It’s in the bag


Firstly a confession. Many moons ago on the occasion of my fortieth birthday my husband kindly brought as a gift a Mulberry handbag, lucky me. It can now be best described as ‘vintage’, a navy tote with white stitching, plaid lining and brass zips. Made from tack leather it is as pristine now as the day I received it. A proper bag made to last, come the next nuclear holocaust, cockroaches and my Mulberry will be the only things still standing.

I am however a little fickle, for there is another bag I covet which spends its’ time chained up in the designer bag department of John Lewis. I visit when I can and stroke it’s soft, if a little thin, unlined leather. At over a thousand pounds an expensive bag, hence the chain, and you can tell it’s brand by the application of a rather gaudy brassy tag which when the light catches it can probably be seen from space.

Gone are the days when the name was elegantly stamped into the leather, when there was no need to shout ‘hey look at me!’
Like much of fashion, bags are akin to the Emperors new clothes, some will buy the ludicrous, both in cost and at times design, because not only is it this seasons must have but they believe the design upon their arm speaks sacks full about them.

There are those that will say they can tell the difference between real and faux but they’ll need to get pretty up close and personal to discern the difference between a Selfridges and a market purchase these days. Perhaps they can, sit in any coffee shop long enough and you’ll see the faux designer label being kicked under the table when the real thing struts through the door. It may be an offence to sell fake designer bags but there are plenty willing to buy the look of a label that perhaps they will, in reality, never be able to afford and treat it as a bit of fun and frivolity. Conversely some will invest in the one truly fabulous bag and love it for life.

But do we really care? Is the handbag we carry really what defines us? From the fabulously wealthy who either carry bags so enormous they could crawl inside to find their car keys,( yes I realize they don’t drive themselves), or the tiniest clutch in which they can carry absolutely nothing; to the polarized ‘bag lady’ with her worldly goods contained in carrier bags.

With the majority of us positioned somewhere in the middle with our conglomeration of bags for all seasons,
I suppose it does, either as an accessory or a sad necessity.

The handbag industry is hard to get a handle on, iconic designer bags have out performed gold in economic terms for the first time ever with the ‘value’ of the Hermes Birkin bag rising 500% in thirty five years. For the devotee handbags, much like shoes, have reached fetish status, people simply can’t get enough of them.

I must admit, although it pains me to say it, I’m not sure you can deny the wow factor of a genuine, great quality bag.

What do you think?
Written by Gill Grant