What’s Up With Soft Versions of Structured Favorites?

Strategic trick, smart marketing or both?

The Givenchy Antigona, the Balenciaga Hourglass, the Prada Cahier, the Saint Laurent Sac de Jour, The Celine 16, and the list goes on. What do they have in common, you may ask? They all have a softer, less structured, more relaxed counterpart.

Designers have been introducing soft versions of fan-favorite structured bags for years. The process of taking an already existing (and successful) silhouette and, well…softening it is nothing new, but why exactly do designers do this so often? Isn’t part of a bag’s charm and desirability the shape and silhouette itself? Doesn’t changing how a bag is used change the bag altogether? Some may argue that yes, it does. So wouldn’t it make sense for a brand to simply create a new line of bags rather than an off-shoot of another?

In some cases, keeping the same name makes sense, like the Saint Laurent Sac de Jour Souple, which doesn’t appear all that different from the original. Though its shape is slightly less stiff and the leather is softer, overall, the bag looks a lot like the original but allows it to appeal to a subset of users who wouldn’t otherwise want to purchase a bag that’s overly structured. And overly structured it is, offering a user very little give in its original form. Saint Laurent got it right with the Sac de Jour Souple, but other bags miss the mark, feeling instead like a haphazardly-named new bag that’s simply piggy-backing off another bag’s success.

Take, for example, the Givenchy Antigona. The structured carryall has been around for over a decade, and its distinct, structured shape is what makes the Antigona the Antigona. The soft, however, feels like a completely new bag altogether with its slouchy shape, folded-down corners, and side leather tabs. Fans loved the Antigona for being the Antigona, and the soft, though a beautiful lust-worthy bag in its own right, appears to be just that, its own bag. The Antigona soft feels like a smart marketing move on Givenchy’s part, capitalizing on the already well-known (and loved by many) Antigona’s success. At the same time breathing new life into a bag that to some, felt stiff (literally) and dated.

Other bags fall somewhere in the middle, like the Hourglass Soft, which contains elements tying itself back to the original, but still feels like a new design. And whether it be a smart marketing move, a way to breathe new life into an old design, or simply giving in to customer demand, it’s hard to deny that when brands release soft versions of structured favorites, everybody wins. What are your throughs on softer versions of structured bags?

Givenchy Antigona Medium
via Net-a-Porter

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