My Love for Beautiful Designer Handbags

In my last memoir I made no secret how much I love clothing and fashion in general.  Fashion has played a huge part in my life over the years.  Both of my parents are fashion designers and as an actor, I’m surrounded by clothing all of the time.  And I’m not going to lie, I’m friends with many famous designers and stylists who are constantly gifting me free clothing.  Over the past year I built a massive walk-in closet.  I have the sort of wardrobe that is envied by many.  I’m not bragging, but simply stating a fact.  I love fashion and I think it should be celebrated.  Fashion is a huge business and a big chunk of the world’s economy.  Many people think it’s silly to be interested in fashion and to me that mentality is crazy.  Fashion is big business and people should take an interest in it.  I see how how hard my parents work and at times it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes they create amazing clothes and accessories that do not receive any sort of praise from the fashion press.  The fashion world is very competitive.  Designers are all vying for only a few spots in monthly fashion glossies.

Along with fashion, I’m also very partial to designer handbags.  When I’m on location shooting a film, I always make sure to figure out the local shopping.  I love nothing more than visiting local boutiques and even shopping malls.  I’ve found many fashion gems in far flung locales while shooting.  Shopping in a local area also gives you a different perspective.  You get more of an idea about local taste and what people like.  Sometimes a certain style will be popular in one city, but in another city something completely different is trending.  I’ve recently discovered that Salzburg has some amazing shops.  In between shooting, I’ve been stopping into quant little boutiques and discovering some major fashion talent.  I have a soft spot for European designers as do many.  They express their views on style and even the world through their designs and it’s so refreshing to see.  European designers also have an amazing flare with accessories.  Some of their understated sensibilities translate well into handbags and leather goods.  Do you frequent any European cities where you absolutely love to shop?  I’d like to know which ones provide amazing fashion that is different from the rest of the world.

designer handbags

I have one smallish walk-in closet that is just dedicated to all of my designer handbags.  Many of these beautiful bags were purchased in different cities all over the globe.  Some of my favorites are custom made exclusively for me.  It’s easy to fall in love with handbags.  They are fun to carry and usually pair well with many different outfits.  Next week my handbag closet will be photographed for VOGUE.  I look forward to presenting a few of my favorite luxurious designer handbags to photographers.  I don’t think my love for beautiful handbags will ever wane.  They are truly gems!

designer handbags

Style.com to Transform into an E-Commerce Site

Early this morning news broke that style.com would no longer be an editorial destination and instead it would become an e-commerce site.  You could hear the ground reverberating throughout the fashion world.  style.com was always VOGUE’s love child and it will now fold into the publication.  It’s not a surprising move as everyone wants a piece of the e-commerce pie so to speak.  Let’s not mince words:  everyone wants to what net-a-porter.com has accomplished.  Not only are they the number one destination online for luxury fashion, but they also publish an incredibly successful print magazine.  VOGUE already has their glossy print magazine, but now they want to dominate e-commerce as well.

E-commerce is over a trillion dollar industry.  Everyone wants to be a part of it.  However, it’s worth noting that not all succeed.  Yes, style.com has the power of Condé Nast behind it, but they will soon find out how difficult the digital shopping landscape proves to be.  Online shoppers can’t always be pinpointed or put into certain categories.  Consumers use a combination of social media, search engines, and recommendations from friends before making online purchases.  And of course we cannot forget the elephant in the room: VOGUE magazine.  One has to wonder if the fashion glossy will start recommending many of the products seen in the magazine to their new e-commerce site.  For instance an article that discusses this seasons hot new tuxedo pants will probably have a few recommendations where to purchase and one or two of those will be style.com.  This brings paid content into the debate.  Powerful fashion houses have huge advertising budgets and this influences fashion editors.  Affiliate advertising will also play into this.  Other large e-commerce sites will pay for style.com to mention their products.  When a consumer clicks on that product and purchases, style.com will receive part of that sale.  It short, much of the new e-commerce site will center around affiliate kickbacks and also product recommendation from big budget labels.  Are small brands left behind?  Possibly.

Designer Handbags Designer Handbags

Smaller brands don’t have such huge ad budgets, nor do they have massive PR personalities behind them.  Most of their revenue goes back into the business in creating new designs and products.  Let’s say they pitch VOGUE their new designs, they don’t have the backing to always sway editors in the same way as their larger competitors.  Chances are the large brands already advertise in VOGUE magazine.  By spending advertising dollars, this already gives them a leg  up on Condé’s e-commerce site.  There are many talented designers in the marketplace, however not all of them receive the accolades they deserve.  From designers creating jewelry to designer handbags, the marketplace is lucky to have many of these niche, luxury brands.  However, now that magazines are turning into e-commerce giants, we don’t know how this will fare for smaller brands.  Based on many new collections and designs, there is still room for labels that produce designer handbags to succeed; they simply have to be more creative than their larger competitors.

Celebs and Their Favorite Handbags

You have probably noticed that celebrities absolutely love handbags.  Open any tabloid or fashion glossy and famous people are pictured carrying their bags everywhere.  From airports to the streets of NYC, famous and well known faces are never without their handbags.  What is it about bags that makes people love them so much?  Celebs especially can have any handbag they desire.  Designers and big labels are constantly showing celebrities their newest designs and often sending them several styles free of charge.  If a celebrity is pictured carrying a certain handbag then it often sells out in a matter of hours.

Celebrities though are not all created the same.  There is a definite ranking and pecking status when it comes to their order of importance.  Someone such as a member of the Royal family has higher status with consumers and fans than a mild celeb from a reality TV show.  Many designers don’t want lower ranked celebrities carrying their handbags as it muddies the labels image.  Image is very important to big brands.  They cannot have everyone carrying their bags or it will appear as if they are not a luxury brand.  Luxury brands have their own image to maintain.  Many high end brands higher super star celebs for ad campaigns.  Monthly fashion magazines have pages flooded with luxury ad campaigns featuring top movie stars and influencers.  These campaigns display the newest and most luxurious designer handbags.  Consumers often tear out these campaigns not only because they are so beautiful, but also to keep for future shopping trips.  Money spent showing a celebrity and a brand’s new handbag usually results in a good return on investment.  Return on investment is important to these luxury houses and a good part of their yearly sales is because of handbags and leather goods.

Designer Handbags

Celebrities themselves often favorite larger handbags.  Larger handbags obviously carry more essentials so it’s easy to see why they favor them.  When a famous movie star is pictured gliding through an airport she is usually pictured carrying a larger satchel bag or perhaps a luxurious tote slung over her shoulder.  Tote bags are wonderful as you can be nearly hands free when you put it over your shoulders and many celebs love this style; especially if they have small children.  During awards season, movie stars present themselves on the red carpet with smaller clutch handbags.  Many of these tiny bags sparkle and shine and are like little pieces of jewelry.  Designer handbags are an important element to celebrities and the way they dress.  From dressing down and going to the gym to attending an awards show, these famous faces are always carrying a handbag.

Do you have a favorite movie star or celebrity?  If so, what are your favorite designer handbags that they carry?  Let us know also if you have purchased a bag simply because you saw your favorite style star carrying one.  Many of our readers are swayed into purchasing a bag because someone famous carries it.  Celebrities definitely love handbags and we can see why.

Pop-Up Popularity

If you are interested in retail, shopping, and the economy then you have recently read about many large stores closing down several of their outlets.  Target opened 19 stores last year, but in 2105 it plans to close 19 stores.  Sears/Kmart corporation plan to close many of their stores as well.  From the sounds of it one would think brick-and-mortar retail is dead.  Indeed, many of these stores are dormant and even a bit dead to consumers.  The teenager Abercombie once appealed to has grown up and moved on.  That consumer now has more sophisticated taste and doesn’t want to shop in a dark store with too loud of music pumping throughout.  Nor do they need to be walking billboards advertising the stores brand name on their sweatshirt or t-shirts.  One of the hardest aspects of retail is maintaining a relationship with the consumer over a span of years and life changes.  It’s not easy to be a brand that clothes a person as a teenager and also when they are in their 20’s and 30’s.  Some stores like J.Crew are adept at this, but it’s rare to find many that take a consumer beyond only a few years.  Many retailers have not kept up with the times.  Not only have they not kept up, they have not learned to adapt to their customers’ needs.  It’s important in retail to have a sense of what your customer wants before they even know.  That’s why Instagram is so popular and important.  Buyers and designers for these large department stores need to keep their finger on the pulse of what is important.  Consumers are glued to their phones and they love the most popular apps.  Instagram is nearly more popular now than Facebook.  Fashionistas are liking and saving products they see on Instagram.  Take designer handbags for instance, if a consumer sees several Instagrammers with many followers showing off the same handbag, they want that handbag, too.  Department stores and larger brands could take a cue from lesser known brands that are utilizing social media to leverage their products.  These stores could open smaller in-shop areas to showcase up and coming designers and get more shoppers into their doors.  These new eyeballs would result in more sales.

With many of these store closings one would think that storefronts will be empty, but in larger cities, that is further from the truth.  Surprisingly, e-commerce is incredibly bullish with offline retail.  E-companies that were once only available online have taken up brick-and-mortar spaces in the past few years.  Rent the Runway and Warby Parker are a few of the e-commerce companies that have jumped offline to better serve their customers.  Birchbox is establishing their own flagship.  Bauble Bar has even debuted a new television commercial.  It’s nearly a trend now for e-commerce companies to take advantage of vacant storefronts.  One term we hear a lot is ‘pop-up shop.’  The term pop-up shop means a small brick-and-mortar temporary physical presence.  We will discuss that more in depth in a bit.  What is important to note is how internet born brands are also eager to hop off line.  They recognize their shopper purchases both on and off the Internet.  Many venture capitalists are going so far as to say that all shopping will only take place online in the near future.  That’s a huge assumption to make.  Look at any grocery store on a weekend or near the holidays; they are packed with shoppers.  I will be as bold to say that there will never be a time when shoppers purchase everything online.  It’s much easier to drive to the store for coffee than to wait for it to be delivered.  There is a convenience with brick and mortar stores that online retailers still cannot match.  In fact, there does not need to be such a competition between online and offline shopping.  It’s ridiculous in a sense that the two need to be pitted against each other.  Instead, there will be a way in the not too distance future where online and offline retail work in tandem with each other.  In fact, they must reinvent a way to work together.  If e-tailers need a physical offline presence, then stores also need an online presence as well.  It won’t necessarily be a war between offline and online.  That wouldn’t make sense at all.  There is no dramatic death of traditional retail.  However, traditional retail must evolve to the needs of consumers today.  CEO’s of traditional retail stores will quickly realize they must make changes and evolve to continue a momentum of shoppers throughout their stores.  These stores will develop a way to appeal to both offline and online shoppers.  We will take a look now concerning online stores and how they are utilization vacant space in the physical world.

Pop-Up Shops

Pop-up shops or pop-up retail have been on the shopping scene for many years.  The term started becoming popular and heard more and more in about 1998-2000.  In short, pop-up shops are opening short-term sales spaces in vacant shops or buildings.  Usually the leases and rents with pop-up shops are for a shorter time period compared to traditional stores that signed longer leases.  In the early days, pop-up shops were seen as sharp, guerilla marketing.  In short, they would occupy space or spaces for a short time and/or until product sells out and then close shop or move on to new part-time storefronts.  Customers loved the idea of a short sell time in a store that would not be occupying its space for a long amount of time.  It was a sudden rush of “I must have this product” and many shoppers felt the need to buy the products at these pop-up shops.  Within a short amount of time pop-up retailing caught on across American and the UK.  Over the past few years it seems those not familiar learned more about pop-up shops, but in reality, they have been around for a while; more than a decade.  For smaller brands and businesses, pop-up shops let them test a market before signing expensive leases.  Some pop-up leases can last just one day.

pop-up shops

Many landlords are taking advantage of the pop-up popularity.  Instead of signing long-term expensive leases, they are fine renting out their space or spaces for a short amount of time to small and large brands.  Often landlords will let brands do whatever they want to the space as long as they turn it back to its original look.  Pop-ups are not only popular with startup brands, even large corporations like Target are taking advantage of short term retail.  To them it looks hip and cool.  On the radar super-trendy shopping districts are most favored for pop-up shops.  It has a cool element that traditional stores do not have.  Many tourists to New York city for instance will research where the pop-up shops are located and put them on a list of shops to visit.  Log on to Instagram and search the term #popup and you will find many temporary stores and shops across the globe.  It truly is an international shopping experience.  With so many consumers glued to their smartphones, pop-up shops are a way for brands to find their customers.  For instance if a music festival like Coachella is happening, startups and larger retailers may offer their goods in a temporary space.  This lets attendees see a brands products in person that they would normally only view on their website.  Online brands especially love to follow their consumer wherever they may be, even if it’s at a concert.

It used to be that established brands could only occupy physical retail space.  And then after they had many stores spread throughout the country, they would establish an online presence.  Now it’s the opposite.  The business model has change so that online only brands are able to secure fast space in the offline world.  You will find brands like Warby Parker taking advantage of temporary spaces to offer goods to their customers in a more touchy feely way.  Customers can try on their frames in person instead of order them and waiting for delivery.  If you live in NYC, it’s a perfect way to experience Warby Parker in person.  Customer aquistion online is actually more expensive than most realize.  Unless someone knows to go directly to your website, how will they find your online brand?  That’s why many of these online only brands hire expensive PR on a monthly retainer.  PR gets the online brand out there in magazines and on some of the most important blogs.  SEO is competitive and its very hard to find trustworthy people to help get your rankings higher on search engines.  Even though retainer fees with good PR companies are expensive, there is often better ROI than worrying about finding customers through search engine optimization.  Pop-up shops help relieve some of the worry of brand exposure and finding new customers.  Think of all of the shoppers who will find your temporary brick-and-mortar digs in NYC, Chicago, and San Francisco.

Fast food trucks also lead the way for this second generation of pop-up shops.  In 2009, the food truck phenom took over the nation.  From New York to New Mexico food trucks were popping up in numbers.  Each day they would move their truck to different parts of a city notifying would be customers via social media.  On sites like Twitter and Facebook the trucks would let fans and followers know where they would be parked and what was on the menu.  Taco trucks especially caught on like wild fire.  Online only brands took notice of the food truck popularity.  They wanted to be in front of a physical audience in a similar way.  We call this era of pop-ups second generation because it’s actually a continued evolution of what became popular nearly 16 years ago.  Although the concept has actually been around for centuries.  Trade and commerce are not new.

On the opposite end of the spectrum larger retail giants such as Target want to be a part of the pop-up action.  They see it as a buzz word if you will and don’t want to miss out.  They foresee that the pop-up craze isn’t fading in the near future.  Large retailers like Target have budgets to go into massive spaces such as vacant warehouses and completely transform them for an experience in shopping.  Before the holidays for instance they may completely renovate the looks of an old sewing factory to lure in shoppers that may not necessarily shop at their main big box store.  Pop-ups also allow more established stores to re-tell their story in a modern way.  Remember, we now live in an area of 140 characters and our attention is held by fast snaps on Instagram without a lot of verbiage.  Attention span is shorter than ever these days and retail is aware that they only have a small space to attract not only customers, but customers who will open their wallets.

In order to have a successful pop-up in this fickle time of retail, you need to clearly state your brand’s story in a short amount of time and make sure the brand mirrors the pop-up space.  For instance if you are selling sparkly hats and headbands, don’t lease temporary space in a dark and dreary vacant store.  And if you do, make sure to hire good renovators to make the space appeal to your buyers.  Make the sure the location is easy for your customers to find.  Don’t lease space in the part of a city people rarely visit.  Also keep your end goals in mind.  Make sure you keep an eye on ROI.  Pop-up stores will remain popular with brands both big and small.

BIO:  My name is Sophia Bennington and I write about the changing landscape in retail and e-tail.  You can find my work published across several different platforms.  I’m also a fashion blogger and you can see several of the posts I’ve written about PLIA Designs and their range of luxury designer handbags.