Please stand back, I’m having another whim

Sometimes you don’t know something is missing until it suddenly shows up, and that is the case with me and this hardware opinion I’m about to foist upon you. I’ve been writing about bags for a decade, and I can confidently say that 95% of hardware at any price point is some shade of silver- or gold-toned metal, with the other 5% being seasonal one-offs, like black or iridescent. Outside of evening bags, it’s also rare to see bags with rhinestones or any other embellishment set into a design’s metal elements, so in general, even though the overall breadth of bags available at any given time may be enormous, hardware varies relatively little. So when I saw this version of the Hermès 2002 Bag with a tonal enameled closure, it seemed totally refreshing—why don’t more designers experiment with these kinds of accents?

Part of the reason colorful hardware is relatively rare is probably logistical. A bag’s metal elements are expensive to make, but the cost is more easily offset when they’re made in very large quantities, which means there’s a price advantage for manufacturers to use the same hardware color and material across all the colors of a particular design in a particular season. That’s why it’s somewhat rare even to find versions of a bag with both silver and gold hardware at the same time—ordering two types of hardware is more expensive than one, and providing two options in a particular season doesn’t necessarily promise any additional profits. So with most brands, you one or the other at any given time, and recently, it’s usually gold.

Hermès 2002 Bag, $9,900 via Hermès

Hermès is one of the biggest exceptions to this rule—the brand offers multiple hardware options for all its designs, even if getting your hands on a particular leather, hardware, and style combination at any given moment might prove prohibitively difficult. That level of variation is one of the things that helps contribute to Hermès’s astronomical prices, but hey—sometimes you just want what you want, and for plenty of people, spending the extra money to have exactly that is worth it. (And, honestly, that’s the attitude basically all of luxury fashion is predicated on.) So it’s not surprising that Hermès would be the brand conspicuously experimenting with colorful hardware on one of its most high-profile new bags; not only is that kind of variation in the brand’s DNA, but it’s something that Hermès shoppers are willing to pay for.

Plenty of brands make shoppers pay through the nose for their bags, though, so I don’t think it’s too much to ask that more of them consider shaving a few dollars off their profit margins in service of creativity. And with indie brands popping up left and right to challenge the old guard of luxury fashion, they might do well to consider it seriously—younger shoppers value the unique details offered by these new contemporary lines. Established designers should look at that as an opportunity to loosen up and have some fun. Maybe they’ll start with hardware.

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