There was a time, not too long ago, before the recession, when every season there was a new “It” bag. They cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and had months long waiting lists. The most stylish celebrities would get them for free, before the rest of us, creating frenzy among fashionistas every time they were photographed. From the Fendi Spy bag, the Chloe Paddington, and the Balenciaga City Motorcycle bag women waited and ruined their credit for a chance to have some status in the fashion world. The insatiable desire for the bag everyone had fueled the success of websites like Bag, Borrow, Or Steal- (rent it for a fraction of the cost and change your bag as often as you want!) but as the economy faltered carrying a status symbol, “It” bag started to seem like a sin. How could you justify a thousand dollar bag when Americans were losing their jobs? This doesn’t mean women stopped buying such expensive bags but they were more discreet- no longer carrying the instantly recognizable (the Marc Jacobs Stam) or heavily l (like any of the Louis Vuitton Speedys) but classic, anonymous bags like Rebecca Minkoff’s matinee bags or Proenza Schouler’s PS 1 bags.

Lately, everywhere I go in Massachusetts it seems like I can’t escape Longchamp’s Le Pliage tote! From sorority girls to grandmas everyone is carrying a Le Pliage! For all their popularity I’ve never seen them in an advertisement or on the arm of a celebrity but they’ve become ubiquitous for day. It makes some sense, after all the nylon and leather totes come in a variety of colors and sizes; They can even be completely customized on the Longchamp website! In addition, they are relatively inexpensive for a designer handbag. Have they become the anti-It bag It bag?

Boston College grad student, Brittany Erickson says, “I’m not a big “bag” person, but I love it! Now that I have one I feel like I belong to some kind of Longchamp group since almost every girl at BC has one. Kind of ridiculous!” The Le Pliage starts at $98 and can go up to $175 depending on size and style…is it worth the price tag? As the Boston Herald’s Simone Press pointed out, “At the end of the day, it’s plastic. I love mine but after about a year holes in the corners have formed.” Brittany agrees, “Actually, the major flaw is that they all seem to fray at the corners fairly easily.” Still, both women carry the bag almost daily as its large enough to carry notebooks, a laptop, a sweater and other odds & ends easily so it makes for a great school bag. But is being part of the “club” enough to overlook the flaws like fraying and a lack of extra pockets? “I think it’s a cute bag,’ Brittany continues, “but I wouldn’t get another one. If it is going to start to fray in less than a year I’m not willing to spend more than $30 on it! I don’t care enough about designer to pay for the label.”

But for many women the Le Pliage inspires a fierce loyalty. Blogger Martika Marshall carries her black Le Pliage “religiously” and has even started collecting the limited editions by guest designers like Jeremy Scott. Victoria Hart insists, “They’re all I use (apart from evening bags) because they are so convenient and durable!” Heather Marshall agrees, “I own three of them and I’ve used one every day for three years of law school to carry textbooks and my Macbook pro and it has held up amazingly well!” It seems as if most women use them as a school bag, which explains their popularity in a college town like Boston and they look chic on the arms of busy twenty-somethings who need to carry a lot during the day.

I love oversized totes bags as much as the next girl but so far I’ve resisted the siren song of the Le Pliage. While I do feel weak at the knees over many of the exclusive “It” bags the utter ubiquity of the Le Pliage has been a turn off. Still, I can see the extra large totes in a rare print or color as being a great carry-on or overnight bag but for day-to-day use I really need a lot of pockets and structure.

Whether you want to stand out in the crowd or passionately love Longchamp’s Le Pliage here are some great tote bag suggestions…


  1. I do both- I have 2 Longchamps and I really like for carrying lots of stuff. But I have my unique pieces too.
    I actually really want a white Longchamp…I like the juxtaposition against the brown leather 🙂

  2. I have to say, I'm a little underwhelmed by these. For a while Gap sold a look-alike, so everywhere I went I noticed girls carrying the real thing and the Gap version, but honestly sometimes I couldn't tell the difference. For a designer bag, they look pretty cheap. I've always been a Coach kind of girl, but over the years their quality has diminished as well. It's sad. Now I hope to one day own a Chanel and not be disappointed!

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