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On the runway, bags are adorned with charms and intentionally designed to look like they’ve been through a lot. Because for some fashion enthusiasts, a worn look is more chic than brand new leather.
Jane Birkin loved her “Birkin Bag”, the Hermès bag that bears her name. But she didn’t take much care of them. Numerous photos show that the actress, who died this year, regularly filled her model and dragged it around like a loaded supermarket bag. She also loved to personalize her accessory, decorating it with chains and stickers. For her, the bag was a useful companion that had to withstand something and at the same time a reflection of her individuality, not a sublime luxury object that resides in a dust bag in the closet and has to sit on one’s stool in the restaurant.
A «Birkin bag» can easily cost several tens of thousands of francs – a reason to protect such an object as much as possible. But bags that look a little worn and are also personalized with little tags are actually a trend in themselves at the moment.
Trend towards personalisation
At Paris Fashion Week last October, some major brands advertised it. Huge leather shoulder bags were on display at Balenciaga, with visibly worn spots and keys, hearts and tassels hanging from the straps. Miuccia Prada gave her models in her show Miu Miu bags from which shoes and clothes peeked out. There were also chains, knotted ropes and leather straps hanging, like souvenirs from the last festival that you don’t want to throw away. And Schiaparelli also had a watch, a pencil and a gold chain attached to a bag, as if the inside had been inside out.
Such drawings are not a catwalk invention, but rather reflect what happens on the street: even children and teenagers connect their house keys to countless pendants and carry them around like a colorful bouquet of metal and plastic. Small stuffed animals hang from backpacks, ribbons woven into jute bags. The desire for customization starts early and even luxury brands want to take advantage of it. Several years ago, for example, Fendi had success with big-eyed fur figures to hang on bags.
Current designs also allude to the idea that an accessory is only truly special when it says something about the owner, and that every scratch and dent is not a flaw, but rather makes a piece look really cool. Especially if it is a particularly expensive luxury product. In online forums like Reddit, users rave about former child actress and entrepreneur Mary-Kate Olsen, who is often seen carrying a rather beat-up “Birkin bag.” Olsen has owned the bag for years, wears it on the street and on the red carpet, and clearly doesn’t care too much about whether or not the edges are scuffed.
The luxury accessories are also there to wear
This has already earned her plenty of praise from the fashion media, who think a worn luxury bag is better than a brand new one. No matter how difficult it is to get a Birkin bag, you often see it in the arms of visibly wealthy women and are constantly compared to it on social media. Thus it too becomes one of the many luxury products. However, the older and more worn she appears, the more history and adventures there is behind her, the more different she is from the others. A bag inherited from your grandmother is a status symbol that impresses some fashion enthusiasts more than the newest item from the boutique.
It is therefore no wonder that some labels try to imitate the look or present their accessories as if they were the personal piece of someone who has already experienced a lot. The trend has a positive side effect: It reminds us that luxury accessories are ultimately there to be worn. The more you see it, the better. Then the investment was really worth it.