Two Rode Together

One of the oddest pairings this season is Fendi and Porter


Fendi X Porter AW 2019The Fendi X Porter Baguette (top) and Peekaboo (below). Photos: Fendi

There have been calls in recent years for less collaborations, but not many brands heed the recommendation. Two names, preferably poles apart, coming together for one purpose—hyped-up merchandise—don’t always yield desirable results. Examples are too numerous to warrant space here for honourable mention. Yet, so numerous and persistent have collaborations become that over-collaboration is more real than results with value and usefulness. Some brands exist on product collaboration, rather than product development. Collab fatigue has been reported, but that’s hardly a deterrent. Have we not heard enough of Supreme with this or that, yielding meaningless non-clothing products—shovel, just to name one? To paraphrase Andy Warhol, perhaps, fashion (not just art) is what you can get away with.

One of the most don’t-know-what-to-make-of-this collaborations this season is that of Fendi and Porter. By strange, we don’t mean weird, but as likely as Gucci teaming up with Goop—it could happen, but really shouldn’t. Fendi, which CNN calls “one of Italy’s most powerful and storied luxury fashion houses”, are already bag makers with their own bag-making unit, but this could be onward march for them to go more street, in tandem with many Italians brands play catch-up. It is, however, not the same for Porter, already an established and respectable name in Japan for bags that don’t count the hard attache case as chum.

It is possible that to the young, I’ll-buy-anything Fendi fan, the pairing does not really matter. Fendi could have collaborated with Anello (that would be irony making a comeback!), and they would rush to pre-order, which, in the case of Fendi X Porter, was available more than a month earlier, thus ensuring that the limited-edition bag shall be sold out when they eventually hit the store, unbeknown to the casual shopper.

Porter pop-up in TokyoIn the Porter Omotaesando, Tokyo store, an installation dedicated to the products from its collab with Fendi. Photo: Porter

In Tokyo, those who do not personally receive phone calls from their regular salesperson for pre-orders are a lot luckier than us, as Porter has set up what they call an “installation” at the brand’s Omotaesando store, showing the styles in all colours and sizes. When we arrived at Fendi at ION Orchard this morning, a very late two days after the bags became available, we were met by a sales girl who happily declared that the bags were “all sold out, except these two”, showing us the black Baguette and and gray Peekaboo with a capaciousness clearly created for men (later told to us by a Chanel collector that they are known as XLs), both still in their protective plastic bags, which were eventually removed for our inspection.

The bags have a familiar hand feel as they’re made of Porter’s signature nylon used in their popular Tanker series. And like the Tanker bags, the insides of these two come in contrast-coloured lining of orange, purportedly known as Indian Orange. The Peekaboo, less appealing to us, look like a work bag that won’t really be carried for work. More interesting was the Baguette. The original was introduced in 1997 and its extreme popularity lasted into the early 2000. The latest version we were holding is designed for men—a direction Dior took with its Saddle Bag. But guys do not have the tendency to carry bags under their upper arm, which was how creator of the Baguette, Silvia Venturini Fendi, saw women using the bag as if securing roti perancis (hence its name). The XL Baguette, with XL logo-clasp, now comes with the masculine addition of straps on its sides so that it can be used as a bum-bag!

It isn’t yet certain if this pair of “iconic” Fendi bags given the Porter treatment will enhance the Japanese brand’s already strong international standing, but it may shine a light on Fendi’s increasingly visible target of the younger—a lot younger—customer. Yet, the remake of once popular bags is not quite the same as pairing with a brand to take advantage of its unique design voice: this does not match Marni’s and Missoni’s collaboration with Porter, both with resultant products that had a certain edge and quirk that enchanted. We left Fendi no longer thinking of the bags we came to see. Rather, we’re wondering who we could call to help us score the Kolor X Porter bags, presently available only in Japan. Even if they only appeared in our dreams, we’d be happy.