Monday, December 17, 2007

The shopping bag Bag

(Retailers are giving shopping bags a makeover, turning consumers into walking ads. At left, Lord & Taylor bags; center, a bag from Lululemon Athletica; at right, the Scoop bag.)

Do you save and reuse the shopping bags if they are particularly nice and durable? Do you actually covet ones from upscale retailers and tote them proudly like a second purse?

Once a flimsy afterthought in American retailing — used to lug a purchase home from the store, then tossed into the trash — the lowly, free store bag is undergoing a luxurious makeover.

From upscale emporiums to midprice chains, retailers are engaged in a heated competition to make the most durable, fashionable shopping bags. They are investing millions of dollars in new flourishes like plastic-coated paper (Macy’s and Juicy Couture) and heavy fabric cord handles (Abercrombie & Fitch and Scoop).

Behind the battle of the bags is a significant shift in behavior that has turned consumers into walking billboards for stores. In cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, customers have begun treating shopping bags as disposable purses that can be reused for weeks, if not months, to carry laundry to the cleaners, books to the beach or lunch to the office.

Lord & Taylor’s bags threaten to upstage those of its glossier rivals, like the ultrachic Bergdorf Goodman, whose traditional lavender bags, emblazoned with the image of well-dressed Park Avenue ladies, are thin and frail by comparison. Its handles, for example, are taped on, rather than threaded through the bag and tied into a knot, as they are at Lord & Taylor.

Not to be outdone, Bergdorf has spent nearly a year secretly redesigning its bags, which will be introduced to consumers in fall 2008. Its goal? “Something with greater longevity than the existing bag — a keep-me quality that does not feel disposable,” said Aidan Kemp, vice president for advertising at Bergdorf.

Read the rest of the article Never Mind What’s in Them, Bags Are the Fashion.


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