Tracing the trend
Running parallel to the current surrealist fashion trend is the consumer penchant for novelty designer handbags. According to fashion editor Kristen Bateman, writing in Elle, “Lately, fashion is being filtered through an absurdist lens, and in a world that seems to have hit peak luxury, nothing feels more joyful than wearing a bag that doesn’t take itself so seriously”.
Judith Leiber – the godmother of the novelty bag
It’s a trend that can be traced back to the 1960s, when Hungarian refugee Judith Leiber founded a handbag company in the U.S. In 1967 she began producing tiny crystal covered metal clutches Leiber passed away in 2018 but her company lives on and her Swarovski crystal covered novelty minaudieres are more popular than ever.
Moschino’s Pill Pack Crossbody Bag 2017
During Moschino’s ss17 runway show, Jeremy Scott showed a silver crossbody bag embellished with a blister pack of red and yellow capsules. It was an instant retail success that has continued to this day on resale sites
Gucci x Mickey Mouse 2019
Many in the audience of the Gucci ss19 show were surprised to see a model carrying a bag shaped like the head of Mickey Mouse. Considering the current dispute between Disney and the governor of Florida, it now seems like a prescient alliance. Like the Moschino pill pack bag, the Mickey Mouse x Gucci collaboration is still popular on the resale sites.
Louis Vuitton 2022
Virgil Abloh’s final show for Louis Vuitton menswear included bags shaped like paint cans.
During the Pandemic years consumers turned to carrying practical no-name totes and simple cloth bags. The runway collections shown since, prove that the consumer appetite for whimsical clutches, satchels and crossbodies has returned. The trend culminated with ‘Carrie Bradshaw’ carrying the pigeon clutch from JW Anderson in the hit HBO show ‘And Just Like That.’ Anderson had shown the bag in his menswear collection for fw22.
Novelty bags on the fw23 runways
Thom Browne fw23
Browne showed his famous black leather ‘Hector’ bag with a clock in the side (main photo) as well as a satchel shaped like a clock.
Victoria Tomas fw23
The designers showed a crossbody bag shaped like a perfume bottle in a silver leather holder.
From Daniel Roseberry, a black handheld square bag with eyes, nose and mouth in gold on two sides.
Jeremy Scott showed a purple heart shape bag with biker jacket detailing
Novelt y bags at resale retail
Novelty designer bags on re-sale website Poshmark are so desirable they sell for a high percentage of the original price. Chloe Baffert, the site’s merchandising and curation expert explains why: "Surrealism and artful fashion are having a real moment right now. It's hard to scroll through social media without catching a glimpse of Loewe's 3D anthurium florals or a gold anatomy adorned Schiaparelli outfit. Designer novelty bags take it one step further and are a collectable status symbol in their own right. They appeal to a niche, yet growing, cohort of consumers who are willing to spend on these unique bags. To some, a Judith Leiber bag is more covetable than a Hermès ‘Himalaya’ Birkin, it's less obvious and more of a fashion lovers inside joke that's sure to spark conversation."