The fashion world has been bracing for the return of extra large bags for a while now. But the spring 2023 runways, which confirmed their triumphant return to the trend cycle, begged the question: Why did supersized bags ever go away?
Ever since Kendall Jenner was photographed wearing a larger-than-torso Bottega Veneta shoulder bag back in 2021, I’ve asked myself the same question. For years, prior to the pandemic, handbags seemed to get smaller, more impractical, and just straight up ornamental. Think: Jacquemus’ cult Le Chiquito, a handbag so small it spurred an Internet debate after Lizzo posted a video of her taking a #2 pencil out of it in 2019.
Three years later, the runways have declared the shrinkage over. Take, for example, Bottega Veneta’s spring 2023 collection, which showcased oversized slouchy carryalls, Givenchy, which featured extra large shoulder bags with thick buckles, and Prada, which included work-ready structured totes. Even designers with signature mini bags are supersizing their offering. Case in point: Luar’s Ana bag got an XXL makeover for the brand’s spring 2023 collection.
While teensy bags enjoyed their moment of popularity, a series of social factors have actually pushed consumers and brands to put practicality first. Firstly, the COVID pandemic upended nightlife worldwide, leaving people with no use for impractical, tiny bags. Then, once restrictions loosened, our collective enjoyment of comfort, functionality, and versatility translated directly into the handbag trends.
Tote bags, in particular, have enjoyed an uptick in popularity over the past year, from the viral sensation of L.L.Bean’s tote bags – emblazoned with cheeky monograms such as “unhinged” or “psycho”, which has amassed over 70 million views on TikTok, to Marc Jacobs’ signature The Tote Bag model, which has become a trending item on TikTok with over 104 million views. On the luxury side, models like YSL’s Icare bag (pictured above), which has been worn by Zoë Kravitz and Hailey Bieber and was recently named by global fashion platform Lyst as the hottest product of 2022’s last quarter with a 46% spike in searches.
The secondhand market is also seeing this trend boom. “Space is the biggest factor to the oversized handbag trend, with customers fitting everything from laptops to lipsticks in a practical and stylish way,” says Elizabeth Layne, chief marketing officer of luxury resale destination Rebag. According to the platform, big handbags are one of the defining trends of 2023, with models like the Goyard Saint Louis tote and the YSL Icare bag being some of the most searched on their website, along with Chanel’s Deauville tote bag.
With the return of 2010s trends, which included bags like Saint Laurent’s Sac de Jour and Celine’s Micro Luggage, and a push for functional fashion amid economic downturn, it’s no surprise that oversized handbags are having a main character moment again. So, put your itty-bitty bags in storage, and let your inner Mary Poppins shine.
It’s time to keep calm and carry it all.
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