The year was 2013. New York-based brand Mansur Gavriel had just launched its first-ever collection, a line of leather handbags that included a bucket bag. Despite its simple black-and-red, drawstring silhouette, the style was instantly spotted on the arms of bloggers and fashion insiders. Demand was so high that the designers Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel, both art school graduates with no fashion experience who met at a concert in 2010, couldn’t keep up production, prompting a waitlist. “The bucket bag [silhouette] has such a history,” says Mansur. “I think we interpreted it in a very modern way at the time.”
A decade later, the bag is still one of the best-selling in Masur Gavriel’s roster, which has since expanded to include a range of equally recognizable pieces like the M Frame, a clutch-shoulder hybrid that’s made to resemble an “M,” and the Cloud, a puffy clutch with a crossbody strap. (The brand also launched apparel in 2017, but has since stopped production.)
Though no longer considered new, the bucket bag’s popularity endures: Searches for “mansur gavriel bucket” have over 400 million views on TikTok and the bag continues to be endorsed by celebrities like Taylor Swift, Sarah Jessica Parker, Selena Gomez, and Katie Holmes. “It's a universal bag that feels both modern and classic,” says Mansur.
When the brand celebrated its 10-year anniversary in September with a presentation in New York’s SoHo neighborhood (that used to house the Mansur Gavriel store), it commemorated the milestone with a tower of black-and-red bucket bags. “As the business continues, we like to continue thinking about it as an icon that we highlight,” says Mansur.
While, in the 10 years since, the direct-to-consumer model has given rise to many of today’s darling handbag brands like Polène and Hereu, back then, the luxury bag market looked very different. In the early 2010s, names like Louis Vuitton's Neverfull and Celine’s Phoebe Philo-era Trapeze were the decade’s must-haves. But, following the recession, their four-figure price tags became increasingly hard for the everyday consumer to justify.
After noticing a lack of quality products that didn’t break the bank, Gavriel and Mansur introduced the $495 style (it has since risen to $695). The Mansur Gavriel bucket bag was the type of contemporary product that allowed people to get a quality fashion-forward good without dropping a month’s worth of rent. It also offered a minimalist, sleek answer to its flashier 2010s counterparts: the studded Balenciaga Motorcycle, the strappy Proenza Schouler PS1, and the padlock-adorned Chloe Paddington, to name a few. Moreover, the Mansur Gavriel bucket bag was designed to be constantly worn, with the leather purposefully adjusting to the wearer’s movements and usage, rather than left in the back of the closet for a special occasion. “We wanted something or the modern woman that you could carry [all the time],” says Mansur.
To keep up the novelty factor, the brand has reinvented the design over the past 10 years to keep up with the trends. It has previously been reworked into the “Lilium,” a leather bucket bag that features folded sides; “Champagne,” a taller and slimmer version of the original; and “Movimento,” which features a top handle. Earlier this year, the bucket bag also got a woven makeover, as well as one in apple leather, a vegan alternative. It has additionally been part of a collaboration with The Calder Foundation, which used motifs from the work of the late sculptor Alexander Calder. “We love animating it in different ways,” Mansur says.
It then makes sense that the bucket bag is one of the heroes of the brand’s anniversary collection, which brings back retired color combinations like the signature black-and-red, as well as new iterations that are specifically designed for the apple leather fabric, which Gavriel says “takes color really well.” She adds: “We played with contrast like we did in the beginning.”
Now that it’s 10 years old, its appeal is growing on a new generation that prioritizes the same consumer values Mansur Gavriel’s bucket bag helped establish. If the last 10 years are any indication, it's on its way to become a timeless classic.
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