"I'm not an overhyped luxury handbag"

The Anya Hindmarch eco-tote finally arrives in the United States. Yippee.

By Thomas Rogers
June 22, 2007 5:40PM (UTC)
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Here's a bit of eco-fashion news for your Friday: The much-coveted Anya Hindmarch "I'm not a plastic bag" bag has finally hit American shores. Hindmarch, a British fashion designer whose offerings typically retail for several thousand dollars, says she created the canvas grocery tote -- emblazoned with the words "I'm not a plastic bag" -- to "raise awareness" about recycling and environmental issues. But the bag became a high-style accessory in Britain earlier this year, after it was spotted on the shoulders of celebrities like Keira Knightley.

When Hindmarch's tote went on sale in Britain in April, trend-conscious consumers lined up outside Sainsbury's grocery stores at 3 in the morning. And Wednesday, a similar frenzy began gripping America -- or at least the portion of America that likes to combine conspicuous consumption of handbags with superficial claims of environmental awareness. Despite a two-bags-per-person limit, the stock at Hindmarch's SoHo store quickly sold out, and the $15 bags have already started popping up on eBay for as much as $300.

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Ironically, Hindmarch's buzz has been besmirched by accusations that the Chinese-manufactured bags may be unethically made and not particularly environmentally friendly. Although, as touted, they are made of cotton -- not plastic -- the totes are neither organic nor fair trade. And British newspapers have also raised concerns about factory-worker wages (leading Hindmarch to post a response in the FAQ on her Web site).

For consumers interested in making a different kind of statement, British designer Marissa Vandersee has come up with an alternative. It's unlikely that her "I'm not a smug twat" bag will reach similar levels of popularity, but we can dream, can't we?


Thomas Rogers

Thomas Rogers is Salon's former Arts Editor. He has written for the Globe & Mail, the Village Voice and other publications. He can be reached at @thomasmaxrogers.

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