Trend Watch: Handbag Falloff Means Opportunity with Women Self-Purchasers

Last June, my Jewelry Savvy co-author Caroline Stanley posted in this blog some thoughts about the customer carrying a designer handbag: “Pay attention to her handbag. If it’s a nice one and she bought it herself, she’s likely to be more receptive to better goods. . . Handbags are one clue to a woman’s shopping habits. If your potential customer is wearing a nice one, ask her about it. If you’re not sure, ask anyway and see if she drops an expensive name.” 


With that blog entry in mind, I found it interesting to read the Los Angeles Times’ article “From ‘It’ to Obit” published on January 20, 2008, pronouncing “The status handbag, once a must-have among the fashion set, is dead—and not from natural causes.” Times staff writer Monica Corcoran writes of the suspicion among fashion authorities that one particular bag, the Yves St. Laurent “Muse,” is “mostly responsible for wiping out the trend of women coveting one brand of designer bag ad nauseam.”


How so? Through over-exposure and lack of exclusivity. The newest grey felt version of the Muse, writes Corcoran, “was last seen sheepishly lurking on discount retailer” priced at 20% off. I checked, and it is indeed there, reduced in price from $1,295 to $1,036. 

     Yves St. Laurent’s “Muse” bag, for sale on


Corcoran quotes Milton Pedraza of the Luxury Institute: “There’s a backlash because women feel betrayed by the fact that a company calls a bag ‘limited edition’ and then makes 100,000 of them.” Writes Corcoran: “The Muse’s noxious ubiquity has spurred the most fashionable women to stray from the retail herd mentality. A purse touted as the next ‘it’ bag holds as much cachet as a VIP Blockbuster membership.”


While a woman’s preference for quality handbags isn’t likely to lessen, when she’s not driven to purchase every new “it” bag, there’s some serious disposable income now available for a different self-purchase. With what might she treat herself, now that bags just don’t excite her the way they used to? Might jewelry entice her?


If you haven’t looked at it recently, do go back and re-read Editor-in-Chief Hedda Schupak’s wonderful editorial about women self-purchasers, “Too Big to Ignore,” from December 2005. Some of your luxury goods competition has shot itself in the foot. Carpe diem. There’s no time like the present.

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