The variety kept increasing as the utility and choice of materials grew. In the early 1900’s popular bags were made from textiles, tiny petit point, chain mail, beads of glass, polished steel, leather and synthetics. In the 1920s, synthetic buckles of celluloid, caseine and cellulose acetate were cheaper substitutes to tortoiseshell and ivory. After the Second World War PVC, perspex and nylon became more popular materials. The rigid, transparent, lucite or brilliant sheens and colours of hard synthetics were hugely popular and the soft synthetics vied for genuine leather. This was the time the United States took to the front of fashion “hypes”.
Clutch for elegance
Bag designs shot up tremendously in the 20th century but the handbag was permanently seated in fashion. In the 20s and 30s, the flat rectangular-shaped clutches also known as pochettes or envelope bags, which are worn tucked under the arm or in the hand, were also popular after the handbag. These were introduced through fashion magazines around the First World War but the practicality of the shoulder bag briefly took its spot around the Second World War. Elegance took reign in 1947 and the 1950s, and clutches got back in again. Until today, it stays a favorite in the elegant evening accessory category.
Military Fashion Shoulder Bags
The shoulder bag was a hands-free option for the practical and busy woman. Its story dates back some centuries to Ancient Greece and the late Middle Ages. An important point in the design of bags was when Italian designer Elsa Schiaparelli designed the “functional and military look” shoulder bags in the 1930s and became popular during the Second World War. Undoubtedly, the handbag and under-arm bag were deemed more fashionable and took their positions after the war but being sporting and practical, the shoulder bag continues to have place.
The designers of the 1960s such as Mary Quant, Pierre Cardin, Paco Rabanne, Courrèges and Yves Saint Laurent broke through fashion demands with the youthful shoulder bag. The chained and cushioned Chanel bag is such an example. The short-strapped, under-the-arm ‘baguette’ Fendi in 1998, helped establish the fashionable look of the bag by its shape and by the “way it is worn”.
The Adventure Fashion
The rucksack or backpack is just recent and has a widespread following today. The Prada brand helped to set the nylon backpack trend when it launched its 1985 rucksack bag. It is especially set as the adventurers’ “companion” and which the young and old embrace for its practical no-nonsense functionality.
Social ranking in the 20th century
In the 20th century, bags can be very specific as their function. The laptop sleeve and the tote bag are, for example, among the most specific and practical designs. The term tote, meaning “to carry” was used in 1900, although the history of the tote bag can be traced back to the 17th century. With regards to the history of the laptop sleeve, it can only be as recent as the 1980s when the laptops became popular.
Brands have a big role in the fashion industry and “Hermès, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Fendi and Judith Leiber” are brands in the top designer level. Today, designer handbags and designer purses have become important high fashion accessories although so called “cheap handbags” have their role for their functionality and accessibility to a bigger population and to serve the fashion at a different level of commerce. In the case of accessibility, even the marketing of wholesale handbags and wholesale purses, can also be found in the internet.