It can be hard for even the most devout of handbag aficionados to keep up with the conveyor belt of bag trends fashion routinely spouts out. Whether it’s bags in the shape of delicious pastries or logo-clad and chunky chain-adorned options, designers never seem to be short of inspiration for new bag styles. But some trends are a little more rudimentary than others. The micro bag trend is straightforward in the sense that it simply involves shrinking down bags to microscopic form. By now, you’ve surely seen the cohort of micro styles on the arm (or more like the pinky finger) of celebrities and influencers. It seems like every major fashion house now offers a micro version of its most popular designs. But is the micro bag a quick gimmick to prompt a fanfare and boost social media mentions or a legitimate new handbag trend? And moreover, could the micro become a mainstay season after season? Let’s discuss.

The Micro Bag Phenomenon

The micro bag has in fact long been a part of fashion history. Handbags started off pretty small because women didn’t have much to carry. But let’s fast forward to when handbags started to get tiny ironically. One designer and one specific bag, in particular, is largely credited with beginning the micro bag style as we know it today. Simon Porte Jacquemus released the Le Chiquito for his namesake label’s Fall/Winter 2017 ready-to-wear collection to great success. But it wasn’t until Fall/Winter 2019 that the now-famous microscopic version of the style made its way down the runway and subsequently onto the Instagram feeds of fashion lovers everywhere. Named the Le Petit Chiquito, the style instantly had the fashion world enthralled. And what was so perplexing, and probably part of the bag’s charm, was that no one could quite work out why. Humorous memes on social media poking fun at the bag’s size were there one day and gone the next. But it’s years later and we’re still discussing the micro bag.

Chanel Micro Flap

Chanel Spring 2021, image via Vogue Runway

The Beginning

After fashion’s obsession with big bags during the late ‘00s and early 2010s, it’s understandable that a period of adoration for smaller accessories would follow. And it did. During the end of the last decade, mini bags ruled supreme. Bag lovers ditched their spacious totes in favor of smaller, often top handle, styles. And when the micro bag popped up on the fashion scene shortly after, it was regarded as a weird and wonderful progression from fashion’s newfound adoration for mini bags. At the time, many fashion critics interpreted the micro bag as a sort of goofy commentary on the mini bag trend and how far designers would dare to take it.

But is it possible that the micro bag is somewhat of an overcompensation for the previous era of tote bag love? Was it only intended to be a gimmick that spiraled out of control? Or did Jacquemus’ Le Petit Chiquito and other micro designs like it unlock something in us bag lovers which we didn’t know was there? A need for the complete removal of practicality from the handbag equation and instead an opportunity to gawk at and adore a bag solely for aesthetic pleasure and nothing more? Perhaps.

While styles like the Jacquemus Le Petit Chiquito stand out in the micro bag narrative, the micro bag cannot be solely associated with one specific bag or brand. It has instead become a fashion phenomenon. Fashion houses treasure their classic designs. Therefore, a sure-fire way to see if a brand is committed to a certain new bag trend is to see if they incorporate said trend into their classic bags. Judging from the cohort of classic bags now available in microscopic sizes, it’s safe to say that the prominent fashion houses are taking the micro bag seriously.

Fendi Baguette Charm

The Next Wave of Micro Bags

Dior recently launched its Micro Bag Collection which saw beloved classics the Saddle and Lady Dior bags released in itty bitty form. The tiny collection also features microscopic versions of newer styles like the Caro and 30 Montaigne. Dior is certainly not alone in its adoption of dainty bags which can fit in the palm of your hand. For Spring/Summer 2021 ready-to-wear, Chanel sent models down the runway wearing micro, structured metallic flap bags as jewelry-like accessories hanging from their necks and belts. This was reminiscent of ‘90s Chanel when the likes of Naomi Campbell and the other members of the supermodel gang would strut down the house’s runway adorned with glitzy chain belts. It also presented the micro bag as less of a bag per se and more of an adorable accessory to an outfit. Many brands now in fact refer to their micro bags as charms. Fendi has released its beloved Baguette and Peekaboo styles as nano charms which come with a clip to attach them to larger bags or belts.

Good fashion is aesthetically pleasing. Great fashion creates a conversation. And while it may not hold your phone or most of your other belongings, the micro bag has certainly started a conversation.

The Price of Going Small?

Whether viewed as a handbag itself or a detachable accessory, the micro bag is fast becoming a size option we’re seeing everywhere. Could we soon be hearing sales associates ask “micro or regular?” when asked about the latest bag release in the same way fast-food chains ask “small or regular?” in response to customers ordering fries? There’s probably a greater price difference between the small and regular fries at McDonald’s than there is between many brands’ micro and regular versions of bags. A medium Lady Dior is currently $5,200. And despite the fact that half a dozen of the micro Lady Dior could fit inside the medium version, the tiny bag will still set you back $3,500. Micro bag, not so micro price tag. And yet the teensy size is still wildly popular. It looks like the micro bag could become a recurring size option which fans will simply have to accept the disproportionate price of.

Good fashion is aesthetically pleasing. Great fashion creates a conversation. And while it may not hold your phone or most of your other belongings, the micro bag has certainly started a conversation. The minuscule accessory has prompted handbag lovers to question what they actually need to carry in their bags in an increasingly digital age. Even the very purpose of a handbag is now up for debate. Whether the micro bag began as a gimmick and social media stunt or not, seasons have come and gone and fashion is still loco for the micro.

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