I internally debated for a hot minute whether to call this post a Throwback Thursday or not. Honestly, 2015 feels like last week; releases from the mid-2010s are still fresh in our minds! And surely, it’s simply too crazy to believe that eight years have since elapsed, right? In vaguely related news, I feel old.
But why 2015, you might ask? Well, you know how we all have a veritable mishmash of pouches inside our daily haulers? 2015 was the year the house of Prada went to great lengths to convince us that we needed an attached internal compartment in our purses. Yes, it’s that bag we’re talking about today – the Prada Inside Bag!
Of course, the idea of an inside pocket isn’t groundbreaking. After all, Prada’s own Saffiano Double Tote executes the contrasting leather-interior look to perfection. Yet, the Inside Bag felt different – its twin purse was carefully concealed and scandalously revealing simultaneously. And scandalous it was, managing to simultaneously enamor and anguish Prada fans and elicit polarizing reactions from the fashion set.
Although the biggest push from the brand’s Fall 2015 lineup, today, the controversial Inside Bag has mostly been forgotten. However, do you think the style warrants a second look in light of the handbag world’s obsession with revivals? Let’s discuss it!
Designed to be a Game-Changer
Prada introduced the Inside Tote during the post-recession era, hoping it would catapult the brand back to the top and become the fashion world’s newest it-bag.
Seamless and supple, the Inside Bag seemed perfect for the era of inconspicuous consumption. Handmade by artisans, the inner purse of the design is connected solely through folds with the outer shell, without any supporting frame. And alongside the originality offered by the offset-hued interior, the style came in luscious nappa, crocodile, and ostrich.
But Prada didn’t simply rely on word-of-mouth to build the Inside Bag’s star status. In fact, as Christa Binkley from the WSJ notes, the purse’s promotions left no stone unturned. The FW15 collection showcased in Milan featured rows of models carrying the bag’s different iterations and colorways to entice showgoers. At the same time, the marketing pushes centering around VIP clients, and special events made its buyers resemble an exclusive club.
And though unique in construction, the style itself was chic, understated, and functional – desirable attributes of an everyday purse. Despite all of that, what was the reason for its demise?
But Why All the Animosity?
However, the fact that it was laboriously handcrafted and made available in exotics priced the Inside Bag above the limit for many, with the small size in Nappa starting at $2,600 (although by today’s standards, perhaps that’s reasonable). An even bigger problem, though, was its rather problematic sizing. The large Inside Tote measured 11.8” x 8.2” x 6.8”, making it too small for most working individuals to carry it as an everyday purse, unlike its more popular Saffiano counterparts.
Another complaint many Prada fans expressed was that the purse must be unzipped for the contrasting interior to be visible. While the feature makes sense for the similarly-designed Fendi Peekaboo, the smaller, mostly unstructured style of the Inside Bag raises concerns about its overall security, especially for your possessions in the outer compartments. And its peeping-interior style was a bit of an aversion for some people.
Even the bag’s launch felt rather ill-timed. The late-2010s saw the rise of more conspicuous, monogrammed handbags, like the Dior Book Tote, and Y2K-revivals, such as the Dior Saddle and the Fendi Baguette. Hence, the overall, mostly basic aesthetic of the Inside Tote, compounded by the skepticism from netizens, appeared to signal not only the end of the bag itself but also that of an era of inconspicuous consumption.
Does It Deserve a Comeback Now?
Since its subsequent discontinuation, the Prada Inside Bag has mostly fallen out of the mainstream conversation as the fashion world grappled with a frenzy for all things over the top. However, as we move towards an era of quiet luxury again, it might be time to revisit some reasons why the Inside Tote also managed to garner a dedicated fanbase.
Firstly, though not as spacious as a full-sized carryall, users have attested that its large rendition fits as much as a Louis Vuitton Speedy 30 – not great for work, perhaps, but just right for a casual outing. Plus, its utilitarian organization, lightweight construction (despite being all-leather!), and crossbody strap make it a superior choice compared to the Speedy or its equivalents.
Furthermore, as extra-large handbags make their way into the zeitgeist again, the Inside Bag’s size strikes the perfect balance for us to transition from ultra-minis to maxi-purses. Add to that its subtle appeal and sumptuous colorways, and it gives just the right amount of if-you-know-you-know exuberance.
Throughout the ages, the house of Prada has established itself as a trendsetter. It drew gasps with its luxe-nylon backpack in the eighties, made ombre cool in the aughties, and now is doing it again. Its Re-Edition 2000 contributed, in no small part, to the industry-wide dominance of mini shoulder bags. And its crystal Cleo Bag is arguably what started our collective obsession for all things bedazzled.
Of course, not every release is bound to be a success, and the Inside Bag is a testament to that. Plus, given its overwhelmingly negative reception, it’s likely the house won’t revive it either. But since bowling bags are having a comeback, it can be said that the Inside Bag’s silhouette, and its quintessential Prada-esque design cues, have paved the way for newer releases, like the recent Supernova Satchel. And if you happen to be a lover of the original, much-debated style, you might just be able to grab yourself a massive bargain on resale!
As TPFer Madbag3342 aptly puts it: “It’s a happy little secret just waiting to be discovered over and over again.”