The Washington Post published an article yesterday that, for me, explains why I feel so many people are buying handmade items more now than they have in years past. The article titled, "Why Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada are in Trouble" by Sarah Halzack, discusses why people who can afford luxury brand handbags are moving away from buying these items because the logos tell people exactly how much they paid for them. People, according to the article, also feel that "personal taste and individuality - not conformity - are the ultimate badges of cool."
Although I don't think I know anyone who owns a $5,500 handbag by one of these luxury designers, I see a lot of women wearing what I consider high-priced handbags whenever I am out and about. I admit it, now that I make and sell handbags, I can't help but to look at what handbags women are carrying everywhere I go. I have wondered recently if anyone else does this, and if so, are they bothered by the fact that there are A LOT of women carrying the same handbag? The color may be different, or there might be the slight change in style, but this hardly goes with what the article says is now the growing trend, "wealthy shoppers, experts say, who prefer to shell out for unique and hard-to-find pieces instead of highly recognizable handbags from big-name brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada." I will have to say, the handbags that I most enjoy seeing women wear aren't the ones that look like the same bag every other woman standing in the line at Costco has, but instead the bag that lets me know a little bit about the personality and style of the wearer. I personally am not impressed by the brand name and the price someone paid for a bag, but I love knowing that those who don't carry the big name bag, may care more about their individuality, the quality of the product they carry (news flash - expensive bags do not always mean high quality bags), or just the functionality of their bag. The Washington Post article states, when talking about some lower-priced niche brands, that these brands are "still pricey enough to appeal to affluent consumers who want something that feels distinctive and has a halo of great craftsmanship." Although the "niche brands" they mention are still out of my price range, I think the sentiment holds even with those who buy the "cheaper" luxury brands like Coach, Michael Kors, Kate Spade, and even Vera Bradley - those brands aren't distinctive if everyone is carrying them.
Of course, I am sure you may be thinking that I am biased in this in that I am hoping to drum up more business for myself, and to some degree, yes I am, but not for the reasons you may be thinking. I am actually hoping that, as the fashion trends continue to move away from everyone carrying essentially the same high price bag, that women will look toward handcrafted items as an alternative. Many handcrafted items have the great craftsmanship that women desire without the exorbitant price tag to go with it. Handcrafted items are usually unique as well, very few people who make handbags or other handmade items want to use the exact same materials again and again to make the exact same item - that is boring! Those of us who make bags, love the creative process and many are willing to work with customers to make your ideas of what you want for a bag a reality. You want it larger with more pockets, a longer strap so it can be worn as a cross-body bag, with leather trim - sure, we want to please our customers and give them a unique bag that is theirs and theirs alone. Try asking one of the high-priced, brand name handbag designers to make your bag the way you want it, it just isn't going to happen.
So I ask, as the style moves away from carrying bags with the "right" label and toward unique, high-quality, individualized handbags, please consider looking at some of the shops on Etsy to see what you find. Yes, I am telling you to look beyond my Etsy shop and check out other Etsy shops as well. You may find exactly what you want in my shop, but if not, I would be surprised if you couldn't find a perfect bag, handmade just for you in one of the other shops that sells handbags on Etsy. Then, when someone asks where you bought such a fabulous bag, you can proudly say "It was handcrafted just for me by a someone who put a lot of care and love into making it just right, and they could make you one that fits your style and personality too!" One more selfish reason that I love this new trend - I am tired of looking at the same handbags over and over and over again!!! ;)
If you would like to read the Washington Post article that I used to write this post, here is the link: "Why Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Prada are in Trouble" by Sarah Halzack, June 15, 2015