Designer Bag Tic- Tac- Toe: What Happened to Originality Today?


Hi bag hags!

I have been checking different designer brand websites in the last few days and I could not help but notice that all these brands are producing identical- looking bags. Apart from the logos, there are hardly any other differentiators for each brand.

To illustrate, see my designer brand tic- tac- toe below:

Photo credits: Different brands’ sites

Take for instance the Chanel Classic Flap bag, which is pretty much a style in every bag lover’s must- have/ lust- for list.

 

The success of this particular bag at Chanel has resulted in thousands of “dupes” (short for duplicates), from high street brands to even Karl Lagerfeld’s own namesake brand. Yes, Karl Lagerfeld, the past creative director of Chanel. His KL Agyness bag resembles the Chanel 2.55 more, but the key shape is the same– it’s a flap bag with quilting, chain- leather straps, and a little “tongue” for the clasp/ logo.

Gucci has also produced its version of that Chanel Classic Flap bag in the form of the Marmont double G flap bag. But instead of using the woven leather- into-  chain strap combo, a curb chain was used. Incidentally, the curb chain is also used for the Chanel classic flap bag, only it is woven with a leather strip.

And so has Prada, using the same curb chain– oh and this bag comes in gold hardware too.

Other brands like Saint Laurent, Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Celine by Slimane are not spared from this designer brand tic- tac- toe either, as these brands have in more bags than one, produced their version of another brand’s best- selling style.

Celine (under Hedi Slimane) C bag

reminds me of Longchamp’s Mademoiselle M bag from afar (all the more if you changed the strap)…

Interestingly, designer bag- loving “purists” like to call out bag “dupes” or “imitations” from lesser- known or more “mass- market” brands, but if you take a hard look at all the bags posted above, they are all “dupes” of another. With the exception of the Chanel Classic Flap (a style popularized by Chanel) which was then “duped” by other mainstream designer brands because of Chanel’s popularity, it remains arguable which brand really duped who in regards to the other bags. But the bottom line is, all these “premium” designer brands have dupes of some other designer brand’s bag. Because in some way, if a bag style of one brand sold well, other designer brands take notice and would of course, want to replicate that same “success” with their own version, which is really not so “different” from the style they “copied.”  Whew! This paragraph was a mouthful (so many “bags” and “designer brands” in each sentence there haha).

With the recent price increases from Chanel and Louis Vuitton and with the similarity of bag designs from all these brands, it’s really interesting to find out why many are still willing to pay so much for a bag that looks the same as almost every other bag, with the logo being the only “main” difference. For me, “better workmanship” is no longer a good enough reason because based on my own experience, most (if not all) of these brands mass produce their bags and they all undergo very similar manufacturing processes. Very, very few premium designer bags are truly hand- stitched and hand- made these days (don’t always believe the “artisan” videos you see released by brands). The quality of raw materials can still be a fairly arguable reason. But even then, raw material quality has changed over the years. I have noticed even Chanel’s leathers have changed and quality has gone south (even if their prices have hiked up north). Which was why I mentioned that Chanel vintage bags (10 years old or more) really do have much better quality, based on years of comparing their newer leathers to the older ones. Heritage and brand history are also reasons thrown around when asked why bag lovers are willing to pay top bucks for bags from certain brands. Ultimately, we as consumers are products of successful marketing campaigns by these brands, which by the way, cost companies in the region of millions to create. We buy into the “history” and “heritage” narrative of these brands, as told by the brands themselves (most if not all Wikipedia entries about brands are controlled by brands too). But we will never really know the accuracy of the history as consumers, will we?

Sigh. Yes, I am somewhat disheartened by what I see. Because while prices of bags have continued to go up yearly (sometimes twice a year), I don’t see much originality in design and style anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love a good designer bag especially if design is different and quality is stellar, but because of this pandemic (and because I’ve had time to take a deep dive into the styles of these brands I mentioned above), I am happier to save my money for a rainy day, than to buy an overpriced (truthfully, they’ve become rather overpriced, but hey that’s “luxury” and “exclusivity” for you :D)  premium designer bag that’s essentially just a dupe of another premium designer bag. Sure, we do buy bags because it makes us feel good somehow– it’s like a little reward we give to ourselves. But are we reaaaaallllly getting what we are paying for?

What are your thoughts on this? Care to share? 🙂

x
TheBagHag

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