Tag : history-of-bags

The iconic Birkin Bag

There are many types of bags of which you can choose from. Big, small, handbag, shoulderbag, backpack, the list goes on and on. But sometimes there are bags that transcend the concept of a bag and become more than that. They become a symbol of status, a fashion musthave and a way you can show you belong to an elite group of people. Bags like that are the black Chanel bags with a chain instead of a leather strap or the brown Louis Vuitton bags with the logo that covers the bags. But in that list there is one bag that all women who love fashion have on their ultimate wishlist; the Hermes Birkin bag.

In 1981 chief-executive Jean Louis Dumas of Hermes was sitting next to famous actress and singer Jane Birkin. Dumas saw how Jane was struggling with her straw bag. Jane explained how hard it was to find a fine leather bag that was big enough for all her stuff. This inspired Dumas to create the Birkin Bag. Funny fact: Jane Birkin later said that she really likes the bag but that it is to heavy to carry on one shoulder. Nevertheless women all over the world fell in love with the bag and there are actual waiting lists. A few years back you had to wait over six years before a Birkin Bag was available for purchase. The bags are handmade in France and come in a wide range of sizes and colors. Victoria Beckham is believed to own a collection of Birkin bags that are worth more than a million pounds.  If you want to purchase a Birkin bag, keep in mind that prices start around 6500 US dollars. This is a lot of money but if you do buy one you will own the most iconic bag in the world.

The history of bags

In recent decades the bag has been portrayed as a fashionable accessory for storing women’s essential daily items. Just think about the popularity of the IT bag or the more economical tote bag. We are all very keen on showing off our individual style through our bags. However, the history of bags tells us that it has not always been like this.From the early days of their existence, the bag has been a functional accessory for both men and women. Paintings, prints and carpets from museums in Europe and archeological sites from all over the world have revealed that bags were already being used at least as early as the late Middle Ages. And long before that there was Ötzi the Iceman whose frozen body was found with a purse.

In the early days bags were primarily used for one specific purpose. Small purses made of soft fabric or leather were worn to carry coins. Sturdy leather bags were used for travelling on horseback. Bags were also used for gathering herbs or for the carrying of children. It was only later when people became more skilled in sewing and embroidery that bags were increasingly used as fashionable accessories.

In other words: bags have a rich history from which contemporary bag designers still draw their inspiration. Very few forms of bags have been developed that differ radically from earlier forms of bags. In fact, many forms of bags are being re-introduced in contemporary societies by studying the history of bags. The clutch is a good example of this dynamic. The clutch was quite popular in the 18th century and it was only recently that they became popular again.

If you are ever in Amsterdam then make sure to visit the bag museum (Tassenmuseum). Here you can learn more about the long and rich history of all kinds of bags.