Saint Laurent

Is Saint Laurent the Only Major House to Ignore the Archival Revival Trend?

And does that impact the popularity of YSL bags right now?

When Dior announced that it would re-issue its iconic Saddle bag for the Fall 2018 season, fashion lovers went collectively well…nuts. By the summer of 2018, the Saddle Bag in its many forms—mini, medium, leather and classic Oblique—was officially back in stores and it wasn’t long before Fendi, Gucci, Celine and more released archival designs of their own.

The Fendi Baguette launched with such a fanfare that it was immediately a beloved choice for Fendi fans both new and old, and two years after the re-release it remains so adored that Fendi just brought back its original 1997 Baguette. Meanwhile, Gucci has seen such massive success with the return of its classic Horsebit emblem, resulting in a second revival, the return of its iconic Jackie Bag.

The trend is not limited to the return of specific styles either. In fact, many brands look to their archives for inspiration and take details from certain styles like old house emblems, shapes, fabrics or hardware. Celine based an entire line on its storied Triomphe emblem, which appears throughout the current collection both on coated canvas bags (which are vintage-inspired), and as a hardware detail on leather bags. Even brands like Longchamp and Coach have cashed in on the trend, proving the power of brand loyalty and recognition decades later.

Looking at the handbag world as whole, it’s incredibly clear that archival designs and ones that contain elements from a brand’s past wares are “it” right now. It’s interesting that Saint Laurent, whose bags sit on the same tier as the previous brands mentioned, has mostly steered clear of bringing back a bag from its archives, despite introducing new shapes that have a vintage appeal.

Does the lack of YSL designs worthy of a comeback speak to the brands staying power as a whole?

While Saint Laurent has been producing handbags since the 60s and 70s, though in a much smaller capacity than other luxury brands at first, handbags were never the focal point for the brand. Rather the brand chose to focus on its RTW, with iconic pieces like the Le Smoking tuxedo jacket giving (Yves) Saint Laurent a huge cultural significance. Upon the founding of his namesake brand, Yves Saint Laurent revolutionized womenswear, and his accessories were a push that followed later.

Though the brand has had some incredibly notable silhouettes and shapes that were beloved by celebs and everyday handbag lovers alike, like the Y-Cabas and the Mombasa, those shapes were often overly trendy and would appear more dated today than timeless. Saint Laurent has had many handbag hits, but seemingly not one that’s worthy enough for a comeback. Additionally, the present day Saint Laurent is vastly different than what it once was, and the brand has gone through many iterations of change, forcing a would-be buyer to ponder the brands staying power decades down the line.

With all of that being said, Saint Laurent’s bags may lack the staying power and classic appeal that some collectors crave when purchasing a handbag. And these days, if you want to know if your handbag will stand the test of time, the best way to tell is to look to the past.


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