Chanel

The Chanel Mini 22 is Giving Me an Existential Crisis

Do I love it or not? Help me decide!

Unpopular opinion: as someone with the attention span of a goldfish, TV shows comprising multiple seasons don’t fare too well with me. After all, what normal person has the energy to keep up with a motley bunch of characters AND their respective character arcs, which keep rotating every season? It’s also completely beside the point that no normal person would spend hours staring at a specific handbag from multiple angles, but I digress.

The logical conclusion for me, therefore, would be to simply skip watching four seasons of an HBO Max show (which are generally rather glum, to begin with) than to try and make sense of the “ludicrously capacious bag” trope that’s been sending shockwaves all across the Internet. But if only life were that logical.

*Turns on the TV*

In related news, when we big bag-lovers were breathing collective sighs of relief over the reign (of terror) of mini bags finally nearing an end, Tom from Succession managed to send the entirety of the handbag world into retrograde in one fell swoop! The carryall will forever be associated with the opposite of quiet luxury. But also just in time for a flashpoint in fashion such as this, the house of Chanel has answered our prayers and shrunk its polarizing carryall, the 22 bag, into a mini rendition.

And if you thought the 22 bag was divisive, let me tell you; things are about to get much more heated with the 22 Mini!

A Look Back at the Chanel 22

Writing about handbags, for the most part, is an exercise in the exaggeration of things most people would scoff at. But perhaps I wasn’t entirely in the wrong when I’d complained, not too long ago, about a general lack of innovation from Holy Grail houses like Chanel. After all, the last major release of the brand had been the 19 bag, and even that merely expanded upon Chanel’s rather uptight lineup of quilted flaps.

And it was as if to prove me wrong that the house debuted a groundbreaking new silhouette in its Spring 2022 Ready-To-Wear show, fittingly named the 22 bag. Inspired by the brand’s early aughts hit, the Coco Cabas, the 22 stood in stark contrast to the rest of Chanel at the time – relaxed and bohemian in feel, it was perfect for buyers ever so slightly fatigued by the continual overload of flaps. Plus, at the intersection of a hobo, a tote, and a bucket bag, the 22 is also a spacious affair, a rare feat from the brand whose recent runways have seen bags shrunken down to the proportions of mere ornamentations.

Chanel 22 Bag Black

But right from its launch, the 22 had netizens divided over its aesthetic. Often likened to a luxe trash bag, its in-your-face “Chanel” lettering cheapens the look for many. And at an eye-watering price-point, its reported defects, ranging from the glazed leather cracking to the letters falling out – paired with a rampant gifting policy to every influencer under the sun – meant its adversaries were equally as vocal in their resentment about it. Consequently, many longtime Chanel fans were firmly driven to the haters’ camp, unconvinced of the bag’s style and staying power.

The Mini 22 Changed All That

What Chanel did wrong with the 22 bag; however, it has righted with the mini 22. Or so it seems. Released with little fanfare exactly a year after its elder sibling – at the Spring-Summer 2023 show in Paris – the only campaign centering on the Mini features the singer and Chanel brand ambassador, Jennie, from the well-known K-Pop band Blackpink.

And the formula appears to have worked so far. Without the swathes of celebs and starlets hauling it all throughout fashion month – and with Tom having conveniently dissed larger handbags – the Mini 22 has the Chanel girls swooning, prompting sell-outs even before reaching the stores!

Chanel 22 BlackPink
image via Chanel

But what accounts for the seemingly massive reception of a simple scaling-down of the original 22? Measuring 20 × 19 × 6 cm, the Mini 22 carries forward the viral micro-tote design that was all over the street-style set last year, with a daintier silhouette and just the right amount of punk. And though compact – and immensely cute, might I add – it still manages to fit most phones and smaller wallets! When was the last time a mini-purse could do that without inducing agita? I rest my case.

Chanel Spring 2023 Runway Bags 19
Chanel Spring 2023 Runway

Furthermore, in addition to the chain strap, the Mini 22 consists of a thin leather sling for crossbody-wear, and an aged calfskin version even comes with a detachable pearl strap by way of some OTT embellishment! And thankfully, the price, though extravagant, isn’t entirely ridiculous (at least, by Chanel standards) – starting from $5,000 after the recent price increase, while the Pearl rendition retails for $5,300.

So, Can the Mini 22 Win Over Skeptics?

It’s been a while since I’ve fangirled over a Chanel, and perhaps that goes to show that, with the Mini 22, the brand might finally be on to something. True to Miss Gabrielle’s original design, the 2.55 – which aimed to empower women with the freedom of movement – the 22 Mini manages to condense the right elements from its larger counterpart without becoming absurdly small or outrageously pricey. But that being said, in an atmosphere wrought with a generally unfavorable consensus against the house, can the Mini help to redeem it?

For a brand of Chanel’s description, a not-insignificant part of its success relies on its perception of unattainability, a hotly debated issue. The brand wishes to make its purchases appear as a landmark moment for buyers. Yet, it also continues to struggle with the issue of ubiquity, consequently resorting to Hermès-like strategies and a steady diet of price-hikes to hold on to a (rather fleeting) image of scarcity.

Chanel Mini 22

Unlike its contemporaries, such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel doesn’t have to rely on monogrammed, entry-level pieces to drive revenues. In fact, its seasonal runway pieces, despite being produced in limited runs, have traditionally sold for high prices (yes, even higher than that of its Classic Flaps), signaling that it’s these rarer, less-ubiquitous pieces that the consumers desire. And the Mini 22, which may ultimately prove to be a seasonal release, appears to be just that.

At the end of the day, if you’re not among those to carry “flat shoes for the subway” or “a lunch pail” in your bag, the Chanel Mini 22 will likely house most of your essentials, at least for a night out, if not for the day. And the heavy-handed discussion aside, the strong emotions surrounding the 22 and its mini sister show that Chanel always finds a way to stay atop the grapevine, even if not all its designs are equally well-received.

As for me, though I find myself torn over the Mini 22, I have recently learned to be more forgiving towards mini-purses in general, and just maybe, I might gravitate towards liking it! What about you?

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Tracey B.
Tracey B.
1 year ago

This looks like a cheap garbage bag with a $$$$ price tag. No thank you!

Samantha
Samantha
1 year ago
Reply to  Tracey B.

Yes, this! Chanel can make this bag in any size and it’s still a glorified garbage bag!

Sandy
Sandy
1 year ago

I think the best version of the 22 bag is the mini, by far!

Emmy
Emmy
1 year ago

Another great piece, Sajid! I, too, sit in the “hater camp” of the Chanel 22 bag. However, like you, I am intrigued by the mini. The big game changer for me is the long strap which allows the bag to be worn crossbody. It makes the mini feel more like a “bucket bag” to me. Despite the fact that I am a big bag lover, I recently bought a Gucci mini bucket which also is able to hold a phone, keys, and essentials and have found the experience to be distinctly more freeing than lugging around my bajillion pound tote on nights out. While I would not spend $5,200 on the Chanel, I echo your sentiment. Not a bad effort, Chanel!

Lori
Lori
1 year ago

I am not a Chanel fan and can’t see myself ever wearing a Chanel bag…but…this one is really cute. I would definitely give this bag a second look.

SlurmLoco
SlurmLoco
1 year ago

The mini is more appealing for those who prefer not only a smaller size but something that’s slightly tidier appearing and not quite as slouchy. It has more of a bucket bag look and is more manageable (not a black hole). I like the look of this more, and it seems to be perfect for spring.

FashionableLena
FashionableLena
1 year ago

The mini bag is really cute. The larger sizes still look like trash bags.

Samantha
Samantha
1 year ago

Completely off topic, but my SA said that Chanel is eliminating handbag commissions, worldwide, to their SA’s. This is beyond greed!

Miss C
Miss C
1 year ago
Reply to  Samantha

What? Are they increasing salaries? This is a bad move on their part, SA will be less motivated to sell.

Samantha
Samantha
1 year ago
Reply to  Miss C

I don’t know if they’re increasing salaries. My SA is a personal shopper and he emailed his clients an article that Chanel profits were up 117% over last year. Since his livelihood is based on commissions he no longer can/will sell Chanel handbags, but this doesn’t affect shoes, jewelry, RTW.

Lala
Lala
1 year ago

I really like this one! It’s so cute. I don’t, however, like it enough to pay the stupid Chanel prices.

Aspen
Aspen
1 year ago

It’d be cute if it wasn’t that price and that quality.

Stacey
Stacey
1 year ago

My first impression of the 22 wasn’t favorable, but the smaller version of the bag (particularly in black with removable Pearl strap) have totally grown on me. The $5k+ price point is quite terrifying considering the reviews lean toward it being poor quality. As much as I love its departure from other styles, I don’t think I could pull the trigger.

ZSG
ZSG
1 year ago

I actually like this bag! For some reason, in the past five years or so, I have leaned heavily into smaller handbags. I enjoy my Bottega WOC and have been using smaller bags more often. I’ve always liked the 22, but the price for this bag is ridiculous. I’m intrigued by the mini 22 however I’m sticking to my low buy for handbags this year. I wonder what fits inside…..

Christine
Christine
10 months ago

I just bought mini 22 in sort of light camel color in Korea and my husband got me the black one from Manchester. It was soooo hard to find that black one!! I love them. They are not so heavy and stylish. I can fit most of my essentials. My go to right now…having a break from my light Goyards😆

Gina Adams
Gina Adams
9 months ago

I was in Vegas Feb of this year. I purchased the White 22 bag, and I love it because of its beauty, but I’m more of a crossbody girl and not a shoulder bag one. Then a month later they came out with the 22 mini with the pearls. My SA at one store said if would be impossible to get esp the one with the Pearls. She said they had a waitlist for the black ones. My other SA from another store texted me the next day and had 1 for me. I absolutely couldn’t believe my luck! Someone had one on eBay for sale for 11k. This is probably my favorite Chanel bag other than my Tan 19.
I think it’s priced okay vs. the prices of the classic flap bags. This one will most definitely be a classic as well.