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The oversized, striped leather totes that creative director Demna Gvasalia sent down the Balenciaga runways back in March may be the latest It-bag to hit stores, but they’re not as “exclusive” as its $2,525 price tag suggests.
Balenciaga is calling the new styles “Bazar” shopper bags, and they were one of the highlights of Gvasalia’s much-anticipated debut at the house during the fall 2016 runway shows at Paris Fashion Week.
The line-up includes three different colorways in large (as seen on the runway) for $2,525; medium-sized versions for $1,645; pouches for $585, and two smaller wallets — one with a flap top ($545) and one with a zipper ($565).
While Vogue and WWD praised the collection, the Thai fashion community immediately took to social media with jokes about how much the bags resembled traditional plastic shopping and laundry bags in Thailand.
As Balenciaga’s name for the collection suggests, these large totes can be found in actual bazars and markets in Thailand for roughly $2.
This isn’t the first time Gvasalia put a really expensive twist on a cheap item. For his own label, cult fashion favorite Vetements, he produced $330 DHL T-shirts, $1,460 reconstructed Levi’s, $735 Champion-inspired hoodies, and a $924 copy of Snoop Dogg’s tour merch T-shirt that even confused Snoop himself.
What make these totes legitimately frustrating, though, is Gvasalia’s obliviousness to the original Thai bags. In an interview with The Telegraph this May, the designer appeared confused when he described an encounter with an older woman who stopped him on the street to ask about this same tote. He tells The Telegraph reporter:
This is just a prototype, but the number of people who have stopped me in the street to ask where it's from. Even an old lady came up to tell me this morning that she had the same one at home. I thought, 'I don't think it is ...'
Gvasalia’s not the only designer to take inspiration from cheap totes, although when Céline’s Phoebe Philo mimicked the pattern of plastic French shopping for her fall 2013, it felt more self-aware.
You can get your hands on Balenciaga’s “Bazar” shopper bags online and in Balenciaga stores today, but if you’re not looking to blow two stacks on a purse, you can find cheaper alternatives from Peru at Sincerely, Tommy for $50. Or you can take a trip to Thailand and get the real deal yourself. We hear the price has gone up to $3 in some places since their Balenciaga debut.