While the leading fashion brands pour enormous budgets into accessory R&D, attempting to create the latest “It” bag or shoe, a new wave of designers continues to rise with little more than a few samples, an Instagram account and a hunch.
The trend for Instagram-native accessories brands priced under $1,000 is likely to only strengthen in 2019 as an increasing number of creative types feel emboldened to break into the market. Numerous such brands found success last year, from Susan Alexandra’s sold-out range of beaded bags to Emily Levine Milan’s sustainable brand of bags and jewelry made in India. There were also new “It” styles, like Staud’s PVC ‘Mini Shirley’ bag and Ganni’s updated cowboy boots. Now, new players are on the rise, such as satin bag label Home of Hai and Miami-based jewelry brand NST.
The lightning speed of social media sees Instagram-native brands reach “It” success with a single design in a short time frame, while their lean operations means they can quickly churn out a follow-up design.
Because of the rise of these brands and other factors, luxury labels may find it increasingly challenging to command consumer attention with bags priced in the four-figure range.
Asked about the “It” bag market, industry consultant Robert Burke told WWD: “The market is more complicated and competitive than it’s ever been. It’s more challenging than ever to get to ‘It’ bag status in high luxury. When you start thinking about $3,000 or $4,000, the customer is very selective and thoughtful in how they spend money today, no matter how much money they have.”
Burke said the resale market has driven business away from first-tier luxury, as well as the continued success of the mid-tier contemporary market. “Mansur Gavriel, Wandler, Jacquemus, Boyy, Hunting Season — they have done a fantastic job of bags at an affordable price. They are not luxury prices and certainly not an opening price but they offer fashion and luxury to the consumer as an alternative to buying a major marquee brand,” he said.
“These bags are very distinctive, very Instagrammable and for many of the consumers they satisfy a need for an updated fashion bag. For that, the market has become very competitive,” Burke opined.