Friday, September 29, 2006

Trend Watch: Oversize Bags

Think big! Move over clutches and baguettes; as far as bags are concerned this season, bigger is certainly better. Almost every trendsetting celebrity has jumped on the oversize bag bandwagon (think Nicole Richie, Beyoncé, and Kate Moss) – roomy carryalls are versatile (perfect for day and night) and practical (you can carry your entire life in them!), as well as überstylish. And the best part of all? You can find this totally cute look without breaking the bank. While we'd all love to tote a supersized Chloé bag around, many retail chains have their own twist on big bags that are still super stylish!

Their picks include:

Mulberry Annie leather bag

Chloé Paddington leather shopper


Gancio Leather Bag

Salvatore Ferragamo

Kooba Paige Large Shoulder Bag

Also go see:
Bang for Your Buck: Oversize Bags and See Which Celebs Are Carrying Them


Thursday, September 28, 2006

Handbags News from Singapore

NOT so long ago, women who love designer handbags would be happy to just tote a $10,000 Hermes Birkin bag about town. These days, even that is not enough to satisfy their It-bag fetish. They are setting their sights higher - on luxe bags that come with even heftier price tags of $15,000 and above.

But why splurge all that money on one bag? Fashionistas say luxe bags are more than just It accessories. Ms Jill Sara, 30, a public relations consultant with a collection of 25 designer bags, told The New Paper on Sunday: 'Just carrying a coveted bag separates you from the rest. These bags are worth the investment because they accentuate your personality too. If a suit makes a man, it is the handbag that makes a woman.'

A Prada spokesman said there is a waiting list for their Luxe Collection, which are mostly made of crocodile skin. The range is priced between $12,070 and $13,530. Some women are even willing to shell out as much as $30,000 for handbags made of exotic skin.

Said Ms Brenda Chow for Christian Dior: 'The Gaucho Bag collection is the most popular now. The priciest is the big tote made of crocodile skin with an exterior python lining that costs $30,000. It has a worldwide waiting list because the skins are not easily available.' There are about 70 buyers on the list in Singapore, while Hong Kong, China and Korea have about 140 to 200 people on their lists, said Ms Chow.

Over at Hermes, besides the ever-popular Birkin, the crocodile bag is also in demand. Prices start from $27,000, but taking the croc for a walk is the It thing to do these days, never mind the cost. According to, it is the most expensive accessory. Forbes recently put together a list which will leave any It-bag lover drooling, including Yves St Laurent's Muse, Prada's Frame Bag, Zac Posen's Alexia, Ralph Lauren's Ricky, Chloe's Paddington, Gucci's Boston and Bottega Veneta's Bambina. These handbags will easily set you back by at least $15,000.

Luxe bags are not just for the rich and famous like tai-tais, socialites and celebrities. Professionals make up the beeline too. Many, like events organiser Olga Iserlis, 42, already own a vast collection of designer purses. 'I have more than 30 designer bags and several are Birkins,' the US expat said. She bought her first Gucci bag when she was a university student. s Iserlis' collection is probably worth more than $50,000.

Ms Sara has spent about $45,000 on her 25-piece collection. 'I started collecting bags when I was a teenager,' she said. 'Now I have bags from Dior, Loewe, Louis Vuitton, Roberto Cavalli, Bottega Veneta, Burberry and Ferragamo.' And women like her who earn more than $100,000 a year do not need to starve themselves just to get their hands on the It bags. Ms Sara said: 'I work hard to satisfy my craving and addiction.'

Public relations consultant Tjin Lee, 32, also has a love affair with designer bags, which she calls her babies. 'I have 15 bags from Fendi, Prada, Gucci, Yves St Laurent, Burberry and more,' she said with pride. 'I am not that extravagant. I choose one key bag in each season and splurge on just the one or two.'

Bag fetishists who are too impatient to wait in line will even hop on a plane to get it. Ms Ponz Goo, 34, CEO of Haach spa and bodycare chain, once flew to Sydney from Melbourne just to buy a $3,000 Chanel bag because Melbourne didn't have a boutique then.

Luxe bags are status bags, lovers of designer handbags said. Said Ms Sara: 'There is a lot of facination surrounding luxe bags. It's like art. People will admire it and wonder how much that blue leather Dior Gaucho or the special edition purse is. Women are willing to pay a bomb for it because it also sets you apart from the others.'

If women fear to be caught dead in the same outfit twice, can the same be said about handbags? 'Oh no... I once saw 15 Fendi Spy bags at a party - in gold, brown, white, denim and patchwork. But everyone was just admiring all the bags!' Ms Lee said with a laugh.

Ms Lee and Ms Sara said their dream bags are crocodile-skin totes from Birkin and Yves St Laurent - they cost at least $30,000. But not everyone shares their enthusiasm. Mr Jason Baker, director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Asia-Pacific, told The New Paper on Sunday: 'Crocodiles may not be as cuddly, but they go through a lot of pain when they're stripped off their skin. Most times, consumers do not look at the bags and realise that it is an animal, because they admire the patterns on it. They have a choice to choose other alternatives.'

Sick of 'em? Just sell 'em
LIKE the Rolex watch, a designer handbag has resale value too. They include high-fashion brands like Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel, Gucci and Christian Dior. The Hermes bag, according to auction houses and retailers specialising in second-hand designer bags, can fetch a premium. The Wall Street Journal reported that the US$7,400 ($11,798) Togo leather Birkin was resold for US$16,800 at the Doyle New York's Couture and Accessories Auction. Last April, a black crocodile Birkin with a diamond-covered clasp and lock was sold for an astounding US$64,800.

Mr Henry Poh, who owns Cavallino, a shop that sells second-hand designer bags at Tanglin Shopping Centre, told The New Paper on Sunday: 'The most popular bag is the Hermes' Birkin followed by the Kelly. The Louis Vuitton bags are next. So far, the only brand that can fetch more than its original price is Hermes.' The bags must be in mint or showroom condition and in their original state. This means no modifications have been made. Mr Poh added: 'The designer bags I sell are new - some a month old, some even a few days old. Local buyers prefer a new bag to a vintage.'

But vintage bags are sought after in the West. There is a bag sale at Christies' South Kensington in London, said Ms Cecilia Ong of Christie's Singapore, where women engage in a bidding war for bags made in the '50s, '60s and '70s.

Bags to covet
Hermes Birkin
The size 30 Birkin bag is the most popular one in the store, said Ms Madeleine Ho of Hermes Singapore. The store has stopped taking orders for it as it wishes to clear outstanding orders. Said Ms Ho: 'There are still people on the list waiting.'

Fendi B Bag

Topping Forbes' list of bags to have, the B Bag costs a whopping US$27,000 ($44,000). Many are seduced by its structured yet curved bodice, said a Fendi spokesman.

Les Extraordinaires (Louis Vuitton)

Want to be truly unique? Custom-made bags are the way to go. At LV, these are the priciest bags, revealed Ms Aileen Png for the French label in Singapore. She said: 'It is only available by special order.'

Loewe Jewel Bag

Retailing at a whopping $159,000, this made-to-order bag is a tribute to Loewe's 160th anniversary. Said Ms Karen Cheng for Loewe: 'It is made of crocodile leather, adorned with semi-precious and precious stones. The metal pieces are all in 18-carat gold.'


Shopping: For fall: totes, clutches, huge handbags

This season, I am totally overwhelmed with the variety of gorgeous, yummy choices for handbags, totes and clutches. The major leather and design houses - Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci - showed wonderful new looks while simultaneously reinventing some old favorites. The Fendi B, for example, is even more popular a year after its launch. It is still a superstylish handbag that is sure to become a classic. Gucci launched totes, doctor's bags and hobos galore, with its 85th anniversary bag the coup de grâce.

Richer colors and superlarge bags are everywhere. The Novak by Alexander McQueen was almost ahead of its time last year, with its unusual totelike body. This season it's been seen on the arms of celebrities, models and the über-elite shopping set.

Clutches are also extremely popular for fall. These little darlings are at home on the red carpet or perfect for a night at the theater. The right clutch can add grace and charm to any evening. Some are meant to stand out and be seen, such as Roberto Cavalli's leopard print. Others - such as Oscar de la Renta's roll clutch - play the subtle style maker. Whatever your preference, a clutch is a must-have this season.

If a major designer item is out of the budget, some great contemporary labels stand out in this arena. Lauren Merkin has some gorgeous clutches. My favorite is the Eve. It comes in many colors, has a hexagonal frame and is the perfect addition to any outfit.

Bags are hot fun and an important part of your fall wardrobe. Remember, you don't have to buy into every bag trend. Go for one classic, everyday handbag or tote and add a few well-priced clutches or shoulder bags to your collection.

Ladies, just grab your bag and go buy a few more.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

eBay Forums: Target selling Coach???? ...

Hard to believe, but true. Check out the details in this eBay forums thread.

New Website Tells the Stories of Handbag Designers from All Walks of Life

The new website We Design Handbags profiles the fascinating people who create handbags.

The new website We Design Handbags profiles the fascinating people who create handbags.

Each week We Design Handbags tells the story of a different handbag designer. The website will feature handbag creators from all over the world and at all skill levels—everyone from those who make just a few bags a year part time to designers with hundreds of handbags in their lines.

“This is a chance for anyone interested in handbags to get a glimpse into how real-life designers go about their craft and their business,” says We Design Handbags editor Paul Lucas. “The stories on We Design Handbags should be especially useful for aspiring handbag entrepreneurs who want to learn how designers have gone from hobby to thriving business.”

The weekly profiles will provide insight into the featured handbag designers by exploring subjects such as:

• How they first got interested in handbags.
• What their biggest mistakes have been.
• How their technique has improved.
• Which books and classes have taught them the most.
• What kind of tools and equipment they work with.
• Where they would like to take their handbag designs in the future.

Readers have the opportunity to post their own comments about the articles featured on We Design Handbags.

We Design Handbags will always be looking for more handbag designers to spotlight. Anyone involved in making handbags who would like his or her own story told will find a “Tell Us About You” section on the website for contacting We Design Handbags. “A profile on our website could be a great opportunity for designers to promote their bags,” say Lucas.

The URL of We Design Handbags is


Seat belt bag makers set sights on stores

Dana and Melanie Harvey, the husband and wife team behind the sturdy seat belt handbags that bear their name, plan to open their own stores after almost a decade of relying on other retailers.

They envision 50 stores within five years. The first 1,200-square-foot store will open in Santa Ana in January 2007 across from Westfield MainPlace.

By 2008, the Santa Ana company plans to open stores in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, New York, Florida, Illinois and Texas. It may also look for partners to help it launch shops in Australia, Japan and Korea.

The company will keep more profits from sales in its own stores because it's eliminating the middleman. Now, Harveys and other wholesale companies sell to retailers for one price, then the retailer marks up the bag to sell to customers. With its own stores, Harveys will pocket the retail markup as well, providing extra money to pay for store overhead, Dana Harvey said.

To reach its goal of 50 stores, the company recently hired Joe Citizen who hails from Gap. Citizen's last role at Gap, where he worked for a decade, was to improve sales at stores that did not meet revenue expectations.

The business expansion will come next year when the company celebrates its 10th anniversary.

In 1997, the first seat belt bag was made from belts Dana Harvey was ready to scrap after pulling them from a Buick he was restoring. Melanie Harvey asked him to make her a bag, and he stayed up all night, crafting the bag from a flax basket weave technique he learned from his grandmother when he was a child.

The company went on to launch a clothing line in 2003 that it discontinued in 2005.

"We decided to just focus on handbags because we saw greater potential there," Dana Harvey said.

Last December, they expanded their core business by creating seat belt diaper bags after the birth of their baby girl, Marilyn.

Come Oct. 15, the company will relaunch its Web site that will require shoppers to click less on the mouse to make a purchase.

And in January, it plans to launch a luggage line, which fits into its accessory-theme business, Dana Harvey said.

He's also talking to eyewear maker Initium in Costa Mesa which sells its products at Nordstrom. He would like to work with Initium designers to come up with a line that reflects Harveys' woven look.

"I don't like the idea of just licensing the Harveys name to a company to produce whatever they decide," Dana Harvey said.

All these expansion plans are why new sales boss, Citizen, decided to work for this small company.

"I see the potential growth at Harveys," he said.


Monday, September 25, 2006

Authentic Designer Handbags - The Psychology of the Status Bag

What is the allure of authentic designer handbags? Farid Chenoune may have the answer and it definitely goes beyond fashion!

In fashion, it's the little things that mean a lot, says Farid Chenoune, who put together a book entitled "Carried Away - All About Bags" and an exhibit at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. "If you take a little object like this one (a handbag), you'll put together a lot of stories of what life is, what power is, religiosity, what men's and women's relationships are - and it's all fashion, too."

The importance of the purse extends beyond what we consider traditional authentic designer handbags, according to Chenoune. Purses are a part of our psyche and include bags holding knuckle bones depicted in Egyptian wall paintings dating from 430 B.C. The list also includes wizard's bags holding ingredients of power, doctor's bags, and religious bags. The similarity between a high end authentic designer bag and a satchel belonging to an African witch, he explains, is that both bags hold a secret and can represent power.

"What you put in your bag is very important to you. That makes a bag very personal, because in it you have a secret. A secret gives you some sort of power. Traditionally, for a woman, a bag holds the things you need for the day, but it's also your little beauty factory, which is very important to the identity of the woman" Chenoune says.

Of course, authentic designer handbags have been taken to new heights in the designer era, with top fashion companies adorning bags with logos and other signs of luxury, such as skins and fur. A recent auction at Doyle New York featured a black crocodile Hermès Birkin, customized with a clasp and lock featuring 14 carats of pave diamonds, that sold for $64,800. Whereas the inside of one's bag is supposed to be personal and intimate, the outside is a virtual advertisement of one's place in the world, Chenoune observes. This became emphasized at the end of the 18th century, when women shifted to the neoclassical style of dress, he explains. "The 'outside pocket' became the modern bag, and by 1920, it became a symbol of women's independence. It said she could go where she wanted to go, and didn't need a man because he held all the possessions," Chenoune said.

Designer handbags run the gamut from the delicately beautiful Judith Leibner bag to the elegantly simple Fendi, but, regardless of it's size and shape, it's a little piece of luxury that is within reach of most women and shouts to the world that this woman knows quality!

Shop our Astore through the link at right for more great books about handbags, such as:

LVMH sues eBay over sales of fake products

Louis Vuitton and Dior Couture, two leading brands of French group Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH ) is suing American online marketplace eBay in a Paris court over sales of counterfeit products.

According to a report of French daily le Monde on Thursday, the two brands accused that eBay, - World's No. 1 online bidding community of more than 200 million members -, had not carried out effective measures to block the fake items sale.

Louis Vuitton and Dior Couture claimed that between 2001 and 2005, the fake goods had brought them damages of 20 million euros (one euro equals about 1.27 U.S. dollars) and 17 million euros respectively.

According to LVMH's statistics, in the second quarter of 2006, the group found 150,000 ads for Louis Vuitton handbags and 300,000 for Dior items, of which at least 90 percent are fakes.

Ebay had not made any comments on the lawsuit, the report said.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Handbag News from Malaysia

The handbag, once used to carry precious items, has taken on a life of its own on the trend-setting arms of models, actresses and the well-heeled. It’s so in demand that collectors place themselves on mailing lists to be informed of the latest collections... and women are willing to queue outside the store just to get their hands on the latest.

Louis Vuitton, of course, has graced the It-bag category countless times on the covers of glossy magazines.

While It bags are seasonal, their bags have graduated to become classics. And whether you are 16 or 60, Louis Vuitton still figures in a woman’s heart.

For Hareena D. Tekwani, romantic moments in her life are punctuated by designer handbags. Her first — a Christian Dior — was presented to her by her mother when Hareena turned 16.

A Gucci became her next coveted bag, a gift from her first boyfriend when she was 17, which she lovingly toted for this interview.

Her third will forever be etched in her memory. She had mentioned to that same boyfriend that she would like a Louis Vuitton.

“I’ve never had an LV,” she had told him, a classic line that kick-started something akin to a mini revolution in her look book.

On the way home from a business trip, he popped into an LV boutique at London’s Heathrow airport and asked for the “latest”. That was for her 19th birthday. It was a slim black Epi leather pouch with a wrist strap.

The fourth, fifth and sixth bags came in a flurry. Hareena’s sweetheart had proposed.

During their honeymoon in Paris, the eager new husband snapped up three bags, two belts and a tie from LV. It was inevitable as their hotel was directly opposite the flagship Louis Vuitton store!

The three were the Suhali, the Monogram Multicolore and the Damier canvas document bag. The Suhali is a beautifully crafted sturdy shoulder bag in goatskin bordered with rivets and brass studs. This, she said, is reserved for weddings and formal events.

The Monogram Multicolore is her clubbing bag owing to its spirited burst of colour while the Damier Canvas document bag is reserved for work.

As part of her daughter’s dowry, Hareena’s mother bought her the Speedy in denim.

Next on Hareena’s list is the Suhali L-Epanoui in white, a longer version of the black one she owns. That, however, will have to wait until next year.

With more and more designer boutiques calling KL home — the latest being Lanvin, the next Pucci and Yves Saint Laurent — it’s easy to forget that the shopping scene circa 1985 was shockingly... local.

Then, Ampang Park, Pertama Complex, Asia Jaya and Jaya Supermarket reigned supreme with small single proprietor-type businesses.

The only designer boutiques to be found in the entire country were located within a single corridor on the ground floor of the KL Hilton.

Starting her career as a public relations executive with the hotel in 1985, Rosemarie Wee recalled her frequent visits to the LV boutique.

“It was very small then, say, about the size of my office,” she said, gesturing around the room, which was about the size of half a badminton court.

“There was one lady sitting at the desk in the centre of the shop, surrounded by shelves of bags.

“Those days, there was no KLCC, Lot 10 or Starhill. The Hilton shopping arcade was the place to go. Versace, was there, so were Chopard and Nina Ricci,” recalled Rosemarie, who is now area director of communications for Shangri-La.

With a keen eye for all things beautiful, it was not long before she set her sights on her first purchase at the store — a Keepall travel luggage. “It was very stylish then,” she said.

Her taste is now for “louder” bags, like the gold lame Fendi Spy Bag sitting proudly behind her in her office, and LV’s new line of leopard-print bags for its Autumn/Winter ’06 collection has not escaped her notice.

Such is her passion that she “went round half the world”, taking in the United Kingdom, United States, Hong Kong and Paris before finding a pair of LV tortoiseshell wedges with velvet trim.

These days, she makes her annual pilgrimage to Italy to get her “fix”. She is, of course, on the LV mailing list and catches up on the latest in fashion by scouring the 30 magazines she subscribes to every month!

Meanwhile, Erica Tham’s love affair with Louis Vuitton began even before she knew what the hype was all about.

When her friend lost her purse one day, the then 13-year-old Erica had no clue why the friend was so upset. It was just a purse, after all.

“It was just brown, you know, the old auntie kind,” she said. “It wasn’t Little Twin Stars!” she said, referring to the then It brand from Japan for any girl in the mid 1980s.

She was amazed to find out how much an LV wallet cost. Growing up, she became better acquainted with the label.

Erica finally got hold of her first LV with her first paycheck in 1992. It was the drawstring Epi Leather which she had a cousin buy from Paris. It cost half her salary.

Now co-owner of florist One Red Lily, she has been busy with the wedding season but keeps abreast of the latest bags over mahjong sessions, scanning magazines and poring over catalogues from various labels.

“After all these years, I still get excited about what the new fashion season will bring,” she said.

The monogram wallet she bought during her honeymoon 11 years ago is still in mint condition although she has lost two canary yellow Epi leather purses to pickpockets.

After the first one was stolen, she rushed out to buy a replacement only to have that nipped too. She is currently on the waiting list for a Birkin by Hermes.

Does the bag craze extend to shoes? “No-lah. I can’t bear to walk in such expensive shoes only to get them dirty!”

The man in her life knows only too well his wife’s passion for bags. One Mother’s Day, her husband surprised her with the boxy Damier canvas document bag! Lucky woman.


Stars Hand Over Handbags For Charity

Sarah Jessica Parker, Hilary Duff, Reese Witherspoon and Selma Blair and are among the 23 fashionable females who are selling off their designer handbags for charity. The ladies have handed over their Marc Jacobs, Prada and Calvin Klein bags to editors at teen magazine Seventeen, who are auctioning off the trendy items to raise cash for breast cancer research. All the bags go under the hammer on auction website eBay at a $100 (GBP55) starting bid today (14SEP06), and there are high expectations for Legally Blonde star Witherspoon's suede Prada bag, which comes with a stain made by the actress herself.


Kate Goes From Supermodel to Super Designer

Kate Moss' supercareer keeps on getting better and better. After appearing in 14 advertising campaigns for everyone from Versace to Calvin Klein to Burberry this year, Kate is reportedly set to design outfits for the UK retailer Topshop. Rehab never looked so good!

While Kate may be used to wearing clothes from high end designers, Topshop has more in common with Gap than Gucci. But that shouldn't be a problem for the fashion icon. Last week, Kate set off a shopping frenzy when she was photographed carrying a $5 bag from a drugstore chain.

While she's been a style icon for years, her latest purchase has set off a shopping frenzy in the most unlikeliest of places. Last week Moss was photographed carrying a bag she picked up at Superdrug, a UK drugstore chain, and a trend was born. While the purse retails for a mere $5, Moss fans snapped up the budget bag and it quickly sold out all across England. Tell that to your Birkin! But fear not all you Moss wannabes, several bags are still available on eBay. From couture to cheap chic, Kate's supermodel powers seem to have no bounds.


Monday, September 18, 2006

Tired of the authenticity police? (a rant)

I try to keep this blog light and fun and informational, as well as talking about bargains for those who can't afford the high end designer to die for bag. But I need to go on a little rant here, so if you just want light and fluffy, skip this.

Anyone who really, really gets into the handbag addiction, not only knows about great shops in their area, but also about the wonders (and blunders) of online shopping and auction sites. We know about the many forums and mailing lists for fellow handbag lovers, sometimes even down to a specific list or forum for your favorite brand. These discussions though have largely been taken over by certain vociferous contingent of "authenticity police" who shout down and beat down anyone who doesn't agree with them, and I think this is a shame, because it could be handled better than it is.

I don't know about others, but I am getting a little tired of the attitude of the fake purse cops on handbag forums. Before I go into my objections, let me state that I agree that producing replicas is illegal, so if anyone reads this, don't misconstrue what I have to say about the subject as saying it's ok.

However, I see so many people innocently post on various forums with questions about finding replicas that get torn to shreds immediately thereafter by some hyperventilating self-appointed authenticity expert about how terrible they are for even asking the question. These comments are then piled on thick as their various buddies post and post on top of the first insulting post sometimes eventually degrading to congratulating each other on what they have just done. This sort of thing just comes down to bad manners in my opinion. There is no need to be insulting to the poster who probably didn't realize that replicas were illegal or that it was such a big deal, much less insult their intelligence, morals, or fashion sense.

And that brings up another thing. These angry responders always assume that all the people who buy fakes know they are buying fakes, whether this is true or not. They assume all sorts of nefarious intent sometimes based on the most innocent of verbage. On one board, a poster made a comment on how she would never use such an obvious fake, and several posters chimed in about how that must mean she would use a fake that wasn't obvious and then got generally mean spirited about the whole thing. A dozen or so posts down someone made a comment to the effect that "ha, the original poster left." Well, of course she did! Her one little comment was twisted around and served back with scorn. I would have left the thread too.

I've seen some talk about how tired they are that people just don't read up and how they can't help being bitchy now because they are just so annoyed at having to explain again and again. To them I say, then don't. Let others that can be calm and polite about it respond instead. Perhaps it's time to take a step back from this issue, and even the forum, if it is getting one so worked up. It's just a handbag, darling, not world war, disease and hunger. Those are the things to get passionate about.

I also get tired of the excessive (and incorrect) hyperbole served up as fact in the designer fake argument. One of the first things you hear when bringing up the subject is how designer fakes are practically wholly responsible for the problem of child labor the world over. Firstly, the apparel industry as a whole contributes to child labor by outsourcing to third world countries just to make a few extra bucks on an already high priced item. Once or twice a year you hear the horror stories of some designer or manufacturer exposed for having their product made in Bangladesh or some other exotic country and doing an end run around labor standards that we hold such pride in here in the good old U S of A. Secondly, in point of fact, most designer fakes are made in huge manufacturing facilities, often in the same ones that manufacture the real product in the first place. Sure, sometimes there are the horror stories of some poor old man locked into an airless closet and forced to pee in a bucket while he attaches pretty little metal triangles to fake Prada bags. But this is actually atypical of how it really works. These are tightly run businesses in foreign countries without the resources to crack down on something like a replica factory. Some countries have their hands full just keeping their murder rate below 5% a year.

In point of fact, that argument could be turned around to say that replica manufacture actually helps support women's rights. What? you say. When my husband and I were on a long car ride we were listening to XMPR when they had a really interesting and detailed piece about women in rural China trying to break out of old, stultifying traditions and were moving in droves to the city to get educations or jobs. Of the many places they got starting jobs were with the manufacturers in the cities, and one part of the story even extensively detailed the story of one woman who specifically worked in a facility that made designer and replica handbags. Like many, it was to prove to be a start for her and she eventually earned enough to go to secretarial school and move up and out into the world. As a feminist, I applauded her drive to be as much as she could be in a society that traditionally thinks women should marry and stay home to raise children. I recently responded to a post that got a little too pushy about the child labor thing and I told this story trying to logically get the poster to see that the issue is not so cut and dried. I hesitantly returned to the forum the following morning, bracing myself for a load of criticism which I was sure would follow. Instead, I found the thread completely deleted, whether for daring to post my own contrary view or for the flaming that followed I will never know.

Another argument faithfully trotted out is how buying a designer fake supports terrorism. This seems to come from an analysis of the funding for the 9/11 terrorists where it was stated that a small part of their monies came from counterfeiting. Now, the trail is pretty murky, so general counterfeiting could mean many things and is most probably linked to counterfeiting actual money, handbags have never been pinpointed as an actual origin, and probably never will be. But throwing out this argument is commonly done, and thereafter the person even thinking about or accidentally or intentionally buying a fake is practically treated with the scorn and horror of dealing with a child molestor and this is just plain silly.

Sometimes you hear that designer fakes contribute to drugs and other generalized crime, and in a vague way this is true. But the whole cycle of crime, drugs to counterfeiting to murder and back again, is so intricately intertwined that we simply cannot make such pinpoint statements about the issue. Crime contributes to other crimes and that is as detailed a statement as we should make.

The one issue where I agree is that this is an issue of copyright theft. When you blatantly steal a designer's entire handbag concept down to shape, size, look and even logo, you are stealing from that label. But even the economics of this issue are deceiving. First off, it's not like Marc Jacobs is not going to eat tonight because someone made a replica Venetia and sold it for 10% of the value of a real one. In point of fact, the single mom who bought that replica is probably never going to be in the market for the real deal, so you can't lose a sale you were never going to get in the first place. And how does this apply to the murkier concept of "designer inspired"? For instance, how far can you go copying a bag and simply leaving off a label or a signature mark? How is that a perfectly copied Coach Soho is okay simply because the maker used hard to distinguish G's instead of C's? This point just leaves me confused.

If we really want to fix this problem of designer replicas, we need to fix a much bigger issue and that is our insistance on judging people based on looks. We are negatively judgemental towards those that are heavier than us, or not wearing the latest "it" jeans, or carrying that hot handbag. Our focus on this superficiality is what drives this industry.

Look, I am writing a handbag blog so I can't say that I am innocent. I DO love handbags, but I wear designs because I think they are fun or functional, because they make me feel good, not because I am trying to impress someone. But until we get over our obsession with beauty, the replica industry is here to stay.

Being mean spirited or snide to others in message boards or mailing lists is not going to fix that.

Handbags As A Symbol of Female Power

Have you ever thought of handbags as a symbol of female power? Margaret Thatcher's bag is a great example of how handbags are connected to powerful women.

Have you ever thought of a handbag as a symbol of female power and authority? Of course everyone is different so a purse for one person may mean something totally different and unique for another but let's look at handbags from a different perspective.

Have you ever noticed that the press of England has spent time and effort speculating and commenting on ex-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's handbag? To quote "The Times" in June, 1982 written by Julian Critchley, "She...tends to believe the worst of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. She cannot see an institution without hitting it with her handbag..."

It's obvious that the press equates Margaret Thatcher's handbag with her assertion of power and the ability to impose her will. If you look closely, you will notice that her handbags closely resemble the Queen Mother's handbags. Is is because both of these powerful women choose the same type of bag or is Ex-Prime Minister Thatcher deliberately mimicking this female symbol of ultimate authority in her country?

Negotiations are underway for the famous handbag to be placed in a museum that houses Winston Churchill's papers and historical documents from the War. There is no indication that Mr. Churchill's wallet is stored in this prestigious collection but, then again, Margaret Thatcher was the first woman to impose her powerful presense (and pocketbook!) on 10 Downing Street!


Urban Outfitter's YSL 'Muse' Inspired Bowling Bag


Now this is just sad. The other day I showed you Urban Outfitter's blatant copy of the Chloe Paddington tote, this time 'round it's the YSL 'Muse' they have been 'inspired' by. The two bags look so similar it's almost tricky to remember which is which, but on the left is the YSL version, for $1,195, and on the right is Urban Outfitter's 'Pebbled Bowling Bag', for $58. Again, this is made from vinyl, so I'd be surprised if it lasted you longer than a season.

(Of course, you may not carry this look for longer than a season, in my opinion, so it may very well be worth it. Only you can decide.)

This article highlights something I have always wondered about. What is the line between a replica (an out and out copy) and a designer inspired bag that looks so much like the original that it is virtually indistinguishable?


Friday, September 15, 2006

Champagne taste with a beer budget?

I have found a delightful site that you must check out if that describes you. Handbag Express is a wholesale site selling great designer alternatives (not replicas) that you must check out. On Tuesday I ordered 7 bags (which only totalled to a little over $100!) and they already arrived today. Decent quality, all man made materials, they were pretty awesome. I can't always afford a Coach, but I will certainly sometimes buy what I call a "Goach" (designer inspired) and I am certain the same is true of most of us. But you can totally update your purse wardrobe, or test drive some of the newest styles, and save money too! Now I just have to decide which one to carry tomorrow. Decisions, decisions!

Monday, September 11, 2006

How a Hermes Kelly Handbag is Made

The Kelly Bag (named for the actress and princess Grace Kelly) is made by one individual craftsman in about 18 hours of work.

The skins arrive at the factory already laid out in perfect symmetry, ready for the expert to being his (or her) magic. Goat skins are used for the lining and this is the first part to be actually sewn.

After the lining is made, the base of the handbag is handsewn to the front and back with waxed linen thread. A double saddle stitch is used and each thrust of the needle is carefully done. A tiny hole is made with an awl before each stitch and the stitch size dictates the size of the hole. Adjustment is made for the particular grain of the leather to work with the natural pattern.

The handle comes next in the careful construction of the Kelly handbag and the shaping is done by hand with painstaking attention to detail. The layers of the stitched leather is smoothed with sandpaper and then dyed to match the handbag. Hot wax is applied to protect the handle from moisture.

The distinctive front flap is then added to the bag body and next is the distinctive hardware and 4 feet on the bottom. Each of these metal parts are hand riveted.

Believe it or not, the handbag is then ironed to gently smooth out the wrinkles in the calfskin. Last (but certainly not least!) is the famous gold stamp that says "Hermes Paris".


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Jimmy Choo's 'Mahala' Likes Moshing With The Best Of Us

A little while ago I was endorsing the black leather and silver hardware fad which is sweeping the fashion world into a frenzy, and have just now discovered this great Jimmy Choo tribute to the glory years of 1977. It's hard, it's edgy, and looks like it has lots of little pockets to stash away those lippies!

Of course not everyone can afford a Jimmy Choo so might I suggest instead:

Have you ever looked at a bag and your heart just stopped? Mine just did with this Kathy Von Zeeland bag. I love hardware and buckles and am very fond of a good solid hobo. Well this one has all that and I think I shall now officially declare it my "IT" bag for fall. I have ordered one and now I am trying to sit on my hands while I wait for it to arrive.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

eBay Forums: Have you ever been so excited to get ...

You just have to check out this conversation about being so excited when your new bag arrives that hug the mailman or chase a Fedex truck across two counties. I am shamed to admit that I have probably done many of these things in my eagerness. What about you?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Lulu Guinness' new Couture lines show off perfect English style for next season | Vogue

Everybody's been talking about Lulu Guinness' Couture collection of handbags, and they are finally available to buy in store. Take your choice of the Beatrice, Talullah (with pretty compartments for your lipstick, compact and loose change), Belle, Hillary or Ava and don't miss your chance to see Lulu herself in action, introducing the new collection as part of the Harrods Anything Is Possible initiative on September 23. As if further persuasion is needed, Lulu's first ever lifestyle campaign, showing off the bags and the stunning new Couture jewellery range, will appear in stores across the world from the end of this month. The images show Kat from M&P Models playing the perfect Lulu muse in the sunshine on Brighton Pier. "I chose Brighton Pier because it is quintessentially English," says the Lulu Guinness MD, Casey Gorman. "The idea of an amusement park is bright and bold, just like Lulu. It creates an energy, buzz and humour all of which are captured in each Lulu Guinness piece. I wanted to show this new collection in a light that still embraces our core values but also exposes the collections' wearability."


Power purses: Making your statement is all in the bag

Lisa Tant loves the scene in The Devil Wears Prada when Meryl Streep, playing haughty fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly, slams her fur coat and handbag on her assistant's desk.

And then does it again the next day.

And again the next. And the next.

In fact, Streep flings a fur coat and a designer bag on hapless Andy Sachs's desk about a dozen times -- every day a different coat and a different bag.

Tant, who is editor-in-chief of Flare magazine, says it's Miranda's way of saying, "I have arrived and I'm far more important than you and don't you forget it."

We may not all think we're more important than everyone else, but most of us would probably like others to know we've arrived. Carrying a great handbag is an easy way to go about it. (Although we don't recommend slamming it on a subordinate's desk; people in the theatre cringed even as they laughed during this scene.)

In fact, in The Devil Wears Prada, our first look at Miranda is a close-up shot of her Prada bag.

"It's a status symbol," says Tant in explaining the growing interest among Flare readers and fashion designers in handbags. "Your money is in it. It's the first thing people see. You put it down on the cash register counter when you're going to pay for something and right away it doesn't matter whether your clothes are from Zara or Gucci. You're making a statement with this bag that you're putting it on the counter with a bit of a thunk: I've arrived. This is what I stand for. This is the fashion tribe I belong to."

According to Tant, more of us want to belong to the tribe that invests in one expensive "it" bag each season. This fall, it's a Gucci 85th anniversary bag, or a Louis Vuitton, or Balenciaga's latest. Designers are savvy to the bag craze.

"Before, they would introduce an accessories collection that would include some bags," says Tant. "Now they are saying, 'Here's our it bag for the season.' So they're already telling the consumer 'this is the one you have to have from us,' and they're advertising it that way."

The other lesson Miranda teaches is that one bag won't do; to be truly powerful, you need a wardrobe of bags.

Tant has four designer bags for everyday use that she changes according to her mood and what she's wearing. "It helps you keep your contents current and clean, because otherwise your bag becomes like the inside of your car," she laughs. "If you have one bag that you never change and never clean out, you know you'll find an old piece of gum at the bottom of it."

We can't all afford a designer bag, but that doesn't mean we can't find something affordable that will polish our image. The most important thing is to make sure it will function in the way you need it to, Tant says.

Are there pockets for your cellphone and other must-haves? Will it hold everything you need to carry in a way that it's all easy to find?

Does it suit your body? "If you get somebody who is very petite carrying a huge bag, it's going to look ridiculous," says Tant. "I'm taller, so I can have a bag that's bigger and it doesn't overwhelm me."

Try to find something in quality leather with no soft spots ("that's where it could tear") and look for strong hardware. "Look at how it's put together. Do the zippers close properly? Do the clips shut with a good strong click? How flimsy is it?"

And buy something that reflects who you are, advises Tant. "The bigger, more structured bags (in style right now) are making more of a statement -- that you're organized, you're professional -- however you want to come across."