Sometimes it takes a trend a couple tries to get off the ground. Several years ago, velvet was all over fall runways, but it seemed like buyers for retail stores weren’t, well, buying it–the velvet pieces went largely unproduced and, in turn, shoppers focused on other things.
Detecting nascent trends is more art that science. Some bags are everywhere all of a sudden for reasons that don’t have much to do with celebrities or “influencers” (my apologies) objectively liking them, and figuring out whether a bag’s sudden surge in visibility is planned or organic requires a feel for the market.
Although bag shapes aren’t something that’s thought about as traditionally seasonal, the vagaries of weather do have an impact on which kinds of bags are convenient at certain times of year. During the winter, for example, saddle bags make all the sense in the world.
When you look at the overarching trends in the accessories world, it makes perfect sense that heavily embellished bags are having a moment right now. The market is crowded and consumers don’t want to carry the exact same bag as all their friends and every celebrity in the known universe; in order to stand out, things like personalization services are on the rise, and seasonal variation is increasing as well.
The luxury accessories market is always expanding, and in an environment where competition for customers is fierce, choices abound and shoppers only really want to carry certain things, it can get a little tricky to stand out from the crowd.
We hear the same complaint from you guys a lot: “Ugh, this bag is just trying to be a Birkin.” Sometimes it feels like a fair assessment and other times it feels like the evidence is a little thin, but either way, you guys have picked up on something important–brands really are turning out a lot of (at least vaguely) Birkinesque bags lately.
The handbag market popularity hierarchy is more complex than average fashion fans might assume. At the top, you have the It Bags, which usually reign for several years and attract the most attention. Right below them, there’s another tier of bags that are intensely coveted and wildly successful but not quite “it.” Often, this is the tier It Bags retire to when the waitlists wane, but it’s also where you’ll find many bags that have made it their home–the Saint Laurent Sac de Jours and Givenchy Nightingales of the world.
Many of you have bemoaned the rise of micro bags since they emerged several seasons ago, and for you, we finally have some good news: the pendulum is starting to swing back toward big bags. During the Fall 2016 shows (and especially in the ultra-influential Paris collections), runway bags kept getting bigger and bigger; usually designers choose petite versions of their accessories for the runway so they don’t overwhelm or obscure the clothes, so the size shift is important.
When veritable trend-machine Fendi announced it would be rolling out a la carte embellished shoulder straps with prices exceeding $1,000, the writing was already on the wall; Valentino joined in with its own straps a few months later, and then it was off to the races.