It might seem a little suspicious that after a bit of 3.1 Phillip Lim Pashli satchel loving from a few notable sites, it's popped up here. From here to the end of the post, it's one long line of defence because as most of you know, I'm notoriously dubious about so called IT bags. The fact that one of the news stories about the Pashli was supported by that ubiquitous dangling carrot in the bag selling world - "It's sold out and already has a waiting list!" - should have had me running for the hills.
What has normally got me riled up about bags hailed as 'IT' in the past pretty much concurs with the assessment of what I regard as a fairly dated phenomenon by Tomas Maier, creative director of Bottega Veneta, quoted from the brilliant New Yorker piece. "The It Bag is a totally marketed bullshit crap. You make a bag, you put all the components in it that you think could work, you send it out to a couple of celebrities, you get the paparazzi to shoot just when they walk out of their house. You sell that to the cheap tabloids, and you say in a magazine that there's a waiting list. I don't believe that's how you make something that's lasting - that becomes iconic as a design."
I'm more interested in seeing the meaning of IT transfer to the bag itself. What makes it IT shouldn't be who carries it, the length of the waiting list it has garnered and in some cases the shock value of how many figures it can reach in price but instead, we should look at the bag itself to weigh up what makes IT worth the smackeroons we're forking out for it.
In the case of Phillip Lim's Pashli satchel, despite the IT chit chat, it is a design born totally out of function and not out of frippery, an idea that took hold of me as I looked at my own collection of fun/novelty bags that didn't actually function that well. "It stemmed from the idea of motorcycle bags, every detail has a function and it is ultimately a pragmatic bag. It goes back to the lifestyle of the Phillip Lim girl – she is a working girl, she is real she wears things from day to night from day to day. For me it is really important for the bag to work for the wearer and not the other way round." explains Lim.
Cue a design that on some blogs has claimed vague comparisons to Celine's Luggage Tote, something I don't seem to see having copped a feel of both. If anything there is an improvement on structure faciliated by the main feature of the bag which are the zippered gussets. Zipped up, the bag takes on a slightly formal form and then you tell it to relax a bit and the zippers come down to a) give you a bit more room and b) slouches the whole thing so it doesn't look so prissy.
I don't see many pinked edges in bags. Along with the grainy leather, they contribute a sort of neat ruggedness - yes, I need to get oxymoronic when talking cluelessly about bags...
If I'm not superb at getting technically descriptive about bags like the Bag Snob girls do then all I can say is that I 'feel' quality in the bag. Everywhere my fingers run up and down the bag, in manner of naff erotically charged Magnum adverts (does one really run their fingers up a chocolate ice cream lolly?), it just feels good - the zippers zip good, the clasp clasps good, the handle handles good - you get the idea. Bag done good. I don't really know exactly how the price difference of a four to five figure bag translates in feel and use and whether it is say ten times better in feel/quality as the a more moderately priced bag as the Pashli is.
Phillip Lim has of course made a name in bridging high-end with affordable, forging a middle ground in fashion that purposely means you get bang for your buck and likewise the bag at around £600 adheres to that USP. It's not by any means 'cheap', but at this stage with how I value the worth of a 'working' bag, one that is supposed to have stuff chucked in it on a daily basis to use with brutal and negligent force (I'm a user and abuser unfortunately when it comes to bags...), then the price seems almost reasonable in comparison to the four/five-figure stonkers that are available...
I've never owned a 'chuck everything in and hope for the best' sort of bag because I don't mind splitting up the weight between totes and smaller bags. However in choosing the Pashli to lose my 'all-purpose, all-carrying' bag virginity with, I expect it to be able to hold quite a bit of heft. This will probably be the average amount of crap I'll lug around (about 5kg) with the little bag inside the big bag as a security blanket.
Going back to the dismantling of the connotations of an IT bag, Lim himself has a more pragmatic approach towards the phenomenon and how it will shift. "It’s the golden rule of human nature – everyone wants to attain the unattainable! Anything that is harder to have is immediately more desirable. The culture has shifted slightly for sure as people feel like they want to rebel against the idea of the ‘IT’ bag but they are being subliminally taken in without them even knowing! The street term is ‘down-low’ these bags are now more anonymous and aesthetically understated the focus is now on how a bag is mage and its quality…."
I suppose in a way, I'm one of those that have been taken in, swayed by the understated look and realistic pricing of the Pashli satchel despite having initial misgivings towards the hyped up chit-chat surrounded in. I'll consciously acknowledge all of that but take nothing away from the fact that the Pashli fulfills a quota of function and aesthetic value, which is all the I ask of IT.
Note on pricing/sizing: Curiously on Net-a-Porter the bag is £200 more expensive than it is on Far Fetch (comes in black on Far Fetch as well as in the other larger tote size). Not sure how that stacks up once duty and VAT is imposed on the Far Fetch sale. Saks Fifth Avenue has it in the lovely inky blue and jade green - good for US customers but alas us EU folk get whacked with a ton of duty/tax fees.