When Beyoncé tells you she exiles her Birkin bags to storage, you listen. “That imported Telfar bag, Birkins, that stash shit,” she repeats on “Summer Renaissance,” the final song on her dance-infused album. Renaissance (2022). The Hermès Birkin, which is notoriously difficult to obtain, and which is notoriously one of the most expensive bags in the world, has become the symbol of a certain level of wealth that charters private jets with a fund manager on speed dial .
Like most things Beyoncé-related tend to do, such a strong stance on the Birkin bag has split the internet, with some agreeing they’ve moved past idolatry and oversaturation of Birkins while others insist on her credibility. timeless. But it’s also worth noting that in the lyrics, it’s not another glitzy designer who’s supposed to have supplanted the $10,000 Birkin, but rather a $200 Telfar bag.
While the lyrics may be a joke, it signals something bigger going on in the world of luxury: a growing embrace of the obscenely exorbitant to a more “modest” form of luxury. And leading the way is a burgeoning circuit of brands designing bags that embody the quality construction of its more expensive counterparts, but at around half the cost. Thoughtfully crafted, this class of mid-range luxury bag differs from the affordable leather bags that propelled its predecessors like Coach decades ago. With whimsical shapes and elevated designs, these bags feel almost bespoke – the quality virtually indistinguishable from those emblazoned with a shiny big-name logo.
While high-end luxury is still a booming business, conglomerates like LVMH and Kering post strong profits each year, to the tune of $86 billion in the case of LVMH according to a report 2022— the aspirational it bag moves to the low end. Spending the equivalent of a rent check isn’t the goal here, and the runaway success of designs like Staud Moon Bag And The Billy bag from ByFar showed that a $400 bag can be just as coveted and can galvanize a high-profile celebrity clan just as well as a $4,000 bag. “These brands follow trends and make it easier to diversify and upgrade my wardrobe more often than if I invested in an expensive luxury accessory,” says Caroline Maguire, fashion director at Shopbop. “They make luxury more accessible.”
TikTok has, in part, fueled the fire. After a series of viral videos Endorsing its quality over other well-known luxury bags, French accessories brand Polène went from an unknown brand to an It brand almost overnight. But Polène is just one of many names to follow this “getting more for less” route to mainstream relevance. The brands below are dismantling the status quo of luxury as unattainable. From Paris to London via Seoul, meet the names that glamorize the mid-range bag:
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