This year’s spring offering for Miuccia Prada’s namesake brand was a mixture of traditionally preppy silhouettes; a smattering of vintage academic staples mixed with a decidedly contemporary twist. With the likes of Troye Sivan, and Gigi Hadid gracing the runway, the collection proposed a certain contemporary-meets-heritage-chic sensibility, with one much maligned and beloved staple reintroduced: the big bag.
Models donned large leather purses overflowing with an eclectic array of personal items, declaring the rebirth of overstuffed, larger than life carry-alls. Within the current collective trend of separating small going-out purses from practical tote bags, Miu Miu SS24 marked a glimpse of a by-gone era where purses were big and they worked – day and night.
The spring Miu Miu bags were adorned with accessories, infusing each runway look with a certain sense of personal style. Evocative of Jane Birkin’s infamously, stretched and well-worn leather namesake bags (“Birkinfied” as it has recently been termed on TikTok), Miu Miu brought out bags that were big and full of life.
With the current economic crisis creating a distinctly oppositional perspective on luxury, fashion has shifted to emphasizing garments and accessories that are, above all, functional. Miu Miu’s focus on big bags, stylized with an overflow of personal items, highlights the importance of investing in pieces that are worthy of the value they demand.
Instead of owning a multitude of sacs, satchels, and hand-bags that separate your life into tiny purses for a night out, big totes for the gym, and super compartmental totes for work, the rebirth of the big bag means less. It means celebrating that one timeless carryall that you can live in. The big bag renaissance says it’s time to stop letting bags divide up your life and time to start prioritizing a bag that is your life.
It truly is a renaissance; a rebirth of the monstrous leather hold-all’s that were slung over the crooked elbows of off-duty celebrities over a decade ago (think Mary-Kate and Ashley’s love affair with the Balenciaga city bag).
Miu Miu wasn’t the only brand to pick up on the renewed tendency toward size last season. Models at Bottega Veneta toted bags that rivaled Miu Miu’s in size and were equally functional; styled with a cascade of newspapers, work documents, and notebooks. Balenciaga fully embraced Birkinfication with a plethora of accessories decorating their loosely held bags accompanied by models carrying passports, placing their handbags in the same tier as luggage.
Over at Loewe bags were large enough to not only get you from day to night but also to support a spontaneous summer road trip. Even Hermès found inspiration in the renewed interest in the carry-all (noting their long history with innovation in the do-it-all, Birkinfied bag), filling large bucket bags with flowers from their runway set, boasting that their bags have the utility to carry luxury off-road.
The stretched buttery leather on the SS24 runways, the open zippers, and mismatched contents spilling out are all reminiscent of the bags that reigned between those economically wary years of the late 2000s and the early 2010s. A time when the bags were big and the budgets were small. That early era of this trend brought forth bags that worked from day to night, bags filled to the brim with pieces of your life, from full bottles of perfume and body lotion to after-work ballet flats stuffed haphazardly between chunky laptops and meeting notebooks. It’s all very indie-sleaze meets form and function. The result? A bag that became a signature of your personality – a bag that you’ve loved.
Show notes on the Miu Miu website describe the collection as garments that carry traces of living, the passage of time, and the existing love evidenced through prior use. The large, overstuffed accessories that hit the runway this season send a distinct message: it’s time for our bags to live life, to carry our heels in case of a night out or flat shoes in preparation for the after-work trek home, to show evidence of the lives we live and love. This renaissance of big bags reminds us that it isn’t just the bags we carry but the life we carry within them.
Hannah Verina White is a Montreal and Toronto based writer. She has a deep love for the melodramatic and nostalgic, both of which influence the way she writes and the subjects she chooses to write about.