More Bag, Less Bank
So sometime last fall, the designer wonder duo behind Proenza Schouler, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough (you know, that dude whom Jack Bauer allegedly head-butted at the Met a few weeks ago), decided that their PS1 bag was going to the be next big thing—an it bag.
And the way they executed their plan?
They sent a bag to every mover and shaker in the fashion industry and in the public eye. That’s it.
Mary-Kate Olsen topped the sightings, then one of the Gossip Girls, followed by Kirsten Dunst. . . . It was the same marketing battle plan that Balenciaga had executed for their Lariat tote that’s still a sought-after item; they’re photographed everywhere, and by the time the bags are released to us plebeians, waiting lists were long and nearly impossible to even get on.
Not that the PS1 isn’t worthy of such praise: It really is the perfect bag. It can be transitioned from day to night, smoothly adjusting to skinny denim or full-length gowns. It plays off that all-important balance between femme and masculine with its timeless satchel shape and cross-body strap. But, of course, in addition to actually finding the bag, there’s the price tag, ranging from $895 to $4,250.
Is it okay to buy things again?
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Probably not. Not that I’m sure it was ever “okay” to drop more than four grand on a bag. But there are a few options for a similar look for much, much less. Sure, you’re not going to find python skin, but school bag-satchel styles are readily available and affordable.
The least expensive and most accessible choice is a vintage Coach bag. Yes, Coach. Though the label’s current evolutionary stage is, uh, questionable with its undying monogram print (in every! Color! Imaginable!) and tiny armpit-sized handbags that every gal at the mall owns, Coach was actually once known for its distinctly American leather goods. Comb eBay or vintage shops for their Metropolitan Brief, a style standard that Proenza Schouler was obviously trying to update, with its long shoulder strap, top handle, flap top and buckle closures. The Regina and Station bags are more petite versions of the Brief. All three rarely go for higher than $100. Bonus? Vintage leather boasts a look that just can’t be replicated—python or not.
If you’re looking for something a bit more refined and structured, the Cambridge Satchel Co. (cambridgesatchel.co.uk) offers authentic school satchels and batchels (a satchel with an added top handle!). The bags come in 11-inch (purse!), 13-inch, 14-inch (school bag!) and 15-inch (work bag!) sizes in six colors (pink, red, navy, dark brown, vintage chestnut brown and black) and range from $77 to $108. Really, it’s the type of all-occasion bag you’ve been scouring flea markets and vintage stores for for years and years, just sans that questionable old lady/cat odor.