I cannot get The Row's alligator backpack off my mind! It's been on my mind partially because its been on everyones' lips and websites and partially because it marks those twins as both real-deal designers and business women [in case they weren't already. I think they were.]
Some have laughed at the concept of a $39,000 backpack in the midst of a recession. Others have been angered and/or appalled. When Anderson Cooper spoke of the backpack on this show recently, he called the viewers' attention the similarity between the bag's price tag and the salary of a teacher. However, this bag isn't actually a laughing matter at all. It's sold out!
So, just what were MK and A thinking? They were thinking about business and how to make the best of it in this economic climate. The bags flying off the shelves at Barneys isn't a fluke.
Ashley Olsen, who has been toting the bag around New York and Paris lately, shed some insight on why the twins chose such an arguably outrageous piece for the Row handbag line. "During our last economic crisis in the U.S., the only thing that went up was Hermès," she said. Turns out the twins did their homework and judging by the lack of inventory at the major stores carrying the bag, they are onto something. Quality is super hot right now.
This brings me to the larger trend in the industry, which I have been hinting at for some time now: going back to basics and the role of luxury items in the recession. This seems to be one of the smartest ways for established houses to make the most of the economy. Most consumers are just not buying as much as they were and in order to get them to buy anything from you, you have to make it worth their while via: quality!
A lot of houses have seemingly clung to their heritage [and shelved being excessively trendy] as demonstrated at the recently-passed fashion weeks. Nicolas Ghesquière went for classic tailoring at his show a la Cristobal Balenciaga. Bill Gaytten showed the timeless jacket, Parisian day dresses and elegant evening gowns [even though his back to basics was very likely due to the antics that this house has faced as of late]. Sarah Burton showed the classic McQueen silhouette that the late designer was so hailed for. Bottega Venetta focused on signature quality textures and lush colours.
I'm not so sure all the designers who referenced the archives or focused on tailoring this fashion week were taking a page from the Hermes/Olsen handbook, but nonetheless, classic luxury seems to be back in style.