I remember when all anyone wanted was a fun, flashy handbag. Prior to 2008, every sought-after bag seemed to be decked out with huge hardware, flashy embellishments, or some ultra-vibrant color.

Even high-end fashion houses like Louis Vuitton, Dior, and Fendi jumped on the brighter-is-better bandwagon and produced bags covered in sequins or crushed velvet or some loud print that signaled you were totally on-trend.

In-your-face fashion used to be cool, but for the past decade and a half, it seems that showing some restraint is the real name of the game.

Some say that the big financial crash caused affluent consumers to take things down a notch in order to practice “stealth wealth,” but the chunky hardware and fun prints mostly remained out of sight even once economic times began to improve. It became clear to designers and style forecasters alike that consumers overwhelmingly preferred a more minimalist approach to fashion.

No longer used to solely conceal wealth, the desire for minimalist fashion revealed our collective need for freedom and flexibility in our dressing. The pieces are easy to style, and there’s just something about those clean lines and clutter-free spaces that bring a sense of calm to an already stressful and complicated world.

It seems that even after more than a decade, this design trend has only increased in popularity. Its focus on simplicity really struck a nerve, and it’s left such a lasting impression on the design world that it’s now split off into enough sub-categories that even the most maximalist-minded fashionista can use as a base for their wardrobe.

Of course, there’s classic minimalism demonstrated by brands like Celine, and there’s also the more contemporary flavor found in brands like The Row.

But now, there’s deconstructionist minimalism (things are intentionally made to look unfinished) popularized by brands like Ann Demeulemeester, Maison Margiela, and Yeezy.

There’s also eco minimalism ﹘ pieces that are simple because they are produced without creating waste. Brands like Cuyana are fan favorites in this category.

And then there’s futuristic minimalism and genderless/unisex minimalism and so on and so forth.

There’s no doubt that pivoting to minimalism was a profitable move for the luxury fashion industry (it’s hard to hide the material’s quality without a bunch of logos and glitter to cover it up,) so it’s probably here to stay. But where will the design world go from here?

Do you think designers have altogether given up on visual complexity to instead focus on simpler concepts? Will the resurgence of flashy Y2K or 1960’s mod trends once again dominate the design world? Will intentional in-your-face conspicuous consumption ever make a real comeback? Is the laid-back look the new social signal? How long do you think consumers will be so keen on such decluttered looks?

Let’s discuss!

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Ed B
Ed B
1 month ago

I think we’re sort of having our cake and eating it too, right now. Yeah simpler pieces are way easier to style than, say, the super-busy multicolor styles and layers of the 2000s, but it’s not all Celine-like right now. Take BV; seems simple enough. But then they have bags with HUGE chains, not subtle at all, very obvious statement piece, even if it’s not LV covered in cherries or whatever.

Sandy
Sandy
1 month ago
Reply to  Ed B

I agree. While you have minimalist designs there are flashy designs too! Incredibly bright colors are all the rage right now, BV Jodi in crazy green!

fashionablelena
fashionablelena
1 month ago

I’ve always loved bokd, bright, and vibrant colors. I like interesting shapes and silhouettes. I like metallics and sequins/glitter. Animal print is one of my favorite colors. I don’t like black, basic handbags.

Now, in order to pull this off, I own more than enough jeans and black trousers. I don’t want to look like a clown, but minimalism will probably never be a part of my vocabulary.

susmita gupta
susmita gupta
1 month ago

All the models’ looks in the first picture is so sober, so wearable clothes and bags, love it

J B
J B
1 month ago

I think it’s possible to find whatever bag you are looking for whether it’s currently on the runway or not. Realreal is littered with fun flashy handbags.

C R
C R
1 month ago

Maximalism is a huge trend for FW 21. Also, logo bags made a big comeback several years ago, so I don’t think minimalism is necessarily the dominant trend in handbags rn. The increasing nostalgia for Y2K style (god help us) is definitely creeping into mainstream fashion. That said, the great recession in 2008 definitely ushered in a desire for more discreet luxury, for the reasons stated in this article. I think fashion has since branched out into multiple trends, with something for everyone. There is a currently place for both minimalism (think sleek 90s slightly androgynous looks paired with super simple leather bags or utilitarian prada nylon) and maximalism (crayola brights, head to toe leather, busy logo bags, embellished fendi baguettes, etc). It almost seems like anything goes these days (except, apparently, skinny jeans—which I will defiantly continue to wear bc wide legs and mom jeans look horrific on me).

Sego-Irm
Sego-Irm
1 month ago

I think, outside of the Uber-rich, minimalism makes sense. I don’t have an extra $3000 to drop on a new bag every season, and (just as an example) I can get more mileage out of a Gucci plain monogram bag season after season, than a Gucci bag with “beloved” written on it that came out only for one season and is now out of style less than two years later. Plus the plain monogram has stuck around for years. No one would be able to tell if I bought the Gucci Marmont when it first came out or if I bought it yesterday (as long as it was in still good condition obviously).

Plus plainer bags just match with more things. It’s a more bang for your buck situation.

Fabuleux
Fabuleux
1 month ago

I find understated luxury to be much more appealing than gaudy, in-your-face designs. That’s why certain brands feel particularly refined and elegant. For example, Hermès, Bottega Veneta, Loro Piana come to mind. In the end, it’s all about how one chooses to present themselves to the world.

ILP
ILP
1 month ago

I think that many brands are catering to both those who want simpler, minimalist bags and those who want a little oomph. LV and YSL are two that come to mind. My wardrobe tends to be simple and neutral so I am starting gravitate towards bags with color and more design elements to add a little pop.

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