Twitter has a funny way of making friends out of total strangers, but it nearly had the opposite effect for DKNY PR Girl, the firm’s Twitter personality, and Bag Snob, the popular blog that reviews high-end handbags, created by Tina Craig and Kelly Cook.
This story first appeared in the May 16, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
In May 2009, Craig tweeted that Donna Karan’s Eldridge bag, for sale on Saks.com, “looked like a sea creature.” DKNY PR Girl defended the brand by posting: “Haven’t you ever taken a bad picture?”
From there, a conversation developed, and Karan’s team sent Bag Snob the Eldridge to review, along with a few other Donna Karan bags. “When I saw the bag in person, it was completely different,” recalls Craig. A few months later, she and Cook met Donna Karan herself at a Neiman Marcus trunk show in Dallas, where the bloggers began dreaming up a collaboration. Soon thereafter, the duo approached DKNY and — just like that — Bag Snob’s first handbag collection was born. Named Bag Snob X DKNY, the five-piece lineup hits stores in October; Facebook fans of DKNY can pre-reserve the bags now through June.
Based on Bag Snobs’ “5 Essentials” category, in which the bloggers call on various industry types to name their five must-have bags, the new collection includes the Tote (retail: $495), a rectangular shape with side pockets; the Travel ($565), a horseshoe shape with zip-down side compartments with mirror slots; the Trendy ($325), a small leopard print bag that can be worn three ways; the Clutch ($265), a sequined flap wristlet, and the Treasure ($365), a style done in a leather color block pattern with an embossed croc flap.
“This was a dream come true,” Cook says, noting that the experience also humbled them as bags critics. “Before, we didn’t realize all the construction and production that goes into a bag.”
As far as the design process goes, the pair presented their inspiration boards to Jane Chung, executive vice president of DKNY design, who offered some color and fabric direction, and the firm’s production team assisted with the practical aspects, “Like, you can’t put light bulbs and diamonds inside your bags — too heavy,” says Craig with a laugh. But other than that, the Bag Snob women had complete design freedom.
According to Patti Cohen, executive vice president of global marketing and communications for Donna Karan International, “Over the past two years our relationship [with Bag Snob] has grown, resulting in a collaboration that allows us to combine their sensibility with DKNY’s style and accessibility. Our social media presence has allowed us to widen the scope from which we connect with people and draw inspiration.”
Craig and Cook confirmed that DKNY paid them a design consultancy fee, which they are not at liberty to reveal. Which of course brings up the point of conflict of interest. How can they objectively review bags if they’re receiving a cut?
“We will still give a bag we don’t like a bad review,” notes Craig. “All the brands will have a bag that’s less than stellar…but it is still important for the blog’s integrity to post what we think.” Cook, for instance, recently reviewed Diane von Furstenberg’s Piper bag, saying it “looked like a stuffed chicken.” Still, Bag Snob later hosted an event at von Furstenberg’s Dallas store, where the designer donated a bag to the site’s monthly giveaway.
Craig and Cook, who met while attending USC’s business school, were obsessed with handbags long before they created their blog six years ago. “We used to tell our parents that we received a Prada bag from the other as a gift,” mused Cook. “Following a Chinese custom to save face, your gift in return must be equally in line. They didn’t realize we really just bought ourselves a bag!”
And, of course, now they’re hooked, and hope Bag Snob X DKNY is just the first of many collaborations to come. “Our goal is to do a new one every year,” says Craig. “I have a list started — we could do this for the next 30 years.”