Handbags. Doomsday for the It Bag? Is the Over for the Overpriced? Second City Style Fashion Blog

November 2, 2007 • Accessories

Chloe metallic Paddington $1850 @ Net-a-porter

Marc jacobs exclusive patent Stam Bag $1425, @ Net-a-porter


Yves Saint Laurent Downtown Medium Leather Tote, $1495 @ Saks


Yves Saint Laurent Uptown bag, $1895 @ Saks

I was incredibly interested in Eric Wilson’s NYT expose on the demise of the overpriced "it" bag. What interested more was that it was placed on the back page. Ahem. Apparently, the news doesn’t look good. But don’t misunderstand: the problem isn’t that the bags are too expensive. According to the article the problem is that retailers expect consumers to keep purchasing the expensive handbags each season and not once every year or so. While many high end designers like YSL and Chanel count on these accessories to pick up the slack for potentially slow garment sales it seems like the industry is waiting for the bubble to burst. For the full story see below. It’s worth the read. — Joanne Molina, Senior Editor

Is This It for the It Bag?




Published: November 1, 2007

EVERYONE’S talking about the bubble, and when it will burst.

Skip to next paragraph

Alli Arnold



There is too much inventory.
Prices are absurdly high. And analysts are predicting a slowdown in a
market that may have already passed its peak of irrational growth, in
2004. Even as prices have increased exponentially over the last three
years, with buyers trying to get in on the ground floor of premier
properties — the Paddington, the Muse, the Giant City — so, too, have
reports of dwindling consumer confidence and a looming credit crisis
that could potentially wipe out the value of Uptowns and Downtowns

Some people are concerned that a combination of volatile
interest rates and the weakened dollar will ultimately cripple the

Status handbags, you see, are a lot like housing. After
the rise of the $1,000 purse, fashion’s equivalent of the $1 million
studio, there inevitably comes talk of a backlash. Are we now living in
a handbag bubble?

“The new condo market today is comparable to
the It bag,” said Stephanie Phair, the vice president for merchandising
for Portero, an online auction house that specializes in the resale of
luxury goods. “Every bag has a name. At least in New York, you see the
same thing with all those condo buildings going up with valets, pools,
dog parks and fancy names. At some point, people are going to decide
that, in fact, what they’d like is to go back to the tried and tested,
the classic prewar or the apartment on lower Fifth Avenue.”

“The appeal of the It bag,” Mr. Phair said, “has started to wane.”

this is a moment when every bag seems to have, in addition to a price
tag that could be confused with a ZIP code, a name that conjures up
images of a wealthy enclave or a cast member of “Gossip Girl.” Heloise,
Mathilde and Beata are bags by Chloé; Mariah, Camila and Elsa come from
Marc Jacobs; the Uptown, the Downtown and the Muse are designs from Yves Saint Laurent, not buildings by André Balazs.

entire genre of slouchy handbags, described as “hobos,” may even strike
some readers as unintentionally funny, if not slightly offensive, with
their earnest descriptions and indiscreet prices — the Dolce &
Gabbana Miss Perfect hobo, $795; the Celine Bittersweet hobo, $1,700;
the Prada nappa gauffre Antic hobo, $1,750 (a crazy gopher hobo?) — for
bags meant to look as if they once belonged to tramps.

“Designers are just testing the laws of economics by pricing handbags
higher and higher until people stop buying them,” said Lauren Goodman,
the fashion director of Domino magazine. “They are so expensive, and
drive you to buy a new one every season, which is kind of a horrifying

Ms. Goodman is aware of the hot bags of the moment: the
Prada leather styles that repeat the ombré patterns of the fall
collection; the Marc Jacobs oversize clutch, carried by several editors
during the spring collections; the YSL Downtown bag, which is shaped
like a Chinese takeout container with a handle. “Some people still
carry the Muse,” she said of another YSL style. “They think the Muse is
hot, because they’re kind of behind.”

But how does one afford to stay ahead?

the rate that designers are introducing new styles, that no longer
seems possible, which has led to a shift in perceptions about status

“That whole phenomenon has changed,” said Julie Gilhart,
the fashion director of Barneys New York. “Our customers seem to be
looking for something more interesting. They don’t want to spend money
on something everyone else has.”

They don’t want a one-season bag.

the least, there is anecdotal evidence that the fastest-growing segment
of the fashion industry, also considered its most lucrative because of
its high profit margins, may not be immune to market exhaustion.

the leading American handbag company, reported last month that its
profit growth may slow this holiday season, setting off jitters among
investors who view the brand as the entry-level threshold for luxury
goods and an indicator for the broader health of the market. One could
not avoid the sense of dread reflected in a Women’s Wear Daily headline
this week: “A Chilly Wind Blows: Retailers Are on Edge About Holiday

Handbag sales in the $7 billion United States market are
expected to increase by 15 percent this year, according to the stock
research firm Telsey Advisory Group. This is considered a
disappointment, because the growth is about half as strong as the
category’s 28 percent gain in 2004.

“That $5,000 Marc Jacobs
bag is so yesterday’s news,” said Elizabeth Kiester, the chief creative
director of LeSportsac, which is developing a line of bags with Stella McCartney
that will sell for under $350, beginning in February. “The luxury
market is so over the top now that it is demented. I call them limo
bags. I don’t have a limo.

See the Top Ten Summer 2016 Trends for Women Over 40


Leave a Reply