According to UK retailer Debenhams, the weight of the average woman’s handbag, including its contents, has fallen from 7.69 pounds in 2007 to 3.31 pounds in 2009. I don’t know about anyone else, but my shoulders and back are certainly thankful for the dramatic change.
Everyone knows that no trend lasts forever, so when tiny actresses were seen with handbags bigger than some New York studio apartments in the middle of the last decade, we all knew that it was a matter of time until the Olsen look was so five minutes ago. Well, if handbag weight is any indication, that time is now. But are there possible explanations other than just the normal ebb and flow of fashion trends?
UK rag Daily Mail thinks that there might be. They want to tie all of this into our gadgets – iPhones weigh less than the combination of an old school iPod and that Motorola flip phone that you had back in 2007, so I suppose that you might save a few ounces there, but I’m just not buying it as an overall explanation. It’s not like we were all carrying enormous Zack Morris phones back in ’07, it was only two years ago.
And not only are traditional phones still more popular than smartphones, despite the fact that it seems like everyone you know has a Blackberry or iPhone, but the rest of the stuff that a woman usually carries is pretty static. As far as I know, no one has figured out a digital makeup app yet. Apple, get on that. The article also mentions laptops, but I don’t know many women that carry a computer in their everyday bag. And even if they did, I would imagine that any decrease in average laptop size between 2007 and 2009 would be offset by the likely increased number of women that now carry these ever lighter, slimmer devices that didn’t carry them at all two years ago.
So, as they say on one of my favorite shows, myth: busted. I’m not buying the explanation that the Daily Mail is selling. There’s an important one that they may have overlooked, however, and that’s the weight of the materials used. Maybe, just maybe, the manufacturers are listening to the practical complaints of their customers. That’s not common in fashion, but it might have happened with our handbags.
Yesterday, I walked into Neiman Marcus in Atlanta, picked up a Chloe hobo and for the first time, didn’t feel myself begin to tip over under the sheer weight of the empty bag. The size itself was still big – maybe even “oversized” would be the correct word – but it wasn’t heavy. It wasn’t even close. And when we live in a world where we can’t count on CHLOE, of all brands, to put out bags that are all so heavy that they make my arms fall asleep, what can we count on?
Handbag weight is one of the most common complaints that I hear from bag lovers, even to the point where some designers have changed their materials in very obvious ways. For instance, the first few iterations of the famous Marc Jacobs Stam were lined in suede. People complained, and every season since then has had a cotton or linen lining. When I pick up a Stam in a store now, it’s noticeably lighter than the early version that I bought back in 2006.
Those things considered, it’s likely that a combination of size trends, material changes and maybe a few technological advances have lead to such a precipitous drop in bag weight. Whatever it is, it’s better for bag lovers, any way you slice it.