Opinion

What Does the Changing Trend Cycle Mean for Luxury Handbags?

Despite the ever-changing ins and outs of fashion, some bags continue to stand the test of time

Keeping up with fashion trends can feel like a full-time job in the digital age. One day Y2K maximalism is all the rage, and the next day, it’s all about understated high-quality pieces that are the opposite of loud. The fashion landscape is changing daily, and the modern trend cycle has the power to stump even the most seasoned of industry vets.

Where once trends came and went every 20 years or so, following the traditional cycle (introduction, rise, peak, decline, and finally obsolescence), in 2023, it’s not hard to argue that everything is trending all at once. The 90s are back, yes, but so are the 2000s. Oh, and don’t forget the 60s and 70s! Cowboy boots and cottagecore, indie sleaze and gorp-core, it’s tiring trying to keep track of it all.

How TikTok Changed Trends

The TikTok boom of the early 2020s is largely to blame, as is the coming of age of the first wave of Gen-Zers. Hannah Ewens of Vice described how Gen-Z is truly the first cohort of youth on the precipice of adulthood who have lived in this new retro-society so obsessed with nostalgia and its very own cultural artifacts. They are the ones who have such a large influence on fashion’s ever-changing trends as they are the first real generation who grew up with the world at their fingertips, quite literally, from birth.

From stylistic subcultures to microtrends and even generational lingo, TikTok, and subsequently Gen-Z, has singlehandedly smashed the traditional trend cycle in favor of anything (and everything) goes. It’s this obsession with ever-changing “moods” or “vibes” as the TikTok set puts it, that has had a profound impact on how we all collectively digest fashion, both luxury and not.

Alas, there is something positive to be said about it all. With everything trending all at once, it leaves space for creating a personal style that’s yours and yours alone. “What this actually speaks to is a fascinating amalgamation of aesthetics that is blurring the lines of set style guidelines and expectations,” José Criales-Unzueta mused for i-D. After all, style should be just that, personal, and it’s something we all need to be reminded of at the end of the day.

Vintage Fendi Baguette
A vintage Fendi Baguette

The Trend Cycle and Handbags

For handbag lovers, these changing times mean a constant stream of new (but often old) bags to lust over. And even as some grow tired of archival revivals and nostalgic wares, consumers continue to eat them up, boosting sales on the secondary market all the while. Those pre-loved carries have, against all odds, become some of the most unlikely It-bags of our time.

Whereas once toting a carryall from Louis Vuitton’s Spring 2013 runway show would have been passé, these days, it’s actually quite the opposite. As the traditional trend cycle becomes almost a thing of the past, it feels like anything goes when it comes to bags. The streets of New York are a perfect example of this handbag melting pot. Vintage Fendi and Louis Vuitton are like passing ships in the night with new iterations of old favorites like the Prada Re-Edition and the revival of the Dior Saddle Bag.

It’s that very Dior Saddle Bag, which was introduced 5 years ago, that remains a House staple, despite its release during one of the most tumultuous periods of our time. It has remained an icon of both the late 2010s and the early 2020s, withstanding this new era of fashion, and many other bags have done the same (think the Gucci Horsebit 1955, the Loewe Puzzle Bag, the Fendi Baguette and more).

Despite fashion’s constant upheavals, some bags stand the test of time, immune to the ever-changing trend cycle. Not to mention, in an era where everything seems to be trending at all times, there’s no better time to carry whatever it is that you want, whenever.

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#1Snob
#1Snob
11 months ago

Finally, a well written article that says you can wear whatever you want, because there’s no more big “trends”! 👏👏👏

Passerine
Passerine
11 months ago

It’s a shame this piece completely overlooked the influence — and buying power — of older women. When they shop at Gucci, for example, they’re usually not looking for Disney collaborations. They’re looking for quality products like the horsebit and Diana bags that show they can stand the test of time. They are less interested in fast fashion (and therefore contribute less to the environmental disaster that goes with quickly discarded fast fashion). Remember, Queenagers are just as important as teen-agers to premium brands as teen-agers. https://www.irishnews.com/business/2022/12/13/news/don_t_ignore_queenagers_-_women_over_40_now_outspend_millennials-2935808/

Sarah
Sarah
11 months ago

It’s interesting to see how vintage pieces are making a comeback, and some bags remain timeless despite fashion’s constant changes. The emphasis on personal style is a great reminder to carry what we love, regardless of trends. Thanks for the insightful read!

Brenda
Brenda
11 months ago

Interesting how this article came out the same week Cassie Thorpe and other vloggers filmed on the same theme. Was there a BOF editorial everyone had read?