Designer handbag is a 11.5 billion industry. Evidently, A lot of people want and collect designer handbags. The price of those bags range from hundreds to millions. The extravagant price tag triggers different reactions from people: disbelief, indifference, disgust, or desire. People also buy them for various reasons. Some people get them as gifts, some people get them as a token of their ideal lifestyle, and some people get them because they are the new it-bags. I am intrigued by the allure of owning such bags despite the mixed emotions and motivations. What is behind this appetite? This question directed me to experiment with the idea of creating one of most expensive and exclusive designer handbags out of disposable items. I decided to replicate the Hermes Kelly bag.
By selecting the Hermes Kelly bag, named after Grace Kelly and an early example of celebrity-favorite handbag, it magnifies the contrast between an original bag and a paper bag version. They contrast in raw material, perceived value, and creative freedom. A popular choice of Hermes Kelly bag is 32 cm wide, made of Togo leather, which is made of baby calf skin with fine texture added on. It has a neutral color with gold hardware. The bag costs at least $25,000. If you do not mind waiting for a year or two for it, since it has a long waiting list. Compared to that, the paper version only costs $35.77 for tools and materials, not including my time.
Behind the hefty price tag, it is Hermes’ brand image and people’s high demand for it. Hermes is known for its high quality material selection, elegant design, and craftsmanship. All of their bags are still made by hand. Each bag is made by a single hermes leather artisan, who has to train for 18 months. Those highly-skilled yet unnoticed craftsmen help Hermes create its brand image. For the paper bag, I experimented with ways to soften and color coarse paper bags. Instead of using thread I chose to use my hair to sew the bag together. It is also disposable, and it embodies the mixed emotions that intrigued me.