“Cult” is a word that can be easily abused; just because a brand has a small, relatively enthusiastic group of fans does not a cult favorite make. That fans have to be so dedicated, so ardent in their love for a designer’s work that they create a high-entry point that’s almost prohibitive for newcomers. Those are the kind of fans that Olympia Le-Tan‘s handmade book clutches have attracted. If you’d like to join their ranks, good luck getting your hands on your favorite title. You’re going to need it.

Le-Tan’s literary handbags have sparked many imitators at all kinds of price points, but the biters haven’t detracted at all from the quirky, feminine, high-minded appeal for which her clutches are known. I check Net-a-Porter’s new arrivals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as soon as I get out of bed, and without fail, any new Olympia Le-Tan bags that they’ve received have already sold out, even when the notoriously hard-to-find Isabel Marant sneaker wedges still have a few pairs available. The clutches are one-of-a-kind, which makes a sell-through relatively easy, but they’re also $1880 and generally made of felt. That’s a very specific customer, particularly when you factor in that not all of her potential buyers might be fans of whatever book she’s decided to recreate in bag form.

And still, the clutches sell immediately. No matter the title, they’re gone in minutes. An unpopular title might stick around for a couple of hours before being snapped up. Le-Tan’s idea was a genius one of course, and that’s why it’s been copied by so many other designers. Women of higher incomes are more likely to be well-educated than average, which means that they’re more likely to have both an emotional connection to the classics and money to spend on a handbag enshrining that love. Could you see yourself buying an Olympia Le-Tan clutch? And if you did, what book would it be?

When they’re available, you can shop Olympia Le-Tan via Net-a-Porter.

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Share Your Thoughts With Us

  • crazybaglady

    I must admit that I’ve never seen or heard of Olympia Le-Tan before- but if I were to choose a clutch-book, it would either be: Gone with the Wind; A Tree Grows in Brooklyn; or Little Women. Love the classics!

  • Not at all. I was just looking at one of these bags closely yesterday on NAP and I wondered for a good two minutes who would spend that much money on something made of felt. I am an avid reader and I appreciate great craftmanship, but even so I don’t get the appeal of these. I think that they might have just become a status symbol somehow and that’s why people are running to get their hands on one…

  • Silversun

    The words “fake book” and “expensive felt bag” are pretty damning IMO. If you honestly love the book and have, as Amanda said, an emotional connection to it, then shouldn’t it be enough to carry *that* around while you’re (re)reading it? Brandishing a fake classic title feels very disingenuous to me. And maybe I’m being overly cynical, but I can’t be the only one thinking that not everyone who carries one of these bags had actually read the book. In which case, what’s the owner trying to show/prove, exactly?

  • Elegant Tomatoe

    why not just carry a real book? LOL

  • Jayne Dudley

    I love the book clutches. I would definitely use one.

  • I would definitely buy a book clutch or two if I had the money, mostly because I love literature. I’d buy “The catcher in the rye” and “Lolita” clutches.