Don't get carried away but bags are still 'it'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 February, 2011, 12:00am

There's been a lot of talk about the end of the 'it' bag: the crazy phenomenon that drove many, regardless of gender, age or economic status, to spend a whole month's salary on the latest, newest must-have bags, only to replace them a season later with yet another bunch of the latest, newest must-have bags.

It was a cycle that seemed to have no finishing line as brands kept producing new styles or reincarnating their best-sellers in new materials, sizes or colours, or by adding hardware. There was also the marketing genius of the 'limited edition' piece, a catchphrase that seemed to bait every fashion fanatic hook, line and sinker.

Then the craze for bags ended, leaving those who had spent thousands of dollars on 'it' bags with closets stockpiled with satchels, duffels, hobos, totes and cross-body bags. Pieces that were once so shiny and new are now left collecting dust and mould. What used to be symbols of being 'in the know' became a sort of anachronism of a buy-it-all, got-to-have-it-now culture. So, many have declared the demise of the status bag.

But is the wave of the 'it' bag really over? Has the tsunami come and gone and, in its wake, are people questioning their heady purchases? Judging from the spring 2011 men's collections, it seems that the bag is not ready to relinquish its throne as a key accessory just yet.

When Louis Vuitton presented its 54 men's runway looks, more than half - 28 to be exact - were paired with a bag. Most are variations on a denim theme, including a travel tote (2) with a Louis Vuitton Articles de Voyage imprint (HK$26,700) and a satchel with a shoulder strap bearing the Louis Vuitton monogram (HK$12,200).

The two shapes at Louis Vuitton are echoed throughout most of the men's collections, such as D&G's, where models carry canvas totes as beach bags and picnic baskets filled to the brim with colourful beach towels and baguettes. Tod's explores a nautical theme with its waterproof tote (3) in classic sailing blue and white stripes. It is also available in other colour combinations such as red and white, brown and black, and navy and grey at HK$8,000 each.

Other totes from the spring collections come from Bottega Veneta and Gucci. The former offers a canvas tote in a punchy lime-green colour (4) (HK$7,580) and the latter (HK$14,900) has a soft camel-coloured leather (5).

For men who deem a tote as a little fey, there is the sack with a shoulder strap that can be worn across the body, messenger-style. Burberry Prorsum showed it in different sizes and shades of leather, such as sage (HK$15,500) and tan.

Dunhill and Hermes both went for the traditional messenger bag shape that is boxy, functional and unerringly masculine. The Hermes bag (1) is in camel-coloured calfskin leather with a dark brown shoulder strap, while the pieces from Dunhill have a schoolboy charm. Bally combines the trend for totes and cross-body bags in one design by adding a long strap to a leather-woven tote (HK$21,990).

Modern man carries more than his wallet and keys when he goes out. Unlike the cavemen who left home with nothing more than a spear, or the gentlemen in Edith Wharton novels who carried a book and a handkerchief at most, today's man is burdened with an iPhone, BlackBerry, iPad, gym clothes and shoes, sunglasses and the need to have something to put them all in.

The 'it' bag craze was about status, while this season is about function. How else can you leave your home with your trouser pockets as temporary storage?

Shopping list:

Bally Pacific Place, Admiralty, tel: 2525 0450

Bottega Veneta The Landmark, Central, tel: 2973 0882

Burberry Prorsum Alexandra House, Central, tel: 2868 3511

Dunhill Prince's Building, Central, tel: 2524 3663 Gucci The Landmark, Central, tel: 2524 4492

Hermes The Galleria, Central, tel:2525 5900

Tod's The Landmark, Central, tel: 2810 8692