The extent to which vintage fashion defines the present is not only evident from the fact that the trade in used luxury bags is booming, brands are also more frequently resorting to successful models from the past for new collections. Because what sold well a generation or two ago is now conquering the next generation of fashion consumers.
Classic and bestselling bags such as the Birkin, Kelly or Constance bags from Hermès or the quilted bag variant 2.55 from Chanel usually serve as models. New editions are either based on the original models or inspire bag series with updated details that correspond to today’s zeitgeist or are simply more practical to use. Karl Lagerfeld introduced a heart-shaped bag with a handle in his 1995 “Barbie Collection” for Chanel, which is now hugely sought after on vintage platforms and fetches five times the original price. His successor, Virginie Viard, launched a modified variant with a shoulder strap last year, which became an instant hit and has customers queuing in Chanel boutiques.
In many fashion houses today there are employees in the design team who not only deal with new designs, but also closely follow the development of the vintage market and buy back old models of the brand. And not just to complete the archives. They specifically study the design of the bag in order to bring it back into the ranges and collections as 1:1 as possible.
Celine has a whole line of bags and small leather goods with the name “Triomphe”. The clasp and pattern of the leather are formed from the branding, borrowed from the design of the chain that encircles the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. The entire series is identical to the one that made the house so successful in the 1960s and 1970s. Celine designer Hedi Slimane relies on these roots and is extremely successful with them.
In addition to the avant-garde line of the house with rubber boots and clutch bags made of techno material, Matthieu Blazy, the new creative director of Bottega Veneta, also relies on the new edition of old bag models: the braided leather bags that Tomas Meier used in the early 2000s Bottega introduced. The vintage models sell like hot cakes, and at the same conditions as the purchase price.
Perhaps the key to the success of the classics is the longing for good quality, sustainability and aesthetic timelessness. A well cared for saddle bag, created by iconic designer John Galliano for Dior in 1998, never loses value. Today, this bag is also part of Kim Jones’ men’s collection, as a tribute – and because it perfectly complements Jones’ contemporary designs with a nod to the House’s craftsmanship.
By reissuing classics, brands are nodding to their heritage while serving a growing market that just doesn’t have enough vintage classics. This closes a sustainable circle in which the luxury houses want to participate more and more.
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