Cardboard Clutch

Pieces from Raf Simons‘ final menswear collection for Jil Sander (Autumn/Winter 2012) have now made their appearance in retail stores. Fittingly, many of the now iconic items are selling like hotcakes, particularly the gorgeous whale and dinosaur sweaters made from a luxurious blend of camel wool. The one accessory that has caught my eye (and subsequently my brain) is a clutch resembling the form of a sandwich bag. The clutch comes in two distinctly different fabrics: leather and coated paper (also in black). The leather version (which I have heard is all but sold out) is emblematic of the entire collection, which juxtaposes brooding leather pieces with childlike forms and motifs.

What really captivates me, however, is the cardboard version. As I understand it, the leather version of this clutch is appropriate for the luxury market that I would say the Jil Sander brand is a part of. Furthermore, the juxtaposition between form and material makes this piece successful in irony and humour. Contrast this with the cardboard version, which on the surface appears to be just a regular sandwich bag, though it is crafted from coated paper and constructed using stitching. (One would assume that the quality would be at least the equivalent of the pieces Naoto Fukasawa designed for Siwa.)

Here, Raf Simons is presenting a terrific sequel to the transparent market bags that were big a couple of seasons ago. As they both derived from low brow culture (for instance, the ‘sandwich bag’ was apparently inspired by brown paper McDonalds takeaway bags), their place within the context of a luxury market is a cheeky and ironic statement. Furthermore, their relative inexpensiveness and fashionable status make them quite disruptive within a market that churns out thousand-dollar handbags. For this reason and the conversations about value it forces us into, I find the ‘sandwich bag’ to be quite daring.