The classic, paper shopping bag is the sign of a successful shopping trip — its contents are always far more exciting than the bag itself. But in 2020, one brand put the shopping bag on the map as a veritable accessory: Telfar.
Affectionately dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin,” the Telfar shopping bag is made by the Brooklyn-based brand headed by Liberian-American Telfar Clemens. Seemingly overnight, the bag became a viral sensation, selling out within minutes with each new drop. Telfar even won the 2020 CFDA Accessories Designer of the Year Award for the bag.
Shopping bags are for everyone
While Telfar can be thanked for the sudden popularity of the shopping bag, the brand is no longer solo in this accessory category. As FW21 approaches, other brands to push this simple, sleek bag include Medea, a Milan-based label run by two sisters, Giulia and Camilla Venturini. The brand’s shopping bag has been spotted on the arm of big names, from Dev Hynes to Petra Collins. Medea frequently collaborates with artists and other up-and-coming brands including Kiko Kostadinov and Peter Do.
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FW21 can thank 2020 for its top accessory
But why is the shopping bag suddenly so sought-after? Strangely, the pandemic has a lot to do with it. During a year when night-out handbags and statement purses are collecting dust in the back of our closets, the shopping bag has become the perfect alternative going into FW21. It’s simple design and large volume lends itself well to toting around all sorts of essentials, from wallets to books to hand sanitizer.
Furthermore, the social movements among younger consumers throughout the course of 2020 coincide with what the shopping bag represents. Telfar’s bags are incredibly affordable when compared to other designer bags, ranging from 140€ to 250€. And a label headed by a young African-American designer is something the fashion industry has not historically welcomed with open arms, so younger generations are glad to see such a change. In Vogue’s words, “People are crazy for the bag because it embodies more than just a fashion statement: it stands for inclusivity.”
The shopping bag’s genderless appeal and simple shape has become a symbol of youth power and inclusivity in the fashion space. A quick look at Instagram says enough about the popularity of the shopping bag: as we look forward to Fall/Winter 2021, we predict the trend of shopping bags will only grow in desirability.