It occurred to me earlier this year, while working on a monthly edition about slowed-down fashion, that ‘classic’ has become a category of its own. Let me explain what I mean.
At Fall and Winter collection previews this year, I saw various new yet familiar bags. What you might call a flap bag, a box bag, et cetera.
Basically, these were: structured boxes/rectangles, often with rounded corners, with adjustable straps so you can wear them crossbody, on the shoulder, or held in the hand. These are, almost invariably, secured with a clasp on a flap. Inside: between one to three gusseted main compartments.
“This is our classic style” was how a brand representative introduced one of these designs. How could that be, I asked, when it has barely been on shelves for a full season? “Well, not classic in that way but a new classic.”
That way, of course, meaning enduring designs that brands produce regardless of seasons – what savvy shoppers and industry folk call the “permanent collection”.
Rather, these new designs aim to find a lasting place in your life. ‘Classic’ as it turns out is as much a descriptive quality as an aspirational one these days.
But there is a real upside. Because these bags are designed to look good regardless of the season, there’s a built-in timelessness to them. Not just in the clean lines and functionality – love a micro bag, but some days you want to bring more than five things out – but in the quality of the construction.
The high-end leathers these bags are usually made of – like box calf, silk calf and nappa lambskin – have a polished look that ages extremely well.
I brought up these thoughts recently with a friend who, as it happened, was looking for what they called a “forever” bag. Meaning, a classic design that wouldn’t feel dated (or even better, that would grow to look more desirable) a few years from now.
What fortuitous timing, then, that luxury brands and designers are on a similar wavelength. I suspect, too, that this is what a lot of shoppers are looking for these days. Novelty and opulence are great distractions, but things that are simply beautiful and well-made can also offer far more lasting pleasure. Here are a couple of good examples.