Not too long ago, when the blogs and magazines proclaimed the Jil Sander S/S 11 Acetate Market Bag (and its various incarnations in silk-twill and leather) "The anti-It-bag bag!"..."Understated glamour!"..."A brilliant idea!"...la-dee-la-dee-dah..., I went "Bah".
I think it IS a brilliant idea (I love it when fashion makes a cheeky statement) but it's not new and I couldn't help feeling bah-some for the designers who were there first, with the same idea and the goods, years before the Jil Sander version bagged all the accolades. I hate it when good work is not recognised so here's credit to the lesser-known trailblazers (these are the only two that I know of...I'm sure there are more out there)...
The swallow-print bag that you see above is one of many projects by Homespun, a Singaporean company owned by a pal of mine. Homespun helps young designers with big ideas and small production budgets find local makers/craftspeople with the right skills to transform those ideas into products. For an affordable price.
My bag is made from recycled tarpaulin adverting banner. Sewn by crafty old ladies residing in a retirement home, from patterns cut by patients in a mental health institution. It was given to me in late 2007/early 2008.
Slow and Steady Wins The Race
Slow and Steady Wins the Race is "a conceptual clothing and accessory line that reinterprets the classical everyday wardrobe. It is built on the belief that high design can be, and should be, accessible to all." If you have already clicked on the "cheeky statement" link a few paragraphs ago, you would know how much I love what Slow and Steady Wins The Race is all about and the few pieces from their collections that I'm lucky to own.
Image from here
So, their version of the plastic grocery bag is called the Bodega Bag. Available in black leather or chestnut lambskin.
I can't remember the exact year that it was released but I know it was waaaay before Jil Sander's because Poochie, my "personal shopper" in Singapore, saw it at a sale and called to ask if I wanted one. I said "no". As much as I love the idea behind the bag, I knew I won't get much use out of it (I didn't with the Homespun one) because I'm a bag-over-shoulder like-to-have-my-hands-free kind of girl (clutches don't count!).
So, there you have it. Those that came before. A round of applause, please, for these unsung heroes.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not dissing Raf Simons for not being original. I have always loved what he does. From his own menswear line to his collections for Jil Sander, there's always something new and exciting every season. And I have him (or do they have an accessories designer at Jil Sander?) to thank for this...
They came up with this brilliant idea of a belt/strap thing that can be attached to the handles of the Market Bag for it to be carried on the shoulder.
I've found a new use for my leather double cuffs! Which I wear as a dog collar sometimes as well. My Homespun bag will now hopefully get used more.
And I would have said "YES!" to Poochie to grab the Slow and Steady Bodega Bag if I had been as clever as the Jil Sander folks and thought of this earlier. I don't know why I didn't because I've seen old ladies at markets in Singapore attaching colourful raffia the same way on their plastic bags to make it easier for them to carry heavy grocery home.