Vera Bradley Is Back Like It Never Left
Like so many aughts brands, the quilted bag giant is enjoying a kick from TikTok popularity.
TikTok creator Sean Taylor took note of the first time she saw a Vera Bradley handbag pop up on her “For You” page. The paisley-printed, quilted style brought her back to high school, a time when low-rise jeans and tube tops reigned. “I feel like I was seeing a bunch of little things that I was wearing in sophomore English class,” she says. With hip bone-grazing denim and strapless styles already big with the TikTok crowd, Taylor figured Vera Bradley bags would be next to get cool again.
Turns out, she was right. On the app, searches for “Vera Bradley” have since grown to over 110 million views. It’s a cross-generational amalgamation of shoppers who never stopped wearing the brand — which was first launched in the 1980s and enjoyed mainstream popularity in the 2000s and 2010s when celebrities like Taylor Swift and Kelly Rutherford paraded their oversized totes — as well as a younger generation of users who were either too young to have one during the bag's heyday or are discovering them for the first time.
Caroline Lord, 24, remembers her elementary school Vera Bradley lunch box in the “Cupcakes Green” print. Among her friend circles, she says, Vera Bradley duffle bags were the “cool bag to have” at sleepover parties. “I have a love for the brand, as do most people my age,” says Lord.
Vera Bradley is just the latest brand from the early aughts to satisfy the nostalgic yearning of millennials and Gen Z on TikTok, following other '00s mall mainstays like Gap, J. Crew, and Banana Republic enjoying viral success. On TikTok, it has become popular for creators to show off vintage duffle bags from the brand, as well as share their memories associated with the bags. There’s even a two-part video series that guesses what your favorite Vera Bradley print says about you. (My personal favorites: Java Blue says “horse girl,” Blue Rhapsody was for dance class.)
“Vera Bradley is a nostalgic brand for many, especially those who associate core memories with our products,” Allison Hiatt, Vera Bradley’s chief marketing officer, tells Refinery29. “I think the rise in popularity of our bags on social media stems from that nostalgic element and the timelessness of our products.” Lord shares this feeling: “I still have the lunchbox saved just because it was so precious to me.”
TikTok creator Jessica Britvich also saved her Vera Bradley bags. In one video, she calls her duffle bag “old faithful.” Now 30, Britvich recalls being introduced to the brand in middle school when girls wore the tote bags to carry their books. “Every year, that would be like the back-to-school thing, to get a new tote bag from Vera Bradley,” she says. Later, in college, the duffle bag started gaining traction, prompting Britvich to go back to Vera Bradley for the bag she still owns today: “Love or hate the patterns, they are good quality and can hold your life in there.”
Hiatt says that the brand’s core demographic at the moment is the 35 to 55 crowd, but that Vera Bradley considers itself a “cross-generational” company. And on TikTok, that’s exactly what’s brewing. Taylor, for example, says that her followers in their 30s and 40s, who used to prize the bags, have messaged her to say that their teenage daughters have put Vera Bradley bags on their Christmas wishlists.
It’s enough to make Taylor — once tepid about the comeback — search for vintage Vera Bradley bags on Poshmark. “I have my eye on a yellow and blue tote that comes with a matching mini bag,” she says. “I feel like that might be me.”
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