The early '2000s It bag that deserves to make a comeback
If you know, you know
Welcome to 2020 where instead, you want to live your best early 2000's life. In our new column #NeverForget, we reminisce and take a deep dive into some of the forgotten (and perhaps, should remain forgotten) trends of the past.
Here's a POV: You're your *insert whatever age* self in 2005. Kim Kardashian was still Paris Hilton's long-suffering assistant and Don't Cha by The Pussycat Dolls was the world's workout anthem. You might even have used the lyrics from Push the Button by Sugababes as a passive-aggressive MSN status to your crush.
But for this author, I was a 13-year-old chick with a voracious (albeit clichéd) appetite for Vogue. Movies and McDonald's with friends or purchasing the fashion bible in the height of its relevancy? Well, who needs friends when you're a slightly emotionally stunted teenager right?
Nestled in one of those issues, however — specifically the September issue — was a picture that still has a psychological hold on me till today. It was Karen Elson in a knit dress carrying a worn-out Marc Jacobs Stam (was this a sample that had seen better days?) that held a cat inside.
Call me dramatic but that was one of the few moments in my life where my synapses fired upon seeing a piece of fashion. For those unattuned to that feeling, it's the one you get when you kiss a hot boy with a sizeable amount in his CPF and no mummy issues; that warmth in your stomach when you sink your teeth into a meal after a colonic irrigation, or the electricity coursing through your body because like you, your electrical appliances aren't grounded.
The bag wasn't just a $1,900 shoulder breaking piece of leather. It was a bag that signified what it meant to be a successful grown-up to me. A bag that was manufactured out of an old school aspirational quality; that it would transform me into a power-fashion chick if I held it in my clammy hands.
But first, let's talk about the other #winning attributes of the Stam. Firstly, it was one of the bags in recent years that was named after a person herself (it started as early as the Hermès Birkin after actress Jane Birkin, and ended as late with the Marc Jacobs BB after social media influencer Bryan Boy).
Namely, Jessica Stam; a blonde Canadian (PS: she was scouted in her local coffee shop while the rest of us mortals get passive-aggressive comments and misspelt names from the staff) that was picking up speed in the fashion world. While most would remember her terrible trip in Chloé's fall/winter 2006 show, we remember her for her insane runway streak in the year itself.
She walked a total of 64 shows across all three big fashion weeks, and the bag was created as a means for her to tote her portfolio around. Stam was already somewhat of a muse to the designer, having already appeared in an ad campaign for his now-defunct secondary label, Marc by Marc. Then again, if you're a Gen Z-er who doesn't think of it as a big thing because of the Hadids and Jenners, we're going to humbly request that you click out of our site.
Ok, just kidding.
Jessica Stam in a Marc by Marc campaign shot by Juergen Teller
While Stam seemed to have forgotten the legacy of her eponymous bag in recent years (the audacity!!!), a simple search on Twitter will show you how many women still aspire to own this bag. While it helped that the Stam was released at the height of Marc Jacob's popularity, it was the way Stam pulled off the bag with her nonchalant off-duty style that cemented its appeal. She wore it sans makeup, with ratty clothing (that you still knew were designer) and made it look less precious than it really was.
you wasn’t a it-girl unless you has a Marc Jacobs Stam bag or a givenchy nightingale #ifyouknowyouknow— court (@itgirlcourt) October 26, 2019
In an era where street style photographers like Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist (erm, before he became problematic) and Tommy Ton of Jak & Jil blew up, one could even attribute the success they had early on in their careers to the public's interest in the models like Stam (and Vlada, Magdalena, Snejana, Tanya, Gemma, Agyness, Caroline, Suvi, Freja, Raquel...) that they frequently documented.
Fresh, fun, non-pretentious women just going about their jobs in fashion; albeit raking in the dough and looking great at the same time — even if they only had two hours of sleep in-between shows. The term "model-off-duty style" was coined, and Stam's photos ruled the Tumblr blogs.
Stylish models outside of shows are now photographed as reguarly as show attendees
Let it be known too that an It bag really does signify the times we lived in. The Prada Nylon signified the functionality of the '80s where working out was sexy. The Fendi Baguette held a special place in the '90s, especially by women aspiring to be a I'll-try-anything-once New York sex columnist with a rent-controlled apartment. And the Marc Jacobs Stam of the '2000s? It signified a grown-up sophistication that my peers and I aspired to.
And of course it didn't help my psyche either to camp outside the Marc Jacobs store as a teen, just to gaze at the Stams in the display window and watch the women saunter in, and then out again with a giant paper bag.
While I now have amassed a small collection of early noughties It bags in the present — the Chloé Paddington, YSL Muse, and the Fendi Spy - my heart still skips a beat whenever I see their alternatively coloured siblings on The Real Real for cheap. (PS: I still love my #OldCelines and #ClareWaightKellerGivenchys and #DanielLeeBottegas)
Does it signify a problem with fashion being too trend-led since the minimalism wave of the '90s? My credit card billing says so. Does it, however, also prove my theory that a bag that is evocative of a dream — be it that of a pimply teenager or a woman stepping out into the workforce for the first time — can signify cultural context?
You bet. And FYI, there is a python handled Stam going for less than US$200 on The Real Real. Now that's what dreams are made of.