Consumer Imagery on Luxury Items

2:17 PM


Let me start by saying I'm a fan of both Kate Spade and of Anya Hindmarch. I definitely don't want this to be considered a "bashing" post but more so a discussion. I recently received a generic email from Kate Spade about a promotion or sale. Naturally I opened it and when seeing the image I immediately thought.... that looks like an Anya Hindmarch bag. Not in the sense that Anya has ever done a Klondike inspired bag or that it was a direct rip off but that the concept felt very similar to something that Anya would do. From that I thought it would be interesting to note and compare the work of these two primarily accessory brands.


Anya Hindmarch is an English accessory designer who's humorous attitude when it comes to designing has made her beloved for elegantly designed bags that are also a bit cheeky. She has been one of the few accessory designers that showcase their collections during London Fashion Week with each show being more innovative and exciting then the last. Her designs are playful, don't take themselves too seriously (hello Boots on boots), and most of all blur this line between high fashion and blatant consumerism. Buyers love her bags because not only are they quirky but exceptionally well made.



Kate Spade too is known for quirkiness, playful designs that lean on the more preppy side, quality is still there but not at the level of Anya. Kate, Micheal Kors, Coach... have all been lumped in this group of "affordable luxury". Which isn't necessarily a bad thing! It's an incredibly lucrative market and gives people a chance to purchase something that is higher end then they are accustom to without breaking the bank. The majority of the time the items made and sold use quality materials of leather, suede, gold/silver hardware, construction is good, and they really do have a luxury feel. And yet the minute I saw the Klondike bag my mind instantly wandered to Anya and then further how much more I enjoy Anya's taking of cultural brands and her ability to make a luxury item out of it.


To me, Anya is successful because she is able to take well known brands, icons, symbols and utilize them in a way that is fresh and different - though recognizable but not in a cringe worthy way. She creates patterns, simplifying imagery, color, placement, texture, size are all taken in to consideration. So while you may buy a bag with the Kellogg rooster on it the fact that it placed at the bottom of the bag, oversize, partially cut off,  simplified and decorated with a gorgeous tassel makes it feel less like you're advertising and more like you're in on the joke.

Which is exactly what I don't like about the Kate Spade interpretation of the Klondike imagery. It is so close to the actual item that it becomes almost like one of those novelty gifts you find at the mall. Not meant to be used, simply to elicit a few laughs, and then moved on. It doesn't have the same sense of humor or wearability that Anya's designs do because there isn't anything design wise that says it is a luxury item.

More and more designers are taking this approach to utilizing pop culture icons, items, etc into high fashion designs and while some are successful - I'm looking at you Jeremy Scott for Moschino and Anya Hindmarch - in this case Kate Spade simply fell flat.

Top Photo : Kate Spade Promotional Email // Anya Hindmarch Photos: Vogue // Kate Spade Product Photo: Chic Launches

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