Limited by the stereotypes and product acceptance of male images by mass consumers, looking at the men’s bag market 5 years ago, business, conservative, practical, and even old-school, has always been synonymous with style in this segment.

But in the past two years, from the transformation of traditional men’s wear brands, and the innovative momentum brought by creative directors such as Kim Jones and Virgil Abloh who are good at reshaping the image of men, to the combination of trend icons in the mass media system, the traditional gender label attached to bag products has become more and more untenable, and even considering whether a handbag can be called It Bag, it is necessary to add the precondition of “whether it is supported by both male and female consumers”.

Isabelle Chaput with Nelson Tiberghien

Not long ago, Stavros Karelis, founder and purchasing director of the London concept store Machine A, told WWD: “We are seeing that more and more male consumers are using women’s handbags and are very confident, which is already a very clear trend, which may be related to the gender flow that is often talked about today, and gender classification is no longer a limiting factor for them to buy handbags.”

In the face of this shift in consumer trends generated by the market, the brand has launched a series of men’s or gender-neutral handbags directly evolved from women’s bags, which is actually a safety card.

On the one hand, in social media, Chanel 19, Gucci 1955, Bottega Veneta’s Cassette, Giambattista Valli’s Flore and other popular handbags for women have received a lot of praise and sales in the shots of many male fashion icons.

On the other hand, for brands, the evolution of women’s handbags into men’s models, or the neutral idea of men’s and women’s styles, is often based on women’s bags to launch more size options, or to renovate and improve the details of men’s body shapes and wearing habits. Compared with the launch of new models, whether it is creative or plate making investment, it is a “SKU saving” brand strategy.

One of the most well-known is the classic example of a saddle bag designed by Dior’s then-creative director John Galliano in 1999 and redesigned by current womenswear creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri in 2018. As the brand’s signature contemporary product and the main driver of bag sales, the men’s saddle bag was first introduced in the 2019 Spring/Summer Menswear Show by new Menswear Creative Director Kim Jones in 2018 and was once the focus of social media discussion.

Dior’s Spring/Summer 2019 menswear show debuts men’s saddle bags

In the process of renovating and improving the classic model, in addition to the wider shape and stiff silhouette, as well as the handbag and belt bag with the saddle as the design element, Kim Jones also invited ALYX designer Matthew Williams to play the industrial-style “CD” metal buckle inspired by the Six Flags roller coaster’s seat belt. From the popularity of the product itself to a series of celebrity marketing content related to it, a monitoring data in October 2019 showed that the Dior saddle bag was the luxury handbag with the highest exposure of Douyin’s short video at the time.

In addition, the Baguette classic handbag launched by Silvia Venturini Fendi in 1997 was also used in the autumn/winter 2019 menswear runway, after adjusting the proportion of the classic style, the men’s Baguette containing large, standard and mini sizes was launched, and more materials and shapes have been derived since then.

Fendi’s Fall/Winter 2019 menswear show

Popular handbags such as Gucci Jackie 1961 or Givenchy’s Cut-Out featured genderlessness at the beginning of their release. Cut-Out is Matthew M. Williams’ first unisex handbag since he joined Givenchy. Born in 1961, Jackie bags were once the fashion symbol of the luxury lifestyle of the 60s and 70s, and half a century later, Jackie bags have been reinterpreted in the concept of genderlessness by creative director Alessandro Michele.

Gucci Jackie 1961

At the same time, more and more young brands are also following the trend, such as Johanna Parv, Stefan Cooke, Steven Ma, mentioned to WWD by Stavros Karelis, founder and purchasing director of Machine A, who have been integrating neutrality into all aspects of brand management and product design.

Steven Ma Affection handbags

Speaking at the launch of the new Affection collection of handbags in September, Steven Ma said: “For me, the style, color and shape of accessories are never limited to gender, especially bags. I think the most important thing is functionality, occasion and mood, so I never thought about designing bags for a specific gender. ”

In fact, for a long time in the past year, for the fashion industry, the trend of neutralization has long been not a strange phenomenon, nor has it only stayed at the market level driven by aesthetic taste and consumer demand, but has been running through various fields of culture, art and fashion, as a social issue advocating inclusiveness and diversity.

Among them, the most active and popular fashion industry has a number of brand culture projects around this social issue, as well as new collections.

For example, in July 2019, Loewe held a photo exhibition celebrating LGBTQ pioneer Hervé Guibert at its flagship store in Madrid, Spain, documenting Guibert’s life in Paris in the 1970s and 80s through 50 works. In the Fall/Winter 2020 menswear runway, dresses, high-waisted gray princess coats and childlike decorations were used to present the unbridled choices of childhood before gender norms were established.

Loewe’s Fall/Winter 2020 menswear runway

Last year, in No Space, Just A Place, a heterotopian-themed exhibition sponsored by Gucci, the curatorial inspiration was drawn from the complex history of independent and non-mainstream art spaces in Seoul, and was closely related to several themes that Alessandro Michele has pondered over human society over the past few seasons, including reflections and explorations on the ethical and aesthetic values of stereotypes and gender relations.

Heterotopia Exhibition “No Space, Just A Place”

On the occasion of the launch of the Fall/Winter 2020 menswear collection, creative director Alessando Michele led people into a world full of childlike innocence with the theme of Rave like you are five. Before the release, Gucci also shared an excerpt from “Masculinity” by transgender scholar R.W. Cornell via social media: “It’s time to embrace free will, uninhibited, without dictatorship, without stereotypes, and present a male image that can relate to vulnerability, tenderness, and compassion and care that is willing to embrace fear.” ”

While this social issue is becoming more and more active in the fashion industry, it is also gradually spreading to more and more segments such as jewelry and beauty.

As the younger generation of men becomes more open to beauty and skincare, the past has driven the emergence of more and more male beauty brands and increasingly diverse narratives about “masculinity”. Like rapper Machine Gun Kelly’s genderless nail polish collection; Or Faculty, a men’s beauty start-up brand led by The Estée Lauder Group in May this year, released its first product as a dark green nail polish called “Moss”.

Faculty launches its first product “Moss” dark green nail polish

The founder of Maapilim, a men’s skincare and grooming brand originally founded in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2015, said: “When we first sold men’s products, it was clear that something was missing in the men’s skincare space, and we wanted to stimulate more discussion among men about skincare methods and self-care, so that men are less emotionally rigid, which can be achieved by praising other people’s skin and openly discussing wellness.” Oli Walsh, founder of Asystem, a men’s health brand that sells skincare and daily nutritional supplements on a monthly subscription basis through its website, also admitted: “The definition of masculinity has changed dramatically in the last 20 years, and skin care is clearly a key driver of this topic.” ”

Men’s care brand Dove Men+Care invited Dr. Wizdom Powell, associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut Health Center and director of the Health Inequality Institute, as a brand consultant to study the mental health of men in marginalized communities. Dr Wizdom Powell said: “I do think contemporary norms about men are changing and our understanding of how masculinity is formed. ”

Men’s care brand Dove Men+Care

In addition, in WWD’s previous report “Trend Insight|More bold jewelry is entering men’s wardrobes”, it can also be seen that whether it is high jewelry or young designer jewelry brands, which were previously closely related to traditional male keywords such as power, status, and power, and have always been low-key and avoid ostentatious designs, men’s jewelry is now increasingly able to reflect a more bold and neutral aesthetic trend, bringing new growth impetus to the male jewelry market.

De Turckheim of Mr Porter, a luxury e-commerce company, said: “As masculinity trends shift, men become more courageous in styling choices and self-expression, and are more tolerant of experimental trends in jewellery. Yasmin Lane, assistant fashion and fine jewelry buyer at Browns, said: “As the lines between menswear and womenswear blur, the jewelry category will continue to evolve around this trend.

Photo credit: Mr Porter

Min Lee, head of jewellery at Farfetch, also said: “This will have a strong impact on the jewellery industry, which originally focused on women. I look forward to seeing more unisex or men’s jewelry on the market, as well as more men wearing fine jewelry in their daily lives and special occasions. ”

Chris Kyvetos, director of menswear purchasing at Mytheresa, believes that as a way to express yourself, this will not be just a sloppy, short-lived trend.

The increasingly concrete representation of commercial systems such as men’s models from the initial abstract creative ideas to the evolution of women’s handbags, and the growing influence from clothing, beauty, to jewelry, is exactly this evidence, and the prevalence of social inclusion issues such as gender-neutralization, gender ambiguity, or gender shift is affecting all corners of the fashion industry.

All this does not mean a complete subversion of traditional gender aesthetics, but is giving men more space to have and express their fashion attitude and provide them with the products they need, and it is also to transform the originally narrow social prejudice into respect and permission, and with it will be more diverse creativity and possibilities.





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