Frugal fashionistas have last laugh with sliced-and-diced handbags
Switched-on entrepreneurs and pennywise fashionistas have found a hack to the ever accelerating product cycles being foist upon the market by the Guccis of the world.
The answer is harvesting old handbags to make something new.
Lee Soo-kyeong, 36, an office worker in Seoul, sent her decade-old Louis Vuitton handbag to a chop shop. She paid the company 300,000 won ($257), and voilà, it was returned to her in the form of a small cross-body bag and a wallet.
“The tote bag was very expensive when I bought it a decade ago. I couldn’t use it because the design was so out of fashion, but it was too good to throw away,” Lee said. “I tried to sell it through a secondhand online market, but the maximum amount I could receive was only about 200,000 won."
“It cost at least 500,000 won to buy a new wallet from a luxury brand,” she added. “I’m happy that I could get a new bag plus a wallet using an old bag that I haven't used for few years.”
According to Leather Monster, a company specializing in the slicing, dicing and reconfiguring of luxury products, the number of orders is up five-fold these days compared to 2019. Louis Vuitton and Gucci are the two most popular brands in the world to stitch into new products, as most of bags from the brands are made of polyvinyl chloride, which can easily be cut and redesigned. They have unique patterns that can be used in making new bags.
Most people ask for big bags to be made into smaller bags with the increasing popularity of smaller items, such as phone-holder bags, according to Leather Monster. Young people consider sending their luxury goods in for an overhaul even though the repurposed products are no longer covered for after-sales service by brands.
Customers can customize the design depending on their taste, which attracts young people.
They share photos of their new-old bags via social media.
“Although it is true that fashion goes around and comes around, storing old big-sized bags without using them is such a waste of space, energy and money,” said a source from the fashion industry. “It’s also a lot of work to store leather bags because people must clean them regularly.”
The market for remaking bags is growing, along with the resale market.
“As more Koreans now consume luxury goods, there is an emerging market related to the products, including reselling and repurposing,” said Seo Yong-gu, a business professor at Sookmyung Women’s University. “This market will grow as much as the luxury market in the future.”
Lee Eun-hee, a professor who teaches consumer science at Inha University, agrees with Seo.
“Although young people earn less than the older people, they have a strong desire to own luxury fashion items,” said Lee. “In order for them to own various items at cheap prices, demand for repurposing or refurbishment is likely to rise."
BY SARAH CHEA, BAE JUNG-WON [email@example.com]