Matches Fashion Is Selling A $440 Paper Shopping Bag & Here's What It Means

Photo Courtesy of @matchesfashion
You spent $6 on a box of water last week at Soul Cycle because the shame of buying plastic after forgetting your Swell at home was too much to handle. Your new $1000+ mattress contains no wool because the barista who makes your Oatly lattes in the morning said that you’re not really vegan unless your bed is vegan, too. And you just put in an order for $45 face cream that’s derived only from plant-based materials… before you found out that the company delivers their travel-size bottles in a cardboard box fit for a pair of thigh high boots.
Suffice to say, saving the planet’s not always straightforward… nor is it cheap. So, when an ad promoting a reusable shopping bag, made of biodegradable paper fibers and 100% organic cotton, popped up on your Instagram feed this morning, it was a wink from the universe that was hard to ignore. Sustainability comes at a price, it seems, and it's somewhere around $440.
Putting a tongue-in-cheek spin on sustainability, these paper totes make up three of Stefan Cooke's 18-piece exclusive handbag collection for After all, these $440 bags resemble the grocery bag you paid a nickel for after forgetting your reusable bag. But for the London-based brand — which has become known for taking what's traditionally regarded as boring and giving it an avant-garde twist — these bags say a little more than just, "Do you need a bag today?" And with a rap sheet that includes assisting John Galliano (pre-Margiela), getting short-listed for the LVMH Prize, and winning the H&M Design Award, we'd be wise to listen up.
So here's what we know: Cooke, alongside his partner in life and design, Jake Burt, are breathing new life into the boring items around us. They're sourcing and modernizing accessories from the past and re-selling them at luxury prices (an eco-friendly alternative to producing something new). And now, they're printing those exact vintage handbags on a reusable grocery bag and marking them for a mere $69 (nice) less than the actual purses that inspired them. So what? Is this all part of an elaborate plan to get people thinking about sustainability, or is Stefan Cooke just messing with the kind of suckers who buy $6 water boxes?
Either way, what Stefan Cooke is doing is working. Scrolling down from the original Instagram post, you'll discover a chorus of positive commenters (something we didn't even know existed these days), many of them vowing to purchase these shopping bags ASAP. Which, if you’ve ever listened to the peanut gallery on a luxury fashion site before, is as rare as a plastic bottle at my 7am Soul Cycle class.

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