Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Shop at the Bagaholics AShop

Believe or not, there are some great books on handbags out there. They cover everything from history, to trends, and even the psychology behind handbag mania. But Amazon sells much more than books. You can also get deals on subscriptions to some of your favorite fashion magazines. And while there you can explore other choices too, even some fabulous accessories. So be sure to stop by our AShop anytime by clicking on the "Bagaholics AShop" button at the right.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

How to bag a bargain on Canal St.

Weekend hunt for knockoff purses
Cloak and dagger adventure in New York

Who'd have thought that a hunt for a knockoff purse on Canal St. would turn into a cloak-and-dagger operation filled with dank alleyways, windowless rooms and a near-brush with the police?

I knew Canal St. was the place to go for fashionable knockoffs at great prices. But in the two years since I was last there, the whole industry seems to have gone more underground. On this trip, I discovered the back rooms and hidden warehouses where the most coveted stash is sold.

If you've never been to this part of the Big Apple, be prepared for a bizarre bazaar. Canal St. from Chinatown to Little Italy is chockabloc with narrow stalls where vendors sell handbags, perfume, sunglasses, scarves, watches and jewellery. The streets are crammed with bargain hunters, mostly tourists, who barter with hucksters for the bootleg bargains. This is where you'll find "Prahda" handbags or Tiffany-style bracelets sans the jeweller's logo.

But behind some of these storefronts are hidden passageways to secret rooms. This is where you find the blatant knockoffs - the ``pleather'' Prada and the stainless steel Tiffany-stamped jewellery.

I was on a chicks' weekend with five friends and set off for Canal St. with my New York buddy, Maureen, who knew of a good place for knockoffs. We entered a storefront venue where she told the vendor she wanted to see what else they had for sale.

Maureen and I were led to a secret hideaway behind the store, through three doorways separated by dank, concrete passageways. Creepy would be an understatement. Here, we found a throng of shoppers, checking out hundreds of pleather purses hanging from metal hooks on the wall. The labels included Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana and Coach.

The dimly lit room was unbearably hot. The Chinese woman doing the sales had a toddler in tow.

Maureen picked out a Coach Optic Signature Shoulder Tote that was on sale for $35 (all prices U.S.) She got the vendor down to $30. At a Fifth Ave. store, the same bags retails for $400.

The next day I returned with an order from one of the chicks who wanted the identical bag. Sarah and I went to the same muggy location where we found the same woman and little boy. They were sold out of the Coach bag so we headed back outside.

We were approached by a multitude of men and women, who sidled up to us, whispering: "Prada? Chanel? Gucci?" They showed us laminated photos of the bags and motioned for us to follow them. We brushed them off, but after having no luck in my search for the signature Coach tote, we decided to see what they had.

"Follow me," a Chinese woman said. She led us a couple of blocks down the street and across the road where we were handed over to her sister. Both had walkie-talkies, which they used to signal ahead to a warehouse and to lookouts on the way.

We were taken to an unmarked metal door, which was unlocked to reveal a long, dark, rickety staircase.

"Where on earth are they taking us?" a mystified Sarah asked.

"To join the international sex slave trade," I replied, only half joking.

On the second-floor landing, we were passed off to a young man. He led us down a dark hallway lined with storage rooms and opened the door to one of these windowless rooms.

Purse nirvana. The pseudo showroom was brimming with such labels as Kate Spade, Gucci and Fendi. There looked to be hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise dangling from the walls. Of course, it was all contraband. We found the Coach bag we wanted. It came with a matching change purse and we got it for $37.

Sarah and I hadn't set out to buy purses for ourselves, but we couldn't resist the offerings. I got a black Prada shoulder tote for $30 while Sarah picked up a lovely green-and-white Prada clutch for the same price.

Getting out of the warehouse was no easy feat. We had to follow an escort to the bottom of the staircase and were told to be very, very quiet. She received a transmission on her walkie-talkie and a look of alarm crossed her face.

"The police are outside. Run back upstairs," she whispered. We scurried back into the storage room and waited a few minutes until a scout radioed our escort to tell her the coast was clear.

Returning to Canada few days later, Sarah was stopped by Canada Customs at Pearson Airport. Her new Prada bag was the red flag that got her pulled over.

The officer grilled her about whether her Coach was authentic or whether she bought it on Canal St. The answer was obvious when he struggled with the zipper of the bag. She was waved through.

The French and Italian governments introduced legislation last year that makes it a crime to buy fake goods but that's not the case in New York. It's only a crime to sell the merchandise there. Still, police, politicians and manufacturers have stepped up efforts to crack down on bootleggers. But they've responded by taking the trade more underground, into a labyrinth of secret tunnels and backrooms of Canal St.

Guilt set in when I began my research into the counterfeit goods trade to write this story. The consequences are more far-reaching than lost tax revenue. While they may look like mom-and-pop operations on Canal St., it's been argued that this contraband trade has ties to organized crime, the drug trade and even terrorism.

A New York Times article described the connection to sweatshop labour. It told of a private investigator specializing in trademark infringements who happened upon a tiny door hidden behind some boxes at the back of a Canal St. store.

Opening it, he discovered an elderly man locked in a cramped, sweltering room.

Working off a debt to a smuggler, the old man was sitting on a stool, labelling counterfeit purses. In the 43C degree heat, he was wearing only underwear and a T-shirt. There was a jug in the tiny room that he used as a toilet.

While it's nice to have a fashionable knockoff, you have to wonder who's left holding the bag.


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Fall Signature Double D Shopper

I got my AKO newsletter today and I am just in love with this Fall Signature Double D Shopper, prettily priced at just $34.00. AKO is a leader in celebrity inspired designs and for the fashion forward but penny poor fashionista, there bags are just the thing. One of the things I like about them is the quality. Their product is well constructed and their design is very of the moment. I even own a couple myself. Sometimes I just can't bear to think of paying a four digit price for an item I might only use for a season and AKO is just the antidote. So be sure to visit them and explore! They also carry jewelry, sunglasses and other accessories to help you complete a luxe look at a bargain price.

The hottest trends at affordable prices!

Italy's Fashion Houses Wake Up to the Impact of Counterfeit Goods

Mario Boselli, scion of a textile empire that dates back to 1586, thinks he's found a way to outsmart the counterfeiters who have plagued the Italian fashion industry. A large, courtly man in his sixties, Boselli sits in his showroom in Milan, surrounded by racks of avant-garde clothes. He explains how his company makes a sophisticated synthetic fabric called Jungle for Gianni Versace. Suddenly, he gets up and returns with a swath of the intricately patterned jersey fabric. "It's difficult to copy," says Boselli. "The printing process is too expensive."

According to Boselli, who also heads Milan-based Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, the leading fashion trade group in Italy, designers have been racking their brains to thwart counterfeiters. Some are even starting to imbed microchips in products like handbags and blouses, he notes. Despite their best efforts, however, most haven't been able to outwit the counterfeiters.

Of course, fakes are hardly new in the world of designer fashion, but the problem lately has reached epidemic proportions. The First Global Congress on Combating Counterfeiting reported in 2004 (the latest year for which it has figures) that trade in counterfeiting goods has reached $450 billion globally. And in Italy alone, the market for counterfeit products is valued at $6.4 billion, of which 60 percent comes from clothes and other fashion products, according to the Milan-based Italian Institute Against Counterfeit Goods (INDICAM). The group estimates that Italy has lost more than 40,000 jobs in the past decade because of lost sales attributed to counterfeits. According to the Associazione Imprese Italiane Alta Gamma (commonly called Altagamma), a Milan-based association of high-end Italian makers of designer goods, the worldwide production of fakes has jumped 1,700 percent since 1993. So it's clear that Italy has compelling reasons to safeguard its legendary fashion sector, the only industry in which the economically pressed country still has global supremacy.

What's more, the quality of the fakes themselves has changed. They used to be poorly made, and easy to spot. But the newer counterfeit goods are made in modern Asian factories, with astonishing speed and precision. And they're not only found on the streets, but in shops in chic resort areas and near tourist attractions. "Instead of producing 500 bags a week, [Chinese manufacturers] are making 25,000 a week," says Armando Branchini, Altagamma's secretary general.

There are plenty of reasons why the Italian high fashion industry finds itself overwhelmed. For starters, both the design houses and the Italian authorities have been slow to react to the counterfeiters. For at least a decade, there has been grudging acceptance of fakes in the marketplace: Designers, unthreatened by the poor-quality imitations, regarded them as minor nuisances; and law enforcement agencies had other priorities besides waging war on behalf of makers of luxury goods.

But now, faced with better fakes, the industry and the Italian authorities are taking the fight more seriously, pursuing criminal charges against counterfeit producers, using customs to monitor illegal shipments, and raiding producers and sellers of fake goods. In addition, some designers are trying to find creative ways to make their products more difficult to copy.

However, none of these methods has significantly stemmed the tide of illicit luxury goods. The problem, say some industry experts and lawyers, lies less with the available remedies and more with the structure of the Italian fashion houses; they tend to be secretive, eccentric and driven by a single personality. To win the war against counterfeiters, the Italian design industry has to be better organized, more unified and run in a much more businesslike way -- in other words, winning the battle convincingly would require a whole revamping of the anachronistic world of Italian high style. In many ways, the organizational shortcomings of the fashion houses serve as a metaphor for the struggling Italian economy as a whole. What was once a strength -- the independent, family-based business -- has become a liability in an age of meticulously managed global brands.

For example, the design houses almost never band together in pursuing a counterfeiter, even when a container full of fakes is discovered in customs. Companies will instruct their lawyers to proceed only when the quantity of fakes is significant (about 100 pieces), says Flavia Cassara, a lawyer at the Milan law firm Rapisardi, which specializes in intellectual property. While part of the reluctance is logistical -- it's rare to find a big cache of fakes of just one designer, because each shipment usually contains an assortment of fake Pradas, Fendis, Guccis and the like -- the psychological barrier is higher. The fashion houses guard their secrets closely, and are loath to expose their weaknesses to rivals. "The only way to fight [the counterfeiter] is for the companies to work together -- but they won't," says Cassara.

The danger posed by counterfeit goods to the Italian high fashion industry is twofold: They don't just cut into sales; they sabotage the exclusive image and brand of the company. "Counterfeits are a major nightmare," says Giorgio Brandazza, co-director of the master's program in fashion at Milan's Bocconi School of Management, Italy's leading business school. A former chief operating officer of Calvin Klein Asia, Brandazza explains that companies spend millions to create an aura of exclusivity around their luxury products, which becomes difficult if the goods are too easy to purchase: "Part of the mystique for consumers is the difficulty in buying."

Until about three years ago, many designers claimed that counterfeits did not really eat into their market, because the copies were inferior and only attracted buyers who couldn't afford the real things. But in recent years, with the advent of digital technology, some copies have become quite good -- and costly. "There are different levels of counterfeits," says Stefania Saviolo, the other co-director of Bocconi's fashion program. She cites an example: At Forte dei Marmi, a tony resort on the Tuscan coast, well-done counterfeit handbags are readily available through private, word-of-mouth sales and even on the streets. These knockoffs, aimed at wealthy consumers, typically sell for $300; the real versions retail for $1,300.

The luxury watch market is particularly hard-hit. The industry estimates that two-thirds of the luxury timepieces sold online and in shops around the world are fakes, says Frederic Lejosne, managing director for Italy of Gucci Watches, a division of Gucci Group N.V. "We could have twice the sales [but for the counterfeit market]," adds Lejosne. The big problem for oft-copied watch brands like Gucci, as well as the prestigious Swiss makes, is that the imitators have become exceptionally good. "I can't even tell the difference at times; they get every detail -- right down to the gift box," says Lejosne. The result is that Gucci watch buyers, unlike those who buy Gucci handbags, are sometimes unwittingly buying fakes, and that hits the company directly, explains Lejosne.

After years of lackadaisical enforcement of anti-counterfeiting measures, the Italian government is getting somewhat more serious. Until a few years ago, Italian authorities considered counterfeit crimes "secondary," says Francesca Negri, a lawyer with Rapisardi. But there's growing evidence, often cited by industry watchdogs like the Washington, D.C.-based International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition Inc. and Interpol, that organized crime and even some terrorist organizations use the counterfeit channel to launder money. As a result, says Negri, prosecutors are now investigating counterfeiters more aggressively.

Moreover, there are also new laws in Italy aimed at curbing counterfeits. In 2003 Italy introduced the "Made in Italy" legislation to ensure that only goods actually made in the country could bear the label. Negri says that the law affords a greater degree of IP protection. Last year Italy even enacted laws that fine consumers several times the retail price of the originals for buying illicit designer goods. Though there were some well-publicized incidents of tourists being slapped with hefty fines in Venice and the Riviera when the law was first enacted, the statute, Negri says, is seldom enforced.

Having tough anti-counterfeiting laws on the books, yet not enforcing them, is typical of Italy's ambivalent attitude, say critics. "We have good laws in Italy, but they are not always applied," says Branchini of Altagamma.

So far, the most effective tool in stemming counterfeits is enlisting Italian custom officials to monitor incoming shipments -- especially those from Asia. (INDICAM estimates that 70 percent of counterfeits sold in Italy come from Asia, with China in the lead, followed by Korea, Thailand and Taiwan.) Companies, through their lawyers, are establishing direct links to custom officials, according to Lorenzo De Martinis, a partner in the Milan office of Baker & McKenzie. "You have to react immediately once you get a call from customs about suspected goods," says De Martinis, who represents Giorgio Armani and the youth brand Guru.

Tracking counterfeit goods and intercepting them at the border is expensive and time-consuming. So some frustrated designers are beginning to tap their own creativity to thwart fakes. They're working on the products themselves, in an effort to make copying the designs more difficult, as Boselli's fabric company does for Versace.

Other designers are using the fickle nature of fashion itself in an attempt to thwart copiers. In the hot young designers segment, in particular, companies are changing designs quickly -- giving them a three-month lifespan -- and betting that counterfeiters can't keep up, says Baker & McKenzie's De Martinis. As an example, he cites his client Guru, a hugely successful clothing brand in Europe that's owned by Jam Session Srl, a company based in Parma, in Italy's prosperous Emilia-Romagna province. Though its T-shirts with their distinctive daisy motif put the Guru label on the map, the company doesn't always go after counterfeiters of that design, because the "daisy is already considered old-market," says De Martinis. The essence of fashion, he adds, is "all about change." (Guru declined to comment.)

But what are the odds that fashion and luxury goods companies can outsmart the fake professionals? If what goes on in the luxury watch market is any indication, counterfeiters are still ahead of the game. At the annual watch trade fair at Basel, Switzerland, in the spring, counterfeiters regularly photograph the watches on display and reproduce them, down to the last detail, in less than a week's time, says Gucci's Lejosne: "I guarantee you what's shown at the start of the show will be selling outside of the trade grounds or on the Internet by the end of the fair."

For the moment, at least, Italy seems to be losing the battle with counterfeiters. "You can put serial numbers on your products, put holograms on them, send for the police -- but at the end of the day, there's not much you can do," sighs Brandazza. "It's part of the game."

Others in the fashion trenches are not quite as fatalistic about Italy's struggle against the counterfeit trade in the long run. In the next ten years, predicts Gabriel Cuonzo of the Milan law firm Trevisan & Cuonzo, who represents various fashion clients, the fashion houses will finally join together, pooling information and anti-counterfeiting efforts.

Maybe. But to get there, the fashion houses will have to adopt a more global outlook. Big egos might be dominating the Italian fashion industry for the moment, but that will inevitably change as the industry matures. "The fashion business in Italy is on the verge of changing from a business model focused on individuals to one with a global approach," says an optimistic Cuonzo. If the counterfeiters in China are running their operations with large factories and 24-hour operations, the days of running a fashion empire on the whims of one individual are probably over. "Fighting counterfeits is a business problem and requires a business approach," says Cuonzo. "Sooner or later, you need to think like a multinational."


Going in circles

Even though the word "grommet" sounds like it should refer to a small, furry animal, it's actually a fashion term. A grommet is a metallic eyelet. And it seems this tiny metal circle originally served a utilitarian purpose, delegated to shoes with shoe strings, or belts, or perhaps a top with a laced-up front.

But the grommet is having its heyday these days, carrying over into fall in a big way. Loads of handbags, shoes, belts and clothing are trimmed or embellished with grommets.

Once in a while the grommets serve a purpose, but for fall they're mainly used to add an interesting detail to everything from casual clothes and accessories to couture suits and dresses.


Monday, August 21, 2006

New Marc Jacobs Handbags, 'Amy' & 'Bleeker'


Woo-hoo, we have some new Marc Jacobs handbags to save up for (I know it's your favourite time of week when I show you new MJ's!) If the several cheaper Marc by Marc Jacobs bags didn't float your boat the other day, then these surely will. Let me introduce 'Amy' on the left, a large zip hobo with a pricetag of - ouch - $995, and her sister 'Bleeker' (unusual name there, Marc), who must be a better catch, at $1,095. Marc, Marc, you know such classy, expensive girls, don't you?


Sunday, August 20, 2006

Bag, Borrow Or Steal

Bag Borrow Or Steal, Inc.

One of the neater things I have come across is Bag Borrow or Steal, an actual handbag rental service. I heard of it a few months ago when an article on the concept appeared in our local newspaper and I was intrigued. As you can see from previous articles, even the fashion mags are mentioning it. Another of the neat features of the site is the Outlet. Sign up for a free memberhip at the Outlet and you can buy gently used previous rentals. So, I am glad to offer you a link above and a link in the Where to Buy section as well. Click through and check it out. I think you will love it.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fall Fashion Trends

I just finished my fall fashions magazine gluttony and I noticed in three different mags they gushed about the combination of cheap and glam. In particular, from Glamour, "My mother used to keep her 'best purses' tucked away in tissue paper; they emerged only on the most special of holidays. That idea - that you'd only wear your best stuff when you were prepared to go head-to-toe dressy - seems antiquated today." Personally, I have done this for years and I have seen many others that way, too. I don't know why the mags are only just now noticing. Being undeniably, ummm, Rubinesque, I have always opted for simple clothing (other than my freakish passion for floral print capris). It's my handbags where I let myself shine (after all, a handbag always fits), and if I spend $$$ on a handbag, I am going to wear it everywhere. And, even if you are wearing the simplest of jeans and t-shirts, you feel just a little less sloppy with a cute Coach on your arm.

Thankfully, designers are getting it that bags not only have to look good but be functional, too. Jennifer Alfano, handbag maker, stated in Vogue, "Every bag has such an overt personality now: ladylike, vintage, rocker. At my age they all make me feel like a victim. With my line I wanted designs that are structured but not uptight, that look youthful. Plus they're functional. Designers often trick up their bags, and forget that they have to work." Amen, sister.

As I have reported before, I am happy with the demise of the mini-bag. As Harper's Bazaar stated, "Don't forget about your extras. Even accessories have gotten bigger for fall. Mini bags are a thing of the past - and the new jumbo totes won't make you look like a pack rat. According to Kors, a slouchy shoulder bag is one of the season's requisites for your closet. 'The oversize shape gives a jet-set attitude to everything from a soft dress to a sweater worn with a skinny jean. It's the ultimate blend of the indulgent and the pragmatic.'" Harper's also reported on the It-Bag Bonanza. "With every season comes a new crop of of must-have waitlist-worthy bags. This time around, the carryalls you'll go crazy for are big on size and heavy on hardware; plus, they have just the right polish to take you from day to night."

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Paris Hilton Handbag Collection

Website listed as "avaliable soon" (their spelling, I swear.) I just ... er ... can't wiat.

Bags - Finding quality and function in one sleek package.

  • Big bags are in, but that extra weight can strain your back. Our solution is the "lunch" bag: a clutch tucked inside your tote to take along when you leave the office to eat or do errands.
  • Exotic skins can be imitated successfully with embossed leather or vinyl. "Ostrich skin reproduces so well, you almost can't tell real from fake," says fashion historian (I want her job) Desire Smith, author of Handbag Chic.
  • Pebbled leather won't show scratches as much as smooth (trust me on this one); it's usually more resilient.
  • Watch out for reconstituted leather - this cheesy stuff is made from leather scraps fused with other materials. It feel cardboardy, cracks easily, looks chalky on the reverse side. (I can imagine this being strangely popular with the "green" set, though.)
  • Decent hardware has weight and well-soldered rings and chains. Silver, brass, or nickel is most practical; when gold-plated hardware is nicked, the base metal underneath is exposed and things get ugly.
  • Inner space is simple to organize with two or three pockets. (I can't live without them.) Faille, rayon, or vinyl linings in dark colors (won't show stains) are most durable.
  • Evening purses in metal mesh wear better than fabric ("If a water spot gets on silk, it's done," Smith says). Embellishments, often glued on, are too fragile for bags in heavy rotation.
  • Bag rentals - to test drive new styles or get one-night custody of a megawatt clutch - are available at

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hendrix handbags a new fashion experience

For the "Foxey Lady" who has everything: the Jimi Hendrix handbag.

The greatest guitarist in rock 'n' roll was also quite the snappy dresser -- taking the stage in groovy threads befitting his role as a leading light of the psychedelic era -- and now his name will adorn a fashion line coming out in the fall.

The Jimi Hendrix Collection, a line of high-end leather jackets and handbags, will make its presence known in department and speciality stores.

A collaboration between designer Gina Alexander, Janie Hendrix (Jimi's sister and the executor of his estate) and rock photographer Robert M. Knight, the collection premiered July 16-18 at the Project Show in New York.

The line consists of five jackets, 12 better designer handbags and 16 junior market handbags, according to Alexander. Each item will feature one of three rare images of the legendary guitarist, including onstage shots from his 1968 shows at San Francisco's Winterland venue.

According to Janie Hendrix, president/CEO of Experience Hendrix, fans have been asking for high-end fashions for quite some time. "And we now have more women as fans," she adds. Which helps to explain a luxury women's line like this one.

Pausing, she says, "Gina's created the leather jacket I've always wanted to buy."

"With this line, we're giving the Jimi Hendrix name something stylish and couture, and not just another T-shirt," Alexander says. Smart move, considering the number of Hendrix T-shirts -- legally sanctioned or not -- sold around the world.

Janie credits the abundance of bootlegged Hendrix merchandise to an "old administration that didn't care about licensing." Since taking over the "family business" a decade ago, Janie's goal has been "to create and help put Jimi's music and image out there in creative, original ways."

Janie acknowledges that, between publishing and sync licenses, it is the music that brings in the lion's share of income. "But merchandising does well for us, too," she notes. "Of course, we're usually in five different litigations at any one time."

Not for the demure

It was not quite dark yet when guests started queuing up for the premiere of the Guess Handbags Fall 2006 collection at The Curve in Mutiara Damansara.

The new Guess Fall collection features gold studs, diamante, chunky buckles and chains. The glitzy event, far down in the courtyard area, grabbed attention and onlookers were aplenty, but only those on the guest list made it to the party.

More than 200 media members, business associates and friends of FJ Benjamin (M) Sdn Bhd (licensee of Guess in Malaysia) found comfortable nooks to down the sizeable cocktails served or indulge in a glass of wine or two as they waited for the “stars” of the night to make an appearance.

Of course, the “stars” were none other than the new Guess handbags that promised a look of urban perfection set in style.

The blaring of funky tunes and a dance gimmick at 8.15pm signalled that it was time to watch out for the “stars” as models took to the stage, sashaying with the latest designs with an attitude to match the style.

These were not bags for the demure; rather, they would have latched on well with women who liked the stylish rough look, as the collection boasted bags with faux fur trimmings, patent anaconda, leather, glittery animal prints, suede, gold studs, diamante, chunky buckles and chains.

From afar, the gold studs, diamante, chunky buckles and chains described a collection that suited the bold and strong; women who were not shy of strutting in daring accessories or making heads turn.

It was all about offering a collection of glam rock for a season of change.

The collection personified the aura of music superstars like Madonna, Beyonce, Gwen Stefani and Pink.

The handbags are available in large hand-held styles as well as smaller daintier silhouettes.
Guess also featured its Eyewear range with the glamour of rock elements in fashion to go with that funky handbag.


A Brief History of Handbags

Have you ever wondered about the origin of handbags and purses? Handbags have been essential to daily life ever since people have had something precious to carry around with them and only the items have changed over time. The very first mention in written literature comes from the 14th century, even though Egyptian hieroglyphs show pouches carried around the waist. Bags were attached to what were called 'girdles' which were fastened to the waist. Embroidery and jewels adorned these articles and were used to show status - the richer the person, the more elaborate the bag. More information on medieval clothing In the 16th century, handbags took on more of an air of practicality with the use of everyday materials such as leather with a drawstring fastener on top. During this period, cloth bags were used that were made larger and used by travelers and carried diagonally across the body. The 17th century saw more variety and both fasionable men and women carried small purses with more complex shapes. Young girls were taught embroidery as a very necessary skill to make them marriagable and we see the rise of beautiful and unique stitched artwork in handbags.

Neo-classical clothing became popular in the 18th century with a reduction in the amount of underclothing worn by women. Wearing a purse would ruin the look of this clothing so fasionable ladies started carrying their handbags which were called reticules. Women had a different bag for every occasion and every fashion magazine had arguments on the proper carrying of these purses. In the reticules one would find rouge, face powder, a fan, a scent bottle, visiting cards a card case, and smelling salts.

The term "handbag" first came into use in the early 1900's and generally referred to hand-held luggage bags usually carried by men. These were an inspiration for new bags that became popularized for women, including complicated fasteners, internal compartments, and locks. With this new fashion, jewelers got into the act with special compartments for opera glasses, cosmetics, and fans.

The 1920's saw a revolution in fashion with varying hemlines and lighter clothing. Bags no longer needed to match the outfit perfectly and the rage was for the stylish lady to carry a doll dressed exactly like herself, complete with matching bag for her minature companion! The discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb inspired Egyptian art on purses. The 1940's saw new austerity in clothing, including handbags with the war effort in mind. Metal frames, zips, leather, and mirrors were in short supply so manufacters used plastic and wood. The 50's saw the rise of important designer houses including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes and the 60's saw the breakdown of old notions of the classical and the rise of youth culture.

Copy is the most sincere form of flattery and, if so, Kate Spade, Gucci, Coach and Dior must be very flattered! There are many replica handbags flooding the market (just visit Canal Street in New York City!). Some of these "designer fakes" even carry the label of the Company they are imitating while others just have the signature "C" or "G" without the label.

What's in the future of handbags? My personal prediction is more individualized bags and interesting fabrics. What do you think? Send me an e-mail with your own personal prediction for the future.


L'oreal Oversize Leather Bags

Even A-listers who wouldn't dream of setting a Choo inside the Golden Arches are getting cozy with the concept of super-sizing. As the current crop of Tinseltown starlets continue their incredible shrinking act, the designer handbags they snap up by the dozen seem to grow in inverse proportion. The good news for us mere fashion mortals? Chic, capacious bags like ChloĆ©'s covetable large leather tote and the slouchy, mahogany Paige leather shoulder bag from Kooba are actually perfectly engineered for a real—albeit extra glamorous—lifestyle, with room for work files, a makeup bag, and both that literary novel you've been meaning to read AND the gossip tabloid that you just can't resist.

Go to the article and click the "Click here to see more" (isn't that Rafe Sue bag to die for?). It's a definitely a trend I like, as those cutesy little bags you see on the arms on toothpick teens maybe darling, but can't even hold a wallet. I mean, come on!


Friday, August 11, 2006

Most of us bagaholics like to shop via auctions. But we need to be safe in our bidding. I have been scammed before and vowed never to be so again. I can, I have, and I will pursue anyone who scams me again to the ends of the earth to get my deserved justice.

These are my red flags as a buyer:

* Seller only accepts wire transfers, money orders or cash transactions, e.g. Western Union.
* Seller requests that the money be sent outside the United States.
* Seller doesn't offer PayPal as a payment option. (Many fraudulent sellers have been banned from PayPal.)
* Seller requires the Buyer to call or email them before or after bidding on an item.
* Seller suggests through external contact that the Buyer completes a transaction outside the confines of an auction.
* Seller has excessive negative ratings or no ratings. Always read a seller's ratings.
* Seller has no contact information (Contact info is only provided after winning an auction).
* Seller is not located in the U.S.
* If anything seems suspicious, do not complete the transaction.
* If a person contacts you via email and offers to sell you an identical or similar item for a similar or lower amount, do not complete the transaction and report the user to the auction overseer.

Welcome to my new blog!

Let's talk about handbags, shall we? I want to dish about them with you and sometimes send you on your way to a great bargain or site, as I find them. So let's go!