It looks like men are emptying their pockets to buy handbags — for themselves.
Bags are fast filling men’s wardrobes, evidenced by the last round of men’s shows in Europe, where the runways were chockablock with luxury handheld accessories, from sporty bags at Maison Martin Margiela and totes at Prada to new takes on the traditional briefcase at Bottega Veneta, laptop cases at Louis Vuitton and messenger bags at Dolce & Gabbana.
Claudia D’Arpizio, a Milan-based partner specializing in luxury and fashion at consulting firm Bain & Co., says men’s bags are a growth category, telling WWD in January that men’s accessories were considered a medium-term prospect.
Leading department stores are clearing floor space for dedicated men’s bags departments. Tancrède de Lalun, men’s and women’s fashion director for Printemps, says Printemps’ was the first department store to do so, dedicating its entire ground floor to men’s accessories in 2005. Printemps Homme carries brands such as Christian Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Yves Saint Laurent, Mulberry and Florian Denicourt, along with bags mixed into the designer offerings at Maison Martin Margiela, Balenciaga and Giorgio Armani, among others.
“The more prominent the presentation, the more the business grows,” says Tom Kalenderian, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of men’s wear for Barneys New York, adding the men’s bag department is a “calling card” for Barneys men’s stores. For fall, new lines at Barneys include the Eastpak by Rick Owens Collaboration collection as well as a debut line by New York-based Common Projects, who borrowed the aesthetic from their footwear collection.
Bergdorf Goodman set up its first dedicated men’s bags section a year ago, says Tommy Fazio, fashion director of Bergdorf Goodman Men.
For fall, the store offers a gamut of styles, from classic bags at Brioni and Brunello Cucinelli to more fashion-forward satchels at Bottega Veneta, as well as the Bergdorf’s signature tote.
Retailers say men are buying for specific purposes.
“Most men now have bags for business, bags for the gym and a city bag for the weekend,” Kalenderian says.
“You have to find the balance between a bag which is functional and a bag which is stylish,” adds Massimiliano Giornetti, men’s wear designer for Salvatore Ferragamo. For fall, Ferragamo will offer soft “but not deconstructed” lightweight bags in chic styles for work and sport.
But in some cases, form is still more important than function.
“When there is a compelling shape, men will buy it,” says Sam Lobban, men’s wear buyer for Selfridges, adding that messenger bags and satchels were bestsellers. For fall, Selfridges will offer bags by U.K. brand Billingham, Belgian designer Natalia Brilli and London-based Ally Capellino.
“Men like a bit of fantasy, but nothing too ostentatious,” says French designer Pierre Hardy. For fall, Hardy expects his leather “cartable” with a cubic print to be a favorite among style-savvy Parisians.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast