By  on July 19, 2007

NEW YORK — Not even thunder, lighting or two inches of rain could dampen Anya Hindmarch's "I'm Not A Plastic Bag" mania Wednesday.

The British designer released another 20,000 limited edition reusable shopping totes to 15 Whole Foods Market locations in the Tristate area, resulting in lines that snaked around the outside of stores despite nature's onslaught.

The latest version in white canvas with blue lettering sold for $15 and was limited to three per person.

It recently caused such a frenzy in Southeast Asia that Hindmarch canceled similar events because she feared for customers' safety. Here, sisters Irene and Nino Rekhviashvili and Ting Wang were among the intrepid shoppers who braved the storm and the crowd in Union Square. The trio, who appeared to be without umbrellas, claimed to be undeterred by the weather. "We were under the scaffolding for a while anyway," said Irene Rekhviashvili.

"I'm going to keep one and sell the rest," said a hopeful Wang, who had heard about the bag's two previous runs, the first in the U.K. in March and the second at Hindmarch's New York and Los Angeles stores last month, through a friend. "I've seen it on eBay, so I know it's a good investment."

"I can't believe it," said Laura Klabal, who first spotted the bag on the arm of Christy Turlington at a recent party and decided she must have one. "I don't really stand in line for anything." She stood, but swore she would leave if the wait was more than 30 minutes.

The bag, it seems, is apparently weather resistant. Last Saturday, a similarly inclement situation took place at the sale in Japan. "It was literally a typhoon," said Hindmarch, who witnessed Wednesday's madness firsthand from Whole Foods' Houston Street location, where the first customer queued up at 7 p.m. Tuesday. "So it's an interesting lesson in environmental studies."

Even if the goods get marked up on eBay, where some sellers were asking as much as $250 on Wednesday afternoon, Hindmarch was pleased. "It's all good because this whole project is about awareness," she said. "Through eBay, it actually ends up with the bag being much talked about and much worn, and subliminally, it's a billboard that brainwashes people into changing how they behave."Wednesday looked to be another success. Whole Foods doors opened at 8 a.m. and two hours later all locations had sold out, leaving many, Klabal included, empty-handed. Those who managed to get their hands on the tote carried it out victoriously — and ironically — in a plastic bag.

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