Luxury purses made of nylon have been the subject of much debate and speculation in the handbag world. While a case for nylon, and a powerful one at that, had been made by Miuccia Prada way back in 1984 when she introduced a range of Nylon bags and backpacks that remain a staple of the brand to this day (with the utilitarian backpack being considered one of the very first It-bags of the world), luxury-lovers haven’t quite stopped questioning the reason behind dropping serious cash on purses made of the fabric. When you think of it that way, however, most designer pieces are, in fact, massively overpriced, with a basic leather Hermès Birkin, arguably the Real Housewife of Overpriced Handbags, costing around $800 to manufacture.

So, why does simply switching out the leather aspect with nylon cause such uproar? I presume it’s the perception of nylon being associated with all things functional (read: unstylish). Prada’s backpack. But it can be argued that Prada’s re-invention of the fabric changed the popular perception massively. After all, who wouldn’t be swayed by the sight of Ashley Olsen sashaying with a Prada Nylon Backpack instead of her regular eye-watering crocodile number from The Row, or Kourtney Kardashian grabbing a micro version of the Prada by its chains like a cool kid?

Most importantly, though, Prada made it okay for other designers to experiment with the material, and thus rolled out the Gucci Bamboo Nylon Backpack (and more recently, the vibrant Off The Grid Collection), the Rihanna-endorsed Chanel Coco Cocoon Tote and nylon editions of the Dior Saddle, Fendi Baguette and basically every It-bag ever. In fact, even the house of Prada rolled out the Re-Nylon Re-Edition 2000 as a fashionable nod to the practical original, further bolstering nylon’s place in the luxury market.

I, however, was rather indifferent as all these developments were taking the fashion world by storm. In fact, for the most part of my bag-loving life, I have been an assiduous advocate of buying leather – my reason for disliking nylon simply being that I associate it with diaper bags – and an astute antagonist towards backpacks in general (if you despise them as well, I strongly suggest you read this), only resorting to my perfectly ancient Spiderman backpack when I need to carry more than my body weight in miscellaneous paraphernalia. So imagine my surprise when I came across a video of British Vogue Editor Sarah Harris showing us what’s inside her – you guessed it – Burberry backpack, and I actually ended up liking it!

Right before Burberry launched its rather ill-received TB monogram, more specifically, in Spring 2016, it launched the Technical Nylon Rucksack, called simply The Rucksack, in a campaign that in and of itself was pretty revolutionary. The Buy Now, Wear Now project allowed its customers to “shop the runway” during the actual fashion show, with The Rucksack as its highlight. Pair that with some strategic celebrity sightings like Margot Robbie, Cara Delevigne, Taylor Swift and Dakota Johnson with the backpack on their shoulders, and it quickly meant that the entire collection sold out in the blink of an eye. The craze surrounding it continued well into the TB era (Burberry even released The Rucksack in TB-print as well as in all-leather). Still, the original nylon version remains a classic, and it’s the one that has stolen my heart!

So what made The Rucksack more desirable to me, considering it’s made from the same genius as the OG Prada? Well, for one, it’s available in multiple sizes, some of which are actually functional. The large can hold your laptop, a change of clothes, trainers, and possibly multiple offsprings as well (and of course, that’s the one I’m craving), but the Medium can take you from day to night with as much gusto.

Of course, if you’re into the pint-sized trend, there’s a Small and a Mini, but I shall conveniently gloss over them for now. Then, there’s the actual structure and detailing on the backpack, which consists of a drawstring closure and two (usually contrast-colored) buckles, three exterior pockets that actually look like they’ll hold more than half your credit card, and finally, the chains on the straps. Yes, folks, this is a backpack that you’ll actually look good in when you’re wearing it correctly, so you don’t have to precariously dangle it on one shoulder in the hope that onlookers in the front can steal glimpses of your designer rucksack because the chains bring the much-needed bling without hurting your shoulders! Plus, the very first campaign (and all the starlets who followed) flaunted their rucksacks with their initials on them – an added source of excitement to the lovers of the design on the PurseForum. However, I’m unsure if the service is still available, given that The Rucksack seems to be largely absent from the brand’s latest campaigns.

PurseForum member Gravitsap’s enviable collection of Burberry Rucksacks

That being said, however, the answers to “do I love backpacks?” and “do you think luxury bags should be nylon?” are still mostly “no” for me. But, when it comes to the Burberry Technical Nylon Backpack, I’m ready to make an exception, especially in the version with the silver hardware, given how it looks like it could suit males as well (the actual male version doesn’t have chains, though). Now I shall actively be on the search for one on the resale market, hoping that someday, it becomes available within my budget, or that my budget expands to accommodate one, just like I’ve been coveting for the Sac de Jour since forever (read: just over a year). So, let the lusting begin!

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Starr
Starr
1 month ago

Another great article. Thanks for the insights and research.

I completely see the irony when people always say – I’m not paying $$ for a fabric bag or if I’m paying $$ I expect it to be leather. Leather isn’t that expensive these days and also, even a leather bag doesn’t justify the price tag attached to them. Buy the bags because we love them. Trying to justify a purchase based on the manufacturing cost in luxury is just silly because it is a completely different business model.

The same goes for ‘costume’ and ‘fine’ jewellery from the big brands. Even actual gold and precious stones do not cost as much as the exorbitant mark up the luxury houses charge for them. There’s always a time and place to enjoy costume and fine jewellery. Just like there is time to enjoy fabric and leather bags!

Overall it’s really great to see fashion and luxury engaging in all different types of materials. I am actually looking for a mens luxury weekender bag in nylon (light and durable).

Ed B
Ed B
1 month ago
Reply to  Starr

I agree with almost everything, but preferring leather isn’t necessarily a “because more expensive” thing imo when the comparison is with fabric. Fabric just wears/tears/strings come off etc much easier, it by default needs more care or loses longevity pretty quick. Some satin bags make me cringe looking at them because beautiful as they are, I feel they’d get snagged a few wears in…

Adele
Adele
1 month ago

I feel backpacks are really more for functional purposes. The nylon makes it more durable and if one is into luxury goods, then the ones you mentioned would be the natural choices. Chances are, the user would already have other high-end leather bags and this nylon backpack would be for a more specific, functional purpose.

There was a time when I had greatly agonized between the Prada studded backpack and Burberry Rucksack for…you guessed it – diapers! But in the end, I bought a leather backpack from Nordstrom that was actually made for moms (at a fraction of these prices). It had a ton more internal pockets than the luxury ones. Now that I don’t need to carry diapers any longer, I haven’t had the itch to buy one, but everytime I pass a Prada, I am still very attracted to their backpacks, especially the men’s ones. They are handsome and very high quality.

Kelly
Kelly
1 month ago

Omg, it honestly makes me happy to see this article! Only started appreciating the Rucksack in recent years. In 2019 I bought a large for work and was so in love that I got a medium a few months later. With the pandemic playing out in 2020, my medium was my go-to, easy to wipe down and functional. Now I’m on the hunt for a small, unfortunately since Burberry discontinued it, the only option is stalking the pre-loved market for one in the right colour and condition and at the right price. I feel like my obsession with this bag long after it’s “It” bag status has passed is testament to how good of a bag it really is. Wish Burberry would make this bag again but without the heavy gold chain on the strap.

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