Taiwan's well-heeled "bag ladies" are heading for Taipei 101 Mall to check out a display of luxury handbags that may well make them reach for their wallets.
Organized by Vogue Taiwan, "Bag Magic" is a dream come true for women-shoppers with bulging pocketbooks and sky-high credit limits. The exhibition features younger versions of iconic leather pieces from Celine's Boogie Bag that made its debut in 1945, to Loewe's revamped Amazona bag that was first produced in 1975, said Rosalie Huang, editor-at-large and creative director of Vogue Taiwan and Vogue China respectively.
The Taipei 101 Mall show, scheduled until January 15, 2006, is held simultaneously with premium bag exhibitions in Beijing and Shanghai, said Huang.
"Bags are huge business for fashion houses and luxury retailers," the industry watcher told the Taiwan News.
"In fact, close to 60 percent of several brands' revenues comes from accessories, and bags top that list. Sales generated by fashion accessories are much, much bigger than couture's, and that's a fact."
This says a lot about consumers' spending behavior and their attitudes toward high-end fashion, she continued.
"Today's consumers believe they can get more mileage out of branded bags and other fashion accessories than a garment," Huang explained.
"Bags are more affordable and more versatile. If you want to spruce up your wardrobe without seriously damaging your budget, you would likely do that by purchasing a handbag."
Luxury brands Celine, Dolce & Gabbana, Escada, Etro, Loewe, and Pleats Please are represented at the Taipei 101 Mall show.
Loewe's Amazona bag is a piece of art with straps, Huang said. Launched in 1975, the revived black-and-white item has kept its boxy shape. The item comprises 66 pieces of suede and is entirely handcrafted.
Escada's half-moon shaped Eluna bag is made from buckskin. Available in pink, off-white, chocolate and red, the pouch's soft and durable leather is marked with quilted seams, and features swappable handles. Attached to two large metal logos, the handles can be easily removed and exchanged for another color by simply pressing the center part of the clip to release.
Celine's Trunkette bag is designed after a vintage travel trunk. The leather is accented by polished gold metal buckles at the bag's corners. The piece also features a polished gold metal Celine plaque dangling on a removable leather tag.
The classic Boogie bag, also from Celine, is accented with polished gold hardware. This no-frills bag features an outer zipped pocket and two small snapped pockets on either side of bag.
Dolce & Gabbana has two entries to the show, a dainty black handbag-cum-shoulder bag with gold-plated chains, and a baby blue boxy bag accented with gold-plated buttons.
"That's a one-of-a-kind item," said Interculture Publicist's Linda Law, referring to D&G's blue creation.
Pleats Please's latest bag, the Tube, features an exterior that mimes Issey Miyake's trademark pleats.
Premium brands are now pushing their brands by launching bag campaigns, said Vogue's Rosalie Huang.
"Bags are integral to their marketing strategies," Huang said. "Now, many companies are digging up their bag archives, and are re-launching classic items or old-time favorites."
Men, she said, are also purchasing more bags.
"Guys are getting more picky," Huang smiled.