Not long ago, I said that my feelings toward Thursday Friday’s line of bag-on-bag printed totes had “softened.” At that point, Balenciaga was the latest designer to have a photo of their work plastered on a canvas tote bag and sold for up to $90 apiece, and like Hermes and Chanel before it, Balenciaga is a huge brand with a huge corporate structure behind it to protect its work product. They can stand up for themselves, and although the Thursday Friday bags are certainly not my personal cup of tea, the combination of the chosen subject matter and the totes’ ubiquity had made me a little less opinionated about the whole thing.
Well. Guess what. This time, Thursday Friday has chosen to go after Proenza Schouler, a small New York brand that’s still in its relative infancy and that has yet to so much as open a brick-and-mortar store for itself. Compared to the Chanels of the world, Proenza Schouler is utterly tiny and a labor of love by the brand’s founders, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. The success of the PS1 and the brand’s other accessories allow it to do some of the most beautiful and innovative textile work in modern fashion; clothes like that don’t often turn a profit because of the enormous expense associated with producing such technically complicated work in small quantities, so for Proenza Schouler and brands like it, handbags are a crucial part of the business model. But hey, who cares about all that? Let’s take someone else’s hard work, slap it on a tote bag and make some cash!
Picking on the big guys is one thing. Taking something iconic and asininely expensive and re-appropriating it to poke fun at the fashion establishment is a longstanding tradition in the industry, and not something I generally have a problem with it. In fact, I love seeing a few well-placed stones lobbed at the old guard; it’s good for our health, as a collective. The problem, though, is that Proenza Schouler isn’t the fashion establishment or the old guard; it’s a spunky upstart that makes a bag that’s been popular for a few years. With that in mind, Thursday Friday splashing Proenza’s work on a bag to fatten their own bank accounts seems crass and opportunistic. Picking on the little guy isn’t clever, and it’s certainly not something I’d ever advise anyone to spend money on.
If you’d like to buy a real Proenza Schouler bag, you can do so via the brand’s website. If you’d like to buy one of the Thursday Friday bags, I suggest you start Googling, because I’m not going to be providing any links to their “work.” If you can even call it that.
(If there were a way for me to drop the mic and stomp off stage on the Internet, this is where I’d do it.)