Can the little red dot stand shoulder to shoulder with the little black dress? A native islander and friends look at fashion (and such) in Singapore, and, occasionally, among her neighbours, and a little further afield
Issey Miyake inprint ME has made a bag that is, if you are imaginative enough, also a necklace of sort
The Issey Miyake studio is known for their many innovative products. And also for the incorporation of traditional crafts, such as origami, within their deeply modern approach to design. In fact, it can be said that Issey Miyake and the paper craft are rather synonymous, having bases many of their ideas for both clothing and bags on folding fabrics into beautiful geometric shapes. It is hardly surprising, therefore, that there could be such a bag, as pictured above. This may look like a mini-me of an existing style of bag, but it isn’t.
Folded into a flat pinwheel (if even your grandmother can’t tell you what this is, let’s just say it’s a kid’s toy from long, long ago, made of a ‘wheel’ from a piece of cut square paper and attached in the middle on a stick. Hold it against the wind, and it spins. Not good enough? Ask ChatGPT!), it opens up into a rather capacious tote that can be strapped across the body. The real challenge could be in the folding it back to this.
To us, the bag in its utility form is the not the main lure. This could be the ideal shopping bag to bring out, except that it does not need to be cast aside in the main satchel that you carry on a daily basis. A pinwheel with straps, it is attractive enough to be worn as a neck pouch or even a crossbody. We like the neckwear idea better. On a white shirt or tee, the bold, symmetrical, graphic shape beats the tiny pendants that so many prefer on the their necks. Conspicuous need not be bland or, worse, loud.
Issey Miyake ME Boom Pleats Crossbody Bag, SGD165 is available at Issey Miyake, voco Orchard. Photo: Issey Miyake
…is top of The Lyst Index of Fashion’s “hottest products”. And it is not a luxury brand
Trending now from the just-released Q1 2023 “hottest brands” ranking of The Lyst Index is a pair of labels from the Prada Group that has taken the top two spots: Prada, followed by Miu Miu. Many Prada followers are thrilled that the once languishing proponent of nylon bags as luxury accessories has again stayed at the apex after Q4 2022’s admiral climb to the very top. The brand’s leading position is hardly surprising, considering that Prada has been enjoying an impressive run since Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons became co-designers in 2020, and generated €3.252 million (or about SGD4,755,278) in retail sales last year, as reported by the brand. Miu Miu is definitely no laggard, clocking at €432 million last year (possibly because they used less cloth with those popular ultra-mini-skirts?). Sure, the combined sales pale in comparison to Louis Vuitton’s (ranked 13 on the Index) €20 billion, but Prada has shown that not outdoing the world’s most valuable luxury brand is not necessarily a bad thing.
Prada’s nylon bags may still be the ones that many with no aversion to high prices turn to when looking for soft, less structured crossbodies, but one that seems to trump those with the inverted triangle plaque is from Uniqlo. According to The Lyst Index’s less buzzy “hottest products” listing, the Japanese brand’s ‘Round Mini Shoulder Bag’ is “the cheapest product to ever be featured” in the top-ten line-up (it sits at the top). And it’s one of only two bags that made the list (the other is the USD1,080 [or SGD1,440] heart-shaped Alaïa Le Coeur). A considerable triumph since the bag, launched last April, is not likely to be coveted for its exceptional stylishness, although Uniqlo does describe it as an article of “sophisticated design”. What clearly worked in its favour is the more-than-59-million views it has enjoyed on TikTok so far, with users showing how much more they can stuff into the little satchel.
It is a practical bag, moderately larger than the average sacoche, but definitely more capacious. Uniqlo is confident that “it easily handles all your daily essentials, such as your phone, wallet and water bottle”. You might, in fact, fit a compact umbrella in it if the water bottle is not a must. (There are two interior pockets for receipts and such.) Although Uniqlo describes the shape of the bag as “round”, it is more of a half-round, something akin to kidney shape, especially after it’s weighted, with hints of Loewe’s ‘Luna’ (or something cheaper, Kangol’s ‘Light Travel Round’). The bag is lightly padded and comes in two surface treatments, one with a smooth finish (water repellent) and the other “with a naturally wrinkled texture”. Both feel good to the touch As the bag is padded, it is comfortable to hold or to carry close to the body. The unisex bag is available in a large array of colours (we counted close to ten), as well as those in prints that are a collaboration with the estate of Keith Haring. Perhaps more crucial, at S$19.90, it is what social media users call “a steal”. Or, perhaps, to others, “luxury”.
Uniqlo Round Mini Shoulder Bag is available in stores and online. Photo: Zhao Xiangji
We know many people love free things. And if the freebie is not especially attractive, the greater the love. And no love is more extreme than the passion for the gifts-with-purchase at McDonald’s. Just yesterday, McD released what they called The McGriddles Patty Puffer Bag and fans of the burger chain’s highly-perceived products went quite crazy. The bag, according to McD would be available from 7am, but queues, as expected, formed much earlier. This time. the on-site excitement escaped me. I was not incited enough to wake up so early to witness the frenzy for myself, but according to reports and social media chatter, the bag was sold out, as soon as the fast food joint was opened. Apparently, only the first 200 in line stood a chance to own the bag as McD made only that many pieces available. Nothing screams unmissable as “limited”. Or breakfast?
Truth be told, I have never owned anything branded McD, or associated with it. I am a Coca Cola lover, yet I do not own any of their eponymous merchandise. Nope, never have. I am in no habit of announcing my love of certain foods or drink on my chest. Or on my shoes or my bags. To be sure, The McGriddles Patty Puffer Bag (my fingers were tired from typing that. I can’t imagine having to say the name, repeatedly) is not emblazoned with any logo, but, curiously there is what seems like a hangtag sticking out at the bottom, alongside a small, squarish McD logo, kind of like big tongue, little tongue, but what they’re doing down there is anyone’s guess. There are four quilted squares on the front, supposedly to mimic the “juicy patties” of the McGriddles. And the brown of the bag supposedly takes after the cooked meat too. But, in sum, I am not sure if it looks that delicious. McD’s social media campaign made it desirable with images that looked influencer-generated and influencer-approved.
McDonald’s S$14.90 Big Mac ‘N’ Fries crossbody from 2022. File photo: Zhao Xiangji for SOTD
As much as I can remember, this isn’t the first time McD has paired a bag with meal or burger. Last year, in early January, when were were still pandemic-stricken, the restaurant availed a small crossbody in two styles, Sesame Seed and Big Mac ‘N’ Fries—the difference was in the print. But unlike the present release, they were sold for S$14.90 apiece with any purchase. As was expected, the queues were crazily long. Having to pay for it was no deterrent. So a bag for nothing except the meal you are expected to buy would appeal far and wide. What is curious this time is that McD limited The McGriddles Patty Puffer Bag (there we go again) to only one outlet—Canberra, opposite the MRT station of the same name. Were they trying to make this truly limited? Two hundred pieces for a population of more than 5 million are, you’ll agree, pretty minimal, even dismal. I think a business as massive as McD offering only 200 bags is pathetic and, frankly, insufficient.
And just as predictable was the appearance of the bags on Carousell almost immediately after they were up for grabs. At one point, prices had shot up to a staggering high of S$288 before they hovered around S$100. Scalpers sure knew how to price. Could the limited number be part of the problem? The availability in just one outlet rather than nation-wide clearly elicited a rapid, must-make-money response. Eagle-eyed Netizens pointed out just as quickly that similar (some say identical) bags can be found on the website of Australian brand My Mom Made It for the grand some of AU$150.54 (or about S$133). They do look alike. But that is not a limited edition item and does not come with a gratifying American fast food label. This is not going to be the last time McDonald’s griddles a bag for hungry bag lovers. Don’t be surprised when they angle and dangle a Fillet-O-Fish sacoche next.
There are things we use in our daily lives that we do not give much thought to, but designers do. In the area of luxury bags, anything that can hold anything can be basis for a new bag. Balenciaga started the madness in 2017 when they made an all-leather version of the Ikea shopper Frakta, down to the same bright shade of blue. And then things turn downright absurd last year when Louis Vuitton released those tub-like bags in the likeness of paint cans. And, even more ridiculous, was the Lay’s-chip-bag-lookalike, again by Balenciaga. Now, Saint Laurent joins the who-can-pick-the-most-ordinary-of-things-and-make-a-bag-out-of-it mania; they created a take-away box in calfskin—printed with the maison’s Cassandre monogram) and affixed with a gold logo on the front—and slap a four-figure asking price on it.
Buying anything in a restaurant or food court to bring home won’t necessarily reward you with a box akin to this, not even in cardboard. Plastic is the operative word. A cake might be placed in a similar box for you to carry, but you’d probably have to spend a three-figure sum to get it. So, in the end, this fancy dabaohe (打包盒) might just be the bag to hold your humble lunch when you decide to take the food—chai png (菜饭), maybe?—away. We’re not sure if the suede lining would keep the meal warm, but we are quite certain you do not want the greasy base of the styrofoam box to mess up the beautiful interior, which comes with a small pocket that would be handy for the receipt that you might later wish to share online because the stall overcharged you for the fried fish. Interestingly, this box is marketed as a men’s bag. So, chances are, you’ll be be carrying your Nintendo Switch in it.
Saint Laurent Take-Away Box, SGD2,660, is available in Saint Laurent stores. Photo: Saint Laurent
It was not a customised gimmick for just one famous person after all
Remember this Balenciaga bag? Or the tape that goes around it? Well, back then, as the story went, the bag was part of a customised look that was conceived for Kim Kardashian when she attended the Balenciaga autumn/winter 2022 show in Paris earlier this year. Ms Kardashian was totally wrapped in the Balenciaga-branded “packing tape”, as it was later identified. Whether she needed something different to wear for the show and the house did not have fabric for her or if she liked to be bound like this is not quite clear, but the whole-body bandage was appealing enough that Lizzo duplicated it for the cover of last September’s US Elle. Initially, Balenciaga told the media that the tape would be available to purchase for anyone who wanted to follow the footsteps of the stars, but we have not seen them in the stores.
Now, for anyone enamoured with the taped look, but is not willing to undergo the mummification herself or without a petit main (a domestic helper is not sufficiently trained) to assist with the binding, there is that very bag Ms Kardashian carried. Limited pieces of the Balenciaga ’Hourglass’, with its distinctive curvilinear base, now comes similarly wrapped with the said yellow tape (even the detachable shoulder strap that goes with it is bound). Underneath is still a luxury calfskin bag, but it is not known in what colour. Would it be black, just like the SKIM bodysuit that Ms Kardashian wore under was? It’d be good to know because you might one day want to peel off the tape when you become jelak of it. But perhaps you won’t. According to Balenciaga, “due to the handmade process, all the pieces are unique”. Couture finish!
Balenciaga ‘Hourglass’ small handbag in box with tape in yellow, SGD4,100, is available at Balenciaga and online. Photo Balenciaga
Bottega Veneta’s Knot Minaudiere truly looks like something you’d find in the kitchen cupboard
Whose mee looks better? Left, Bottega Veneta Knot Minaudiere. Photo: Bottega Veneta. And right, regular dried egg noodles. Photo: Gan Mi Ann
One hit is far from enough. Bottega Veneta has had incredible success with their Cassette shoulder bag, the one with an exterior featuring the house Intreccio weave, but blown up many, many times. The bag, of course, looks less like a cassette than an oblong ketupat (Malay dumpling). But not content with one triumph and the surface treatment that recalls Asian foods, they offer another, possibly with the hope that this would be a winner too This time, the also-rectangular bag appears to be inspired by another food item—an Asian pantry staple: dried egg noodles! Yes, those that you might use to make wan ton mee if you do not have the fresh jidanmian (鸡蛋面) on hand. Or, are we seeing what is not there? Hunger-pangs-induced hallucination?
The new BV model is dubbed the Knot Minaudiere (French for a petit decorative bag, mostly without strap or handle). On both the front and back are these little loops (‘crocheted’, according to the brand) that, in the very arrangement, truly look like the curly strands of egg noodles in dried form. The shape and the flatness are similar too. We have no idea what really lured Bottega Veneta to come up with a bag that appears to want to be cooked, except that perhaps they thought this would be charming to Asian consumers, the noodle lovers that we are. Both bag and mee are, interestingly, made of natural materials; one in lambskin and the other wheat floor and egg. Beehoon next on the luxury menu?
Bottega Veneta Knot Minaudiere, SGD6,400, is available at Bottega Veneta stores. Dried egg noodles, SGD1.50, are available at any supermarket
A three-sided figure—even right-side up—and repeated just recalls those of a very famous Italian brand
Uma Wang’s pantsuit vs Prada’s Symbole jacquard tote. Photos: Uma Wang and Prada respectively
Uma Wang (王汁) is a popular designer in China. And the Chinese are especially proud that she is one of the few among the dalu (大陆 or mainland) designers to show abroad with anomalous regularity. Recently, she shared images of the digital presentation of her spring/summer 2023 collection, A Gaze into the Wilderness, during Paris Fashion Week. Among the Central Saint Martin alum’s usual oversized, drape-y styles, two outfits stood out, but not for their exceptional designs. There is a coat and a pantsuit and both are in fabrics with a orderly repeated pattern that immediately brings to mind the jacquard used in Prada’s Symbole bags.
Prada is, in fact, rather late in the monogram-style pattern in place of all-over logos or logotype on clothing and accessories. Based on its familiar inverted triangle that frames its logo, the Symbole was introduced this summer, with a campaign in our part of the world that featured Korean stars Kim Min-ju, Bona, and others. Prada describes the pattern of the Symbole as “modernist”. And it is even minimalist, if seen with the more recent monograms, such as Burberry’s interlocking TB, introduced in 2018 (what would its fate be now, since its introducer Riccardo Tisci is no longer with the house isn’t clear) or Versace’s Le Greca, launched last year.
Modernist might also be how Ms Wang sees her rows and rows of triangles. If you look at the dominant black ones, they are isosceles, closed-plane polygons with sharp vertexes, just like Prada’s, but placed right-side up and are more condensed. The linear arrangement is similar to the Italian brand’s as well—the black alternating with the lighter-coloured, with a sum effect like the board used for the triangular chess (yes, there is such a game, invented in 1986 by American lawyer George R. Dekle Sr). In that scheme, even Ms Wang’s chromatic choice is similar to Prada’s: black and khaki. It is possible that she picked her fabric (known to be from Italy) before Prada launched the Symbole bags, but it is even likelier that the latter went into development much earlier. Since only too looks were created with the said fabric, would it have been better for Uma Wang to omit both so as to avoid being compared to Prada’s increasingly popular Symbole?
Longchamp’s popular Le Pliage bags get a colourful modern update
The popularity of Longchamp’s Le Pliage nylon tote bags, with the recognisable leather flap (punctuated by a single snap button) and a pair of colour-matched handles, cannot be underestimated. In one 2017 Business of Fashion report, it was said that the bags were sold at a staggering 11 pieces per minute! Other accounts before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic claimed more than 30 million were bought since its inception in the 1993. Through the years, there had been versions that sported prints, rather than the solid colours that the bag is known for, as well as those designer collaborations, featuring more prints (Mary Katrantzou’s in 2012, for example), even illustrations, that made the Le Pliage highly collectible. Regardless of the many verions and collabs, the bag has remained largely in its recognisable east-west orientation. Until now.
The latest Le Pliage—which means “folding” in French (it can be folded into a compact trapezoidal shape, purportedly inspired by origami)—is dubbed “Re-Play”, and comes as a reiteration of the original, but in a portrait (or north-south) orientation that some tote users prefer. Standing tall in this manner, the Re-Play is a handsome version of its original self. But what makes the current version possibly even more appealing is that it is made of “100% recycled material” that are assembled from “end-of-the-roll” fabrics. There is this an upcycle component to the manufacture. Just as appealing is that the totes come colour-blocked (six colour variations), giving them a playful spin that would appeal to those who already own a few Le Pliages.
Longchamp Le Pliage Re-Play tote, SGD155, is available to order at Longchamp online. Product photo: Longchamp
With Fendi’s latest ad, Lindia Evangelista might just be reviving her modelling career, as she wanted to
Linda Evangelista shared on Instagram just hours ago a new image of her, back as a model. So did Kim Jones and Fendi, and those who worked with her on the shoot. The photograph of her, looking recognisably her before the Coolsculpting (also known as cryolipolysis) scandal which allegedly “disfigured” her back in 2015 and 2016, was shot for Fendi to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Baguette, the “iconic” handbag designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi in 1997, during Karl Lagerfeld’s tenure at the house. The Baguette is considered the one that started the ‘It’ bag craze, reportedly moving more than a million pieces in the first 20 years of its existence.
Shot by Steven Meisel, who has put Ms Evangelista before his lens countless times before, the photograph shows the come-back Canadian model looking as many remember her, even when there are three baseball caps atop her head, a pair of shades over her eyes, and two Baguettes (and what appears to be another two mini ones) obscuring her body. On her IG page, the photo received 28,000 likes in the first 13 hours since it appeared (updated). Ms Evangelista does not look in any way marred. This could have been her at the height of her carrier in the ’90s. It is hard to imagine that this is the model who told People in February that a “fat-freezing” procedure Coolsculpting that she accepted left her “permanently deformed”. On IG, she made no comments other than expressing her gratitude to the team behind the shoot.
Last year, Ms Evangelista sued Zeltiq Aesthetics, the company behind the Coolsculpting performed on her, for US$50million (or about S$69.9 million), alleging that what was done caused severe and permanent injuries and suffering to her, and that she was not able to work as model after that. We do not know what is the outcome of that suit or if any settlement is reached. “I loved being up on the catwalk. Now I dread running into someone I know,” she told People. Ms Evangelista’s come-back is in the hands of those she does know and have worked with before, including French stylist Carlyne Cerf de Dudzeele, American makeup artist Pat McGrath, and British hairstylist Palau Guido. According to online buzz, Ms Evagelista will be returning to the runway too—in September for Fendi, unsurprisingly. She did tell People that she’s done with hiding. It is going to be the most anticipated show of the season as Fendi plays its trump card.
If you’re looking into the bread basket for the next bag to buy and are quite jelak of the Baguette, it’s really time to consider the Croissant, the nifty little cross-shoulder by Lemaire. Introduced last year, this made-in-Spain bag requires no explanation as to where it derives its name from. Rather similar to those kidney-shaped bags, this crescent delight is a sleek composition of top-stitched panels, assembled to mimic the famous French breakfast pastry. But unlike the croissant, this buttery, nappa-leather sac isn’t brittle and fat-rich, and won’t flake!
As with most Lemaire merchandise, there is a sense of craft in the way this bag is fashioned. At the two points where the handle meets the body, it is knotted on both sides, which lends the organic design a decidedly less formal and structured vibe. The bag is unisex, and fits nicely against the back or chest, regardless of the gender of the user. What we found extra appealing is how huggable the capacious Croissant is. For fans of Lemaire, there is the added appeal of its logo-less, monogram-free exterior. Just swell.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Lemaire (small) ‘Croissant’ bag, SGD1,650, is available at DSMS. Photo: Lemaire/DSMS
Once going for S$249, this bag is now available for S$49
Bags were not a main category of the now-concluded Uniqlo and Jil Sander collaboration, +J. So when this strikingly simple tote (one of two bag styles) dropped for the partnership’s final collection last November, we were rather attracted to it. Everything about the bag was really appealing, except the price. We thought that S$249 was a tad high since a wool coat could be had for less. But now with a dramatic price drop, the bag is appealing again—even more so. It is now on sale for S$49, which is after a whopping 80% discount, one of the highest markdowns that you could find in a Uniqlo store.
This black tote would be described by most as ‘smart’, as opposed to the canvas shopping bags that are very much carried these days. With the return to the office, this is the ideal replacement for a cross-body, if you are seeking not to crease the front of your shirt or blouse. In the north-south orientation, the tote’s pull is the unusual pointed vertical three edges and one that is curved. Those edges—basically where the ends of the leather panels meet at ninety degrees—are painted in navy. It may be an extremely subtle detail, but it is a detail nonetheless, and one that is appealingly only-the-user-knows discreet.
The body of the tote is coated with acrylic resin to yield a sheen that Uniqlo describes as “a glass finish”, although it does not shine as conspicuously as patented leather. Inside (lined in cotton), the tote is capacious enough for whatever you need to lug with you in the course of the day, including a small notebook. It should, however, be taken into consideration that it is rather heavy even before any content is introduced to it. Uniqlo classifies this as a bag for women, but it is really blockish and rugged enough for guys. Don’t let gender tags be your guide; let the price be.
Uniqlo +J leather tote, now SGD49, is available at select Uniqlo stores and online. Photo: Uniqlo
One shopping bag comes with an accessory that can allow it to be carried as a shoulder bag
By Ray Zhang
The shopping bag has been in fashion for a while now, thanks largely to Balenciaga. But it has not really caught on here. I have not seen that many people carry it, compared to, say, in Japan. In our city, the shopping bag is still associated with supermarkets or going to one. Once, I carried a Porter ‘shopper’ to meet a friend for lunch at 313@Orchard. As I left the train station, I bumped into an acquaintance who asked me, “Going Fairprice, ah?” In less then ten minutes, a neighbour I was not expecting to see, greeted me with “刚买完菜啊 (just finished grocery shopping)?” Fifteen kilometres from my flat? Since then, I have stopped using that bag.
But now I am considering this from the Japanese label John Lawrence Sullivan by the menswear designer Arashi Yanagawa. While the label, once available at a formerly fashionable Tangs, is named after the late American boxer (aka Boston Strong Boy), the clothes are less for the boxing ring than the more fashionable part of any downtown. And this shopping bag too. While you could use it as grocery bag for fresh vegetables and such, it really would not be out of place—once you slip it into the harness that comes with it—if you carry it and catch up with your mates at the now-open night spots for a lager. Or to meet a date for a night out.
At the core is the shopping bag in the identifiable shape of a grocery bag. Use it as it is and be prepared (at least here) to mistaken to have just been to the grocer’s. But, if you take the harness, made of leather and is held together by a metal ring and studs, and slip the shopper into its frame, you get almost an entirely different carrier, one that appears to have the toughness that might be synonymous with Boston Strong Boy. That it has a fetishist vibe about it is rather appealing!
I really like that the harness provides the practical option of carrying the bag over your shoulder, like you might with a tote. It is truly rather amazing that a simple idea of the harness totally transforms the shopping bag. The Japanese have offered other ideas to make the grocery carrier “two-way”, such as the inclusion of single straps looped around the two handles, but it‘s John Lawrence Sullivan’s idea I find most appealing, and desirable.
John Lawrence Sullivan shopping bag, ¥52,800 (approximately SGD570), is unfortunately available only in Japan. Get a friend to cop it at the brand’s Nakameguro store. Photos: John Lawrence Sullivan