While some consumers considered bags useless in 2020 due to the COVID-19 lockdowns and stay-at-home orders, handbags and other leather goods have remained one of the most resilient luxury products throughout the pandemic. According to Boston Consulting Group’s recent post titled “Fashion’s Biggest Reset,” even though sales may decline at a slower pace (a 30 percent dip in 2020 compared with 2019 sales), sales will recover faster (5 percent fewer sales in 2021 in comparison to 2019 sales levels) than in sectors such as jewelry.
As such, more designer jewelry houses have been feeding consumers’ handbag obsession by creating (or introducing) more handbags than ever before.
Chopard x Chloë Sevigny
In late 2020, the designer jewelry brand Chopard unveiled a new boutique at Harrods, the world’s leading luxury department store. However, much to the surprise of their customers, Chopard did not launch a new jewelry collection. Instead, the brand extended their offerings of “arm candies” to not only jewelry, but to also include a line of bags. Chopard’s new release was a shoulder bag in collaboration with Chloë Sevigny and the timeless Happy Bags, reported The New York Times. It features a spherical buckle complete with precious stones — a choice of malachite, rhodonite, opals, and mother-of-pearl cabochons — similar to the brand’s Happy Diamonds watch.
Bulgari x Ambush
A standout launch in the summer of 2020 was BVLGARI x Ambush, a collaboration between the Roman high-end jewelry house and the brand of Japan-based designer Yoon Ahn. They introduced a padded cassette crossbody bag, which also comes in a belt bag, in classic black or stunning neon shades of green, purple, and blue, tied together by Bulgari’s signature snakehead clasp in smooth leather with two hypnotizing eyes in either mother-of-pearl or onyx.
Bulgari’s distinct snakehead design is the centerpiece or “hero” of their bags, and they wanted their leather creations to be a conversational piece, said Mireia Lopez Montoya, accessories business unit manager at Bulgari and the person credited with the success of the house’s Serpenti handbag.
Mireia Lopez Montoya added that the design of Bulgari’s bags is a reflection of the fundamental aesthetics of its jewelry pieces: architectural design and bold color.
French luxury giant LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton — the owner of Bulgari — doesn’t break down sales based on brands, however, Mireia Lopez Montoya assured that Bulgari’s Serpenti bags successfully attracted many new buyers. She didn’t hesitate to share that 80 percent of the customers buying their bags are new to the brand, and that many of them have also become jewelry clients.
Handbags by Cartier
Cartier, one of the most popular jewelry brands in the world, recently reintroduced the Must de Cartier game bag, which initially appeared in 1973 in burgundy leather. It follows the 2019 debut of Guirlande de Cartier, a coveted series that Cartier’s signature red box inspired, including the intricate gold garland motif adorning the edges.
The house started to design and make purses during the beginning of the 20th Century and has “never stopped,” revealed Pierre Rainero, the brand’s director of image, style, and heritage. “What changed over time is the focus,” he added.
The creatives behind Cartier first dabbled with jeweled bags and elaborate vanity cases before adding daytime leather bags, all of which Department S made under the leadership of Jeanne Toussaint. While Department “S” stood for “silver,” it still incorporated all accessories.
Cartier continues to make sought-after jeweled bags, including the Cactus de Cartier. The house also collaborates with métiers d’art specialists like Atelier Safrane Cortambert (an authority in hand embroidery) and Maison Lemarié (masters of featherwork).
Pierre Rainero concluded his narrative by ensuring that Cartier’s handbags are, in the best way possible, the work of jewelers. Each bag’s shape is “an object in its own right, rather than part of a silhouette.” When a jeweler creates a bag, it should “last in time” like a gem-studded piece.
Van Cleef & Arpels’ Minaudière
Nicolas Bos, the chief executive of Van Cleef & Arpels, explained through email that the jewelry house has been producing minaudières since 1933 and operations have not stopped. A unique 3-D jigsaw intended to carry beauty essentials in minimal space, the VCA minaudière requires a minimum of two years to complete, said Nicolas Bos, noting that “very few craftsmen master the art of creating functional objects made of precious metal.”
More bags from jewelry brands are coming
Filippo Bianchi, managing director and a partner at Boston Consulting Group in Milan, said he’s not at all surprised to learn that high-end jewelry brands are introducing or expanding their handbag collections. Purses are the “El Dorado of luxury,” he said, acknowledging the fact that handbags have been showing a consistent annual progression of about 6 percent in a market that only grows at half that speed.
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is displaying some jeweled purses, including ones by Cartier and Lacloche Frères, at “Bags: Inside Out.” The exhibition, which is available until the 22nd of January, 2022, highlights the style, function, design, and symbolic value of some of the most popular handbags.
Lucia Savi, the exhibition’s curator, said it was apparent as early as the 17th Century that bags would become so much more valuable and have more purpose than being utilitarian sacks that held onto items as the carrier moved from one spot to another. “Bags show who we are and who we aspire to be,” she added.
Lucia Silvestri, creative director of jewelry at Bulgari, wrote in a text message to The New York Times that bags are similar to jewels: they are “hallmarks of elegance and personality.” And, she added that people will keep buying these bags, even if we have nowhere to go, as “the desire for beauty never goes away.”
The resale value of designer bags from jewelry brands
If you’ve been looking to cash in your designer bag from Cartier, Chopard, VCA, and other jewelry houses, now is the perfect time to do it. Because pieces from these brands take years to create and the demands are high, the resale value of such purses remains excellent. If you are looking to sell, Biltmore Loan and Jewelry is buying. Visit our Scottsdale or Chandler office today or get an online appraisal to sell luxury items in Phoenix, AZ.