Blog Header
The Insights Blog

Dedicated To Helping Readers
Be More Interesting
Since 2004.

As Featured In:

The Perfect Handbag

I2m_louisvuittonhandbag For a woman, the perfect handbag is an illusion worth chasing.  Handbags are not functionality, they are an expression of style and personality.  As a result, they are almost sacred.  From my numerous voluntary (and involuntary) discussions on the subject with many women, I have uncovered that there are five brands of handbags that are truly worth owning … Prada, Coach, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Burberry.  Unlike other elements of a woman’s wardrobe, individuality is not rewarded here.  When people recognize your purse, know the maker and perhaps even have one of their own, that’s a good thing.  What is most startling about this world of handbags, though, is how uniformly ugly they are (um, that would be my opinion, not what the women said of course).  The Louis Vuitton bags are a muddy brown color covered with clip-art style icons in a checkered pattern.  They are quite possibly the ugliest piece of accessory or luggage I have ever seen … and everyone wants one.  The Burberry bags all look like their equally popular line of scarves, with plaid checks and a tan color so well recognized on their products, Crayola should rename it "Burberry Tan."

But despite my dislike or other’s like of these designs, surely design cannot account for their immense popularity.  There is something more at work here.  As Tom Ford, former designer at Gucci said, "If a bag is attractive, it makes you feel good by default.  It’s all about proportion, shape, line, finish, fabric, balance.  If all of that is pleasing it will sell.  More than that, it’s like you’ve gotta have it or you’ll die."  Fake or real, handbags are a must have — more important even, than shoes to accessorize a woman’s wardrobe.  Why?  Because handbags are more closely tied to a woman’s aspirational personality than another other piece of fashion.  It is an expression of what group you want to be considered part of – but you have to choose a group.  In handbags, you don’t start your own group.  As a result, handbags are a testament to the old mass market view where we all fit a demographic.

Contrast this with a woman’s experience online, where she can choose how her screen appears, what her username will tell others about her, what photos to post online to create herself, and how to build a virtual identity.  Many women have vibrant online personalities, each unique and distinctive.  With Yahoo’s new Shoposphere, users can even share shopping pick lists in Yahoo’s self proclaimed move from ecommerce to "me commerce." Online, individuality is awarded and celebrated.  But individuality is often at odds with the desire to belong to a group.  Most will agree it’s tough to stand out and fit in all at once.  So perhaps there is room for both – and there is a place for the aspirational mass personality.  If only it wasn’t symbolized by such ugly handbags. 

10 thoughts on “The Perfect Handbag”

  1. Hmm, the only handbag I had was gifted to me by my sis-in-law. Before that, I managed without one for about 30 years of my life! For two years I had this one handbag only untill yesterday. My husband bought one for me without my knowing.

    And Prada and Gucci? I am not even going anywhere near them, ever.

  2. I love some designer handbags but not the ones that all look just a like. I want what most do not have. I am a dreaming handbag designer. I knit and felt 100% wool bags. At this time I can walk thru the mall and get lots of likes for my handbag which am carring, no one else has one. Hopefully that will change one day.

  3. I agree with everything except the part about “real or fake”. Where I live (West Los Angeles), if you’re walking around with a fake bag, you’re being laughed at! It sucks and it’s totally superficial, I know, but hey you gotta adapt! haha. I can’t really afford to buy all the bags I want anyway, though. That’s why I rent them!

  4. I would rather see someone buy a unique bag than a fake of any of the above. Obviously to pay that much for a handbag you are satisfying more than a need to contain and carry your essentials. However, when you see some of these handbags they do stand out from all of the others and I guess a person will too by association with their bag.


Leave a Comment

Vector Smart Object

About Rohit

A keynote speaker on trends, innovation, marketing, storytelling and diversity.

Rohit Bhargava is on a mission to inspire more non-obvious thinking in the world. He is the #1 Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of eight books and is widely considered one of the most entertaining and original speakers on disruption, trends and marketing in the world.

Rohit has been invited to keynote events in 32 countries ā€¦ and over the past year, given more than 100 virtual talks from his home studio. He previously spent 15 years as a marketing strategist at Ogilvy and Leo Burnett and also teaches marketing and storytelling as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University.

He loves the Olympics, actively hates cauliflower and is a proud dad of boys.

Rohit Bhargava About (1)


Do you need a speaker that can help your audience be more innovative and anticipate the future?

For more than a decade, Rohit Bhargava has been inspiring audiences at NASA, Disney, Schwab, Microsoft, SXSW, Coca-Cola and hundreds of other clients with his signature non-obvious keynote presentations. He is a master at weaving recent stories into his talks in a way that helps audiences better understand the world today, while also preparing to lead the future.

Non Obvious Insights
Layer 97
Non Obvious Insights Newsletter
Layer 118

Skip the obvious and anticipate the future with our weekly newsletter. Join over 25,000 subscribers and start receiving the stories (and insights) youā€™ve been missing.


#1 WSJ & USAToday Bestselling Author

Rohit is the author of 8 books on trends, the future of business, building a more human brand with storytelling and how to create a more diverse and inclusive world.

Vector Smart Object


Have a Question or Inquiry?

Just fill out this form, and weā€™ll get back to you within 24 hours!

About You

What Are You Contacting Us About*:

Your Message