Fashion has a reputation for erring on the side of extreme.
When it decides that the Bardot is the neckline du jour, clavicles are exposed across the capital. When it commands that sleeves should be statement, shoulders puff and hands vanish accordingly.
And for several seasons now, the fashion gods have dictated that its most faithful followers swap their sensible-sized replica handbags for pouches barely big enough to fit an iPhone and an Amex card. And we have dutifully listened.
At Selfridges’ huge accessories hall, mini bags make up a colossal two- thirds of all sales. “The mini bag is now the most popular style we sell, and we have hundreds of options in store,” says Eleanor Robinson, director of accessories. “I think women love them because they feel more special than larger, practical styles. A mini bag is just right to hold your essentials rather than being weighed down carrying more than you really need.
If you’re wondering what constitutes a mini bag, Selfridges counts a height and width between 10-15cm and a depth of 8-13cm as ideal dimensions. Think smaller than a cross-body but bigger than a purse, with space to fit your iPhone, keys, a bank card and perhaps a lipstick, at a push. Among its current bestsellers is J.W.Anderson’s Mini Pierce replica mulberry bag and Stella McCartney’s Baby Bella, while summer’s fastest- selling mini bag is the half-moon Nile by Chloe. “We sold out of all styles and colours in four weeks,” adds Robinson, and in June the store launched a Chloe pop-up shop in its accessories hall dedicated to the style.
This month, Roland Mouret also embraces the micro-bag movement, shrinking his signature Classico Bag down to more diminutive proportions, while cult New York label Mansur Gavriel has added three sunny new colourways to its palm-sized Baby Bucket Bag offering. Clearly, small replica bags are big business.
But in line with being extreme, fashion also has a habit of contradicting itself. At the opposite end of the spectrum, bags large enough to comfortably accommodate your kitchen sink are also proving to be a hit this season. It began with Balenciaga’s striped leather shopper, a bag so sought- after that hordes of fashion students began ransacking laundrettes and market stalls up and down the East End in search of plastic replicas.
High-street purveyor of practicality COS was hot on its heels with its giant red-and-white striped canvas shopper which has proved popular with packhorses and day-trippers alike, while eagle-eyed shoppers may have already spotted that Mango’s spacious monochrome XXL leather shopper is set to hit stores in a new rainbow-striped incarnation this autumn.
Not to be outdone, Balenciaga’s creative director Demna Gvasalia has given stylish hoarders something else to covet next season in the form of similarly supersized sacks crafted from leopard print fur, marabou feathers and polka dot silk.