QUESTION: WHEN DID WE start accessorizing our accessories? More specifically, when did grown-up girls begin hanging fur puffballs and silvery status symbols from the handles of handbags?
Was it when we noticed all of our preteens bopping along with mini-teddy bears and My Little Ponys dangling from their backpacks? (There’s even a silvery charm in the shape of, yes, a backpack that can hang from a zipper pull on the real thing.)
Or maybe it was in 1995, when Christian Dior introduced “Miss Dior,” the elegant quilted-leather tote-style bag embellished with the letters D, I, O and R hanging from the top handle?
Let the fashion historians figure it out; I’m just here to point out that the trend has gone into overdrive. The latest entry into the toys-for-our-toys market is British designer Anya Hindmarch. Her collection of handbags for fall 2015 is inspired, her copywriters note, by “the lights, reflective surfaces and signage that you find on the motorway.”
Um, okay. But Hindmarch has gone one further: She has introduced a series of leather stickers–yes, like Post-it notes–in all sorts of pop-art shapes. Think updated Roy Lichtenstein: a round leather Smiley face, a speech bubble, a No Smoking symbol and, a personal favorite, a round sticker showing a human figure dropping something into a trash can–it’s called Keep Britain Tidy.
Hindmarch dutifully notes that the stickers are a collaboration with Charlotte Stockdale of Chaos Fashion and points out that the very sticky stickers are engineered to adhere to any surface, permanently. So, no second thoughts about that “Yes!” sticker, ya hear? And good grief, there’s even Tony the Tiger of Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes fame (no aging into Raisin Bran with Tony stuck to your wallet). As these things go, the sticker shock really isn’t so bad: The “Frosties Sticker” costs $75; but an Ebury leather shopper bag with a large Tony already in place will set you back $2,295.
Lest you think Hindmarch, who has boutiques in New York and Los Angeles in addition to being sold in high-end specialty stores, has wandered off the fashion reservation, her stickers have been a hit–and she has had 300,000 orders to prove it. In fact, she told the London-based Business of Fashion newsletter that going into their second season this fall, the stickers have generated $18.7 million in revenue.
Smiley, in silvery leather, costs $75; keeping Britain tidy, in olive-green leather, is $70. But that is just so much pocket change when compared with the fluffy ornaments offered by fur house Fendi and Louis Vuitton, the LV in the French luxury conglomerate LVMH.
The Vuitton charms are metallic dangles–sometimes the famous initials, sometimes teeny replicas of the iconic duffel. (See more on the opening page of this feature.)
But like Hindmarch, Fendi is more about personalization. It offers fox-fur puffs with your first initial rendered in fur. Or just looking like goofy birds (many of the bag charms are offshoots of the Fendi Bag Bugs bags, kinda the “angry birds” of the fashion world).
And why do we have this wealth of possibility, you ask? Were our Fendi baguettes and Chanel quilted-lambskin totes lonely? Did they feel unadorned and unloved? Once we collectively decided it was beneath us to have some designer or design collaborative’s initials all over our own possessions, did we suffer withdrawal? Is it a sign that, no matter how much we all complain, we simply have more money than we know what to do with?
Actually, if the last is true, it’s a comforting thought. Otherwise we’ve all just gone mad–even though I gotta admit they’re kinda fun. Maybe I just need time to get used to these new appendages. And maybe Anya Hindmarch’s excellent new adventure just gave new meaning to the term “sticker shock.”