an article in the WSJ and a big post here, so it might not be a bad tactic after all.

  • whit

    i’d much rather spend that one k on a cute big tote from orla kiely or marc by marc jacobs and spend the rest filling it with yummy groceries!

    or use one of my many oversized bags as grocery/shopping bags instead.

    wait

    i do do that! :D

  • reneeo

    I have numerous Loewe bags from over the years. I was just in Spain and bought another. Their quality and workmanship is unbelievable. Once you own one, you will want more. They are very classic and not showy which is why I like them. The Amazona is completely lined in soft beautiful leather (for only you to enjoy!) However, they do come out with some fun glam bags too. The only store in the U.S. is in Hawaii (where I live) so that is another reason they are not widespread. I don’t know if any department stores carry them ??? (Where else can you buy them besides online?) I think the paper bag is nice if I had that kind of money to throw around (but I don’t). I think we are going to start seeing more people using these bags.

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

      According to their website, Bergdorfs and a few speciality shops in the US carry them. I’ve seen them at Jeffrey in Atlanta in the past, but haven’t noticed any recently. They may have stopped ordering them, although Jeffrey in New York is still listed as carrying them on their website.

  • mochababe73

    I’d rather purchase the new Marc Jacobs Paradise Rio bag.
    I cannot be seen wearing a handbag that looks like it came from my neighborhood grocery store. Besides, I don’t even think that you can get it over the shoulder.

  • 19yearslater

    I think that the statement it’s trying to make about consumerism is hypocritical with such a high price.

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

      That makes two of us. The relevancy of bags like this is completely lost on me if the designers, who seem to think they’re very clever, keep charging four-figure prices. The Proenza version is the only one I’d consider buying, and also the only one that doesn’t seem to want to make a philosophical statement. Also: it’s the cheapest.

      An It Bag is still an It Bag, even in a grocery bag’s clothing.

    • Linda

      Perfectly stated!

  • frannita

    I find the Amazona beautiful but man, it’s so pricey. I’ll have to wait until I go to Spain (not in the near future either) to get it, it will be cheaper with the tax back!

  • mary s

    i really like the bag, but not at those prices, i thought it was more in the $100-200 range so imagine my shock.

  • WANIE

    Bags are boring, should cost no more than $100 if that!!!!! I can’t stand a boring handbag!!!

  • mynewbag

    I too own a Loewe Bag, a lipstick red Nappe Aire that is buttery soft, a treasure in my collection.
    purchased in Madrid 6 years ago, a style that is still in their lineup. That is what is great about them, they keep making the same bags over and over. I would love to own a few more, there have been some great bags{ I do follow their yearly bags] but they are pricey, without the value of Hermes or Chanel,so it is hard for me to spend money on a brand not very well know for so much money.

    A girl can own only so many bags after all.
    Right………….

  • Michel

    You seem to forget that Proenza Schouler totally ripped off the concept of that paper bag from
    http://www.highsnobiety.com/news/2007/12/28/porter-grocery-tote/
    Loewe wispers it doesnt shout, it isnt for fashion victims.

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

      I didn’t forget, I simply said that others have done it before and gave two high-profile examples. I can’t list ‘em all.

      • Michel

        Ok, but if your going to so self righteous about Loewe copying Chanel or PS, maybe you should mention in a post how PS ripped off Porter, blatantly.

  • louch

    Looks like a boring paper bag I remember from my childhood when shopping. Overpriced. Probably being tongue-in-cheek but doesn’t work for me.

  • adrienne

    OMG!! $1045?????????????????????????????????ARE YOU KIDDING??????

  • Nee

    this is totally ugly and uninspiring. and the price makes it ridiculous. i’ve always heard good things about this brand… but yyyyaaaawwwwnnnn. moving on!

  • merve

    Well i guess its got people talking about the brand so that was the aim. I think as a brand you have to have a decent following before you come up with a gimmick bag because thats what this is. Then people will throw money at designs that are not that well thought out (like the Chanel takeaway). To try and relaunch a brand by this sort of gimmick is actually uninspiring. I would have reconsidered Loewe if they had suddenly come up with a great design for a bag and did a good pr job and got their name out again. Like Mulberry.

    • DAVE

      Loewe is a brand with more than 130 years in Spain and in the world. There are severals boutique in Japan and one big boutique in Paris in Avenue Montaigne since 70´s.

  • lucy

    I love this bag. I love how understated it is; I view it as a simply designed, functional (there’s a reason shopping bags have been designed the same way forever!) tote that I know without seeing it is of the highest quality leather. But then, I hate bling and bags that scream “who” they are (read, Bottega with no visible labels or logos). And I am a fool for Loewe; its my Holy Grail. Ever since meeting the brand in Bergdorf in Feb. I have coveted one. Relative to Chanel, LV, and Bottega, its not so pricey. I wish PB would cover the brand more and that they were more accessible in the U.S. but the obscurity is part of their allure.

  • aovaswardrobe

    Loewe is actually HUGGEEEEE in Japan funnily enough. Japanese people actually really like their monogram (the 4 L’s). The funny thing is, all their bags were known to be made in spain and famous for their craftmanship, that’s why they used to sell well.

    They started a canvas collection recently (like gucci, lv and all these rest who wants to make huge margins off their brand) and it failed miserably because they were made in China. It really does impact the brand image.

    Have you seen their new campaign though? I really like it, they have victoria’s secret models in clothes (god forbid!). But no serious, they look gorgeous in the campaign…

    As for the Papelle. I’ve seen them in real life, very well made but as everyone points out, super pricey for a grocery bag :( Just a gimmick i guess. just like anya hindmarch’ ”i’m not a plastic bag’ a few years ago…

    http://aovaswardrobe.blogspot.com

  • Martin

    Love this bag, love the price. Pratical to carry just about anything, luxurious material and workmanship, discreet, understated, exclusive by way of price. I will buy one. Only thing I don’t like is the small logo on front should be removed and the color should be darker… mocha maybe, to better resemble a grocery bag color.

    This bag says, I have money, I like practical functionality, I like simplicity. A good way to live.

  • eighty jane

    I LOVE Loewe bags, but I do think these are still a bit over prices. I mean, I would literally use them to tote small groceries or random sundries. While practical and well-made (I assume) they aren’t versatile enough to be over $1000. I’d buy on sale, though :)

  • MizzJ

    While it seems the quality is impeccable judging by previous commenters, the design isn’t something that I expect for the amount of money I’m expected to shell out for this. If I want a bag that looks like a shopping bag, then I’ll really authentic and fashion my own out of actual paper and string!

    http://highmaintenancewoman.blogspot.com

  • Mona

    this “paper bag design” has been done by German brand BREE before…

  • Mel

    I would not buy it for the price. Otherwise it is cute. Maybe for $300 I would buy it. Not in the store though too many other cute bags this season.

  • Eph

    I’ve seen a girl from Loewe carring one, and it’s much better in reality especially for the quality leather which were naturally worn off.. That clean and stiff posture in the photo doesn’t do right for this bag!

  • Bagolicious

    Nope. I’m not “buying” it!

  • Ana

    one can equally argue that hermes is overpriced. my husband looked at a birkin and shook his head and said ‘i don’t understand’. and we gals laughed at him. i love love hermes. and i have loved loewe for years. LOEWE is known for their EXCEPTIONAL LEATHER, buttery soft, like no other, uncompromising, throughout the years. it really reminds me of hermes, and the fact that they have provided for the spanish royal family for years is no surprise to me.

    it is interesting to note that at least one commentator here admitted that the price tag one is willing to pay for depends largely on the “recognizability” of the *brand*, not the quality of the product….

    sure, the concept is not new, at all. but neither was LV’s alma bag (rip off from hermes’ bolide? the first zippered bag?), marc jacobs stam bag (quilt? chain? chanel anyone?), i am sure there are others out there who name more of these.

    the truth is, throughout fashion history, there are only very few moments of true genius which changed the way the world wear, carry, design and see things. the rest are usually clever bits of modifications, inspirations and marketing.

    if one knows LOEWE, that is, the leather, i wonder if one might see this “hypocrisy” in a slightly different light (the way one found delight in marc jacob’s very creative take on the quilt and chain of a classic chanel bag) – that the quality of a bag is found in the finer and more modest things: the feel and smell of leather, the shades of their natural tans, the elegance of its stitching, the the beauty of its simple lines…

    i have seen comparable price for comparable not-so-original-style, but by “brands” that are more recognizable in the US, and i can assure you that the commentaries read very differently….

  • sees

    I adore LOEWE, somehow you don’t see many carrying LOEWE is this country. I just don’t get it why? Their bags are such great pieces of craftsmanship. Among all LVMH brands, i just adore LOEWE the most.

  • Catdance

    I bought a Pierotucci leather carrybag in a similar style – all leather and made in Italy by Italians, which is not as easy to come by as you’d imagine in Italy these days! I agree that some of the less known brands continue to offer quality and better prices – without the bling-y name tag, but conisistently fabulous quality leather. I like the idea that this is a local product, too as I live here.

  • shawn

    I have seen the kimkimartifacts PAPR bag back in 2006. Probably too small of a company to gain the recognition of loewe, but superior quality and craftsmanship. Brand name seems to overtake quality craft and original ideas.

  • Tracey G

    pass for me (ipad)

  • Tracey G

    way too plain for the price (ipad)

  • Tracey G

    im sure the leather is great but pass for me (ipad)

  • Tracey G

    too plain but the leather looks so soft! (ipad)

  • Tracey G

    i like the unique handles (ipad)

  • bag buyer

    I’ve been wanting to buy a Loewe bag for 20 years – but its always the same BORING bag. They can’t seem to understand that selling the same bag for years does NOT make it a classic.

    Then what do they do? Give us a brown paper bag. UGH. No way I’d spend even $100 on it.

    Maybe one day they will design a cool bag.

  • iceberg

    I bought a Lowe handbag few years ago and hardly used it. It looks as if is brand new. The workmanship was marvellous but unfortunately, Loewe used CHEAP GLUE because the edge of the bag started surfacing black stains. It is obvious that it has quality issue so I returned to Loewe shop for repair. The bag was sent back to Spain for inspection and after 5 months, they have no explainations why this happened and didnt admit or apologise that the bag has quality issue. The bag was returned to me and it’s a company that doesnt believe in after service. The sales assistant can have the cheek to pass me a card and asked me to bring to Colour wash to try my luck to see whether the issue can be solved. TOTAL DISAPPOINTMENT! I vow Loewe brand is out of my list FOREVER and tell myself not to waste time on this matter anymore.

  • California

    I bought the smallest Loewe Papelle tote a year ago for over $1000. They shipped it to me from Spain ( I live in California). Now Loewe website don’t carry this bag anymore. The bag is well made but I am not sure if it is worth the money. Bree has a similar bag and costs 1/4. Is Papelle still available or is it in the handbag graveyard?