We hear the same complaint from you guys a lot: "Ugh, this bag is just trying to be a Birkin." Sometimes it feels like a fair assessment and other times it feels like the evidence is a little thin, but either way, you guys have picked up on something important--brands really are turning out a lot of (at least vaguely) Birkinesque bags lately.
At any given time, several popular bags are likely exerting a strong influence on what every other brand is making; that's why we have so many bucket bags (Mansur Gavriel) and chain-strap flap bags (Chanel) at our fingertips right now. In most of those cases, though, brands are simply cashing in on seasonal popularity--they're not making the bags major parts of their design futures. Part of the Birkin's recent influence is probably a result of the Saint Laurent Sac de Jour's popularity--itself a heavily Birkin-inspired design--but the slow, steady increase of bags like it in high-profile roles at big brands means something bigger is afoot.
The Birkin occupies a unique spot in the handbag market and has for decades, which is the kind of longevity a brand would kill for. Not only that, but interest in the bag has only gone up, and even though Hermès has increased its production, there aren't nearly enough to satisfy demand. On top of that, there are tons of shoppers who love the bag's looks but wouldn't dream of paying $10,000 or more to have their own; together, those two factors mean that a lot of consumers are potentially up for grabs. The SDJ may have simply proved to other brands what a good long-term idea a quasi-Birkin can be.
When these bags first started popping up, they annoyed me greatly, but since then, my feelings have softened a bit. If the market wants bags that look like Birkins, then I can't be too mad at designers for giving up on trying to convince shoppers they want something else. This is, after all, an industry of gratification.
With that in mind, I looked around to find the bags that fit the bill the best, including two upcoming styles from the Fall 2016 runways. In order to quality, a bag had to be an east-west tote with either a top flap closure, a prominent front lock and clochette, collapsing gussets or a belted closure. In almost all the cases below, the bag has more than one of those attributes; many of them have several.