Today, the concept of an It-Bag is a highly followed phenomenon which can’t seem to go a few weeks without making fashion headlines. But the idea of a bag being an It-Bag is actually a fairly new concept. Sought-after bags of the moment have long been in existence all throughout the 20th century. But the idea of the It-Bag as we know it today emerged in the ‘90s.
It-Bags, as the name suggests, are the most sought-after and iconic bags of their time. Some of the most popular It-Bags throughout the years, including the likes of the Lady Dior, Hermès Birkin and the Fendi Baguette, are routinely discussed. However, there’s not as much talk about the most shocking It-Bags to ever appear on the fashion scene. It is these most improbable of designs which perhaps reveal more about the anatomy of the famed It-Bag and crucially what makes a bag ‘It’. Unexpected, unique and trend setting, these are the It-Bags which caught the fashion world off guard.
Luxury fashion houses have long been famed for their use of the most rare and luxurious materials. But one house shocked the fashion world by switching up the status quo in the ‘80s. Prada released its Nylon Backpack in 1984, leaving the fashion crowd aghast. It was snubbed as “anti-luxury” and was met with confusion. Why was a luxury fashion house as renowned as Prada eager to use nylon, a material which was originally created as a silk replacement and used for military equipment (not exactly high fashion)? But in the ‘90s, the Prada Nylon Backpack soared to the coveted status of It-Bag, shocking fashion critics. The utilitarian design and innovative use of nylon proved a wild success and helped imbue the fashion house with new life. Today, nylon is a Prada staple and it’s all thanks to this unlikely It-Bag.
We all remember the launch of Bottega Veneta’s Pouch for Spring/Summer 2019. The fashion media could not stop ogling at this squishy pillow-like clutch which had A-listers and influencers alike enthralled. Daniel Lee had only recently taken the helm of the dwindling Bottega Veneta when the soon-to-be It-Bag, sorry pouch, burst onto the fashion scene. Residents of all four fashion capitals and beyond began to cradle the hunk of material under their arms. The Bottega Veneta Pouch proved very collectable (many lucky fans obtained one in every color of the rainbow). But crucially, the Pouch was different and completely unexpected.
Many It-Bags are beloved for their functionality. This is certainly not the case for the Jacquemus Le Petit Chiquito. New designer Simon Porte Jacquemus hit the jackpot with his sleek Le Chiquito top handle design. He then released an atomic size of the popular bag in his Fall/Winter 2019 collection and it became an It-Bag in and of itself. Like so many of today’s new must-have bags, the teeny style exploded on social media and, naturally, hilarious memes making fun of the bag’s tiny size ensued. However, it seems Jacquemus and the Le Petit Chiquito were in on the joke. Handbag devotees adored clutching the bag with their pinky fingers and wearing the style using the long crossbody strap. The Le Petit Chiquito helped establish the micro bag trend which fashion can’t seem to let go of.
Loewe’s iconic Puzzle Bag boasts an intense allure which can only be described as, well … puzzling. It was the first bag designed by creative director J.W. Anderson for the Spanish luxury fashion house. The intricate yet elementary design features separate pieces of leather sewn together which can fold down until the bag is completely flat. It was first introduced in the men’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection but, owing to the Puzzle’s obvious appeal, was soon incorporated into the women’s collections too. The bag’s unique shape and versatility has given it lasting charm. Despite being one of the most era-defining It-Bags of the 2010s, the Puzzle Bag remains a popular Loewe classic today.
Within months of its release, the Telfar Shopping Bag had been branded the Bushwick Birkin. If that’s not affirmation of impending It-Bag status, what is? Telfar Clemens launched his eponymous label in 2004. Despite the brand being conceived at the height of Y2K fashion amidst all of the logomania and garishness which that entails, the unisex brand has become known for its stylized simplicity and subsequent cult appeal. The Telfar Shopping Bag is crafted from vegan leather and sports the sleek, and now unforgettable, TC logo. The bag is habitually sold out and now that Beyoncé has been spotted carrying a large white version, it’s very unlikely that will change. When the design was launched back in 2014, everyone wanted to know who this hot new designer was. Clemens has been described as a fashion outsider. And if the wild success of the now It-Bag proves anything, it is that fashion needs outsiders who are willing to shake things up.