Who Would Buy This Thing? is a series that spotlights particularly egregious commercial objects and tries to imagine who might indeed pay money to own them.
Move over Kanken backpacks, there’s a new extravagantly expensive faux-utilitarian trend slithering onto a sidewalk near you. According to Who What Wear, intentionally cheap-looking designer totes are this season’s new fashion obsession. “Once the throwaway bag you used to carry your groceries home from the store or transport your takeout food, the ubiquitous ‘Thank You’ shopper bag has been reappropriated by designers and rendered in materials as luxurious as python leather,” writes Anne LaPlanca. Though similar items have been spotted in the past at slightly overpriced museum gift shops, fashion houses from Balenciaga to Elizabeth and James are now putting their own spin on the reimagined bodega bag.
Which brings me to what is perhaps the most unhinged iteration of this trend, dreamed up by fashion designer and Parsons alum Gelareh Mizrahi. Retailing for an eyebrow-raising $1500, the “’Thank You’ Python Tote Bag” is a tote made out of, you guessed it, python—white, to be specific. “Appliquéd at the front with red and tonal ‘Thank You’ python lettering,” the handmade tote bag is lined with black suede and apparently “showcases the label’s tongue-in-cheek approach to design.” Mizrahi assures us that the python is sustainably sourced—I’m not entirely sure how you sustainably source python, but I also didn’t go to the Parsons School of Design. Maybe there they also teach you how to get multiple people to spend over a grand on a bag that gives the same effect as carrying around one of the dozens of plastic bags most people keep under the kitchen sink?
Normcore, of which these designer shopper bags are decidedly a part, appropriates that which is cheap and affordable, such as plastic bags or Crocs, and makes them fashion by making them extraordinarily expensive. (The Gelareh Mizrahi python tote bag does, however, manage to make the $590 clear Celine plastic bag look positively affordable.) Normcore makes inaccessible that which it fetishizes, and the items that it produces are, without much exception, trite. What exactly is tongue-in-cheek about cribbing a ubiquitous design and transposing it in python leather and black suede? Still, there might be something I’m missing: At the time of writing, there is currently only one “Thank You” bag left even though it’s only available for pre-order. So, if you have almost two grand to blow on a tote and want to look like you’re eternally carrying a bag of greasy take-out around, you’ll to have act fast.
Who Would Buy This Thing? A herpetologist with a normcore Cruella de Ville streak