Sunday, December 16, 2007

Trendspotting: Shopping bags - A new fashion?

This winter shopping season, you may have noticed the impressive quantity of strongly-branded shopping bags around the city. It is not suprising that with a potential retail squeeze coming after the new year, that retailers are jockeying for high sales figures during the holidays.

The New York Times had a very interesting article about these shopping bags and the idea behind this trend.

A team of designers at Saks Fifth Avenue envisioned “a piece of modern art” and hired a renowned graphic artist to create it. Their counterparts at Lord & Taylor demanded five prototypes, even traveling to a Korean factory to oversee manufacturing.

Bags designed by David Lipman. Lord & Taylor pays 80 cents for each.

Over at Bergdorf Goodman, staff members held secretive deliberations that stretched late into the night for nine months.

The focus of all this scurrying was not this fall’s couture line or next spring’s resort collection.

It was shopping bags.

Once a flimsy afterthought in American retailing — used to lug a purchase home from the store, then tossed into the trash — the lowly, free store bag is undergoing a luxurious makeover.

From upscale emporiums to midprice chains, retailers are engaged in a heated competition to make the most durable, fashionable shopping bags. They are investing millions of dollars in new flourishes like plastic-coated paper (Macy’s and Juicy Couture) and heavy fabric cord handles (Abercrombie & Fitch and Scoop).

-NYT, Never Mind What’s in Them, Bags Are the Fashion (Full Article)

We thought that the shopping bags were a great momentum indicator into the holidays by simply walking down the street. We also noted that some retailers such as Nordstrom have been providing their customers with quality shopping bags for years!


trendoffice said...

Good point!

blakeley said...

This makes sense though because shopping bags represent status and loyalty. If you are a seventh grade girl you will probably be dragging your abercrombie and fitch bag every where you go or a rich-yoga-hippy mom lulu lemon is the obvious choice. I have personally been conscious of my bag choices, when i went into Barney's for the first time at their new seattle location, i made sure that i had several nordstrom bags on me, to show my allegiance to nordstrom.

Jeanna said...

You don't shop at a store because their shopping bags are nice. You shop there because it consistently has the items you like and want. I can't say I've ever used a shopping bag as a symbol of status or loyalty. Carrying a plastic "thank you" x6 bag or a Jeri Rice shopping bag is the same to me. While I appreciate an aesthetically pleasing shopping bag, I don't really care what they look like as long as they're comfortable to carry and sturdy enough to last the entire shopping trip. I do like that they're using better materials because I tend to keep the more durable bags incase I need to reuse them for something. My giant LV shopping bag was great for moving a small bookcase-full of books, but it's size makes it useless for pretty much anything else.

Instead of investing so much money on shopping bags that will ultimately end up as trash, maybe retailers should make reusable canvas bags available for their frequent shoppers. Sway and Cake gave me a small tote along with an incentive to take it on all my shopping trips downtown or in Bellevue. They give me a 5% discount for using the tote and I usually don't buy enough at that store to need another shopping bag (yay for saving the environment!). People would probably buy such totes too (especially if the retailer teamed up with a notable designer) because it would show loyalty and they'd be going "green" (another trend). Just look at the popularity of Anya Hindmarch's "I'm not a plastic bag" canvas tote!