Luxury fashion designer Balenciaga has released a Italian leather version of IKEA's iconic utilitarian shopping bag, leading one to assume the world has lost its mind.
In the off chance that you enjoy hauling around utilitarian shopping bags to fancy functions, luxury fashion designer Balenciaga has released an upscale version of IKEA’s iconic Frakta bag – you know, the bright blue one with double yellow-and-blue straps that flops open and is too heavy to lift when it’s full.
The big difference? IKEA’s bag costs a buck, whereas Balenciaga’s “Arena Extra-Large Shopping Tote” will put you back US $2,145.
Well, there are a few more differences than that. The Arena’s body and handles are made from “blue wrinkled glazed leather” with a gold-stamped logo at the top. A zipper keeps the contents in place. It’s lined with black fabric and has a key-ring lanyard inside. Oh, and it’s made in Italy.
The Frakta, by comparison, is made from cheap plastic propylene, a.k.a. tarpaulin material, its provenance undisclosed on the IKEA website. It’s designed to withstand hard-core shopping, and, according to IKEA’s advertising agency ACNE, dirt, hockey gear, bricks, and even a hose-down.
While some companies might be offended by the copycat move, IKEA says it’s flattered by Balenciaga’s imitation. ACNE’s director Johan Holmgren called the move “unexpected and brilliant. He said, “I like the flirt, and I thought, ‘Why not flirt back?’ And we did.” The agency released the following response to Balenciaga, explaining how to recognize an original bag:
Stella Monteiro, sales leader for IKEA Ireland and UK, has an unusual take on it. She sees the elevation of the bag’s design as making high fashion accessible to the masses:
“Our IKEA Frakta tote is one of our most iconic products which are already owned and loved by millions – now the many people truly can get the designer look for less.”
I’m not sure I follow her logic. A cheap original is imitated by a luxury fashion house, meaning people with the cheap original now own a designer look? To me, it seems more like the rich buyers are really just foolish owners of a cheap, utilitarian bag design.
While there is something to be said for caring about the ethics and quality that go into the production of accessories like bags, Balenciaga is taking it to the extreme. Instead, take your Frakta to a local tailor. I bet he or she will be able to add a zipper for a few bucks. Then just think of all the IKEA furniture you’ll be able to buy with that extra money.