Before the jetset and haut monde of today were sporting luxury bags like the Hermes Birkin, Louis Vuitton Speedy, and Chanel Boy on their arms, they were carrying paper bags and nylon totes around town, just like anybody else. But a new wave of designers are breaking out of the mould of releasing ‘It’ bags season upon season, and have decided upon themselves to “troll the world” (as the Internet puts it) and sell expensive editions of bags that look like cheap throwaways.
Perhaps the most notorious in this case would be the Georgian fashion designer, Demna Gvasalia. The 36-year-old took the fashion circuit by storm when his label Vetements presented its debut collection for the Fall/Winter 2014 season. Known for his tongue-in-cheek jabs at popular culture, Gvasalia was appointed Creative Director for Balenciaga in 2015 after Alexander Wang stepped down, and since then, he has been pushing the boundaries of fashion’s status quo with every collection he sends out on the runway.
Today, more designers are hopping onto the bandwagon of creating accessories inspired by everyday objects. From leather goods in the shape of paper bags to tote carriers given the moniker ‘blanket bag’, here are 5 of the most chic luxury bags that no one knew they needed, but everyone knows they want.
(Photos: Acne, Helmut Lang, Balenciaga; Featured photo: Style du Monde)
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It is a quintessential commodity for grocery shopping, and while it normally comes in a cheap paper form, Acne has come up with a 100 percent polyamide version you can bring to the supermarket to shop in style. Creative director Jonny Johansson’s cheeky take on the paper bag sports an interior flat pocket and a zippered pocket, and comes in a standard brown or pastel pink. Retailing at S$600, let’s hope it’s more durable than its mass-produced counterpart.
Yes, you read that right, this tote bag by Helmut Lang is called the ‘Trash Bag’. Made with silver metallic lambskin leather, it won’t be hard to miss when you carry it around town. Its long, rumpled shape and a cut-out handle gives the S$670 bag a simplistic look that doesn’t make it look like literal trash. There is also a mini version that comes in black, silver, and red; and is crafted in lambskin leather, metallic lambskin leather, and patent lambskin leather respectively.
Bearing a striking resemblance to Ikea’s Frakta carrier, Demna Gvasalia’s blue, yellow, and black Carry Shopper bags made waves in the sartorial world after they were presented on the runway of Balenciaga Men’s Spring/Summer 17. While the selected hues are signature colours of the French luxury house, they pay subtle homage to the Swedish furniture giant too. The lambskin bag comes in large and medium sizes, and has a long and short handle that similar to that of the Frakta. Even with a price tag of S$2,900 (compared to the S$0.99 Frakta), it is currently sold out online, and only available at a few stores worldwide.
The second shopping bag to make this list, this rather simple design is part of Balenciaga and Colette’s collaboration, which launched in June. While it looks exactly like the paper bags that customers will walk out of a Balenciaga boutique with, it is made of 100 percent calfskin leather with black Nappa leather handles — a big upgrade from the paper version it was inspired by.
Everyone should be pretty familiar with ‘Pasar Malam’ bags — those colourful plastic woven bags that are commonly spotted at the airport, night markets, and even at the former Sungei Road Thieves Market. Despite the garish hues, this ubiquitous bag has been favoured for decades due to its capacity to store a wealth of everyday objects. Perhaps this was what inspired the folks at Balenciaga, who created this similar-looking design, but with a luxe spin: The Bazar Shopper is fashioned in lambskin leather, and has a Balenciaga logo embossed in gold at the front and finished with palladium metal. It retails for S$3,460 — a whopping upgrade from its nylon counterparts.