A woman’s handbag is her most valuable daily possession. It is her portable jewellery box, her safe, her portable assistant and her closest ally. It contains her identity, her look, her work, her connection to the world and God knows what else. But as our attention span shortens and Tweets become the new short stories, we choose new allies every day, need new looks every week. Being a women’s handbag is just not as stable a job as it used to be.

This fashion trend cycle applies to numerous accessories and clothes and, as good as it is for the economy, is at the top of my fashion sins list. However, this is what we love all love about fashion isn’t it? Just as soon as we feel we’ve put the finishing touches on our curated wardrobe, something new taps us on the shoulder and informs us that leggings can now be worn as pants.

The trend cycle is strongest amongst university students in their 20s. Raised in the era of the Internet and “Just-in-time”, where what we know and feel changes periodically, clothes and accessories are no longer faithful allies that can be relied on for years.

Keen to understand the drive behind the university fashion cycle, I asked 100 women between the age 18 and 22 to name the top three qualities they look for in their fashion when shopping for it. 68 answered “a low price” whilst only 19 answered “durability”. When specifically questioned about buying handbags, that low price translated into 51% of university-going women only spending between £10 and £30 on their handbags. Yes, 88% of the those surveyed stated that the style of the bag is amongst their top concerns, but that style is considered against a very low price.

Any fashion bought on these terms isn’t expected to have a long lifespan. This obviously translates into a lack of quality from certain makers who would rather concentrate on cutting overheads to stay afloat amidst the rise in number of fast fashion high street shops.

But what kind of a safe breaks soon after being purchased? What kind of ally turns on you before you even get acquainted? If a handbag contains a woman’s identity, what is to be said about the fact that 66 percent of said women buy a new one every 3 to 6 months? There is definitely a parallel, or at least a common factor, between youth’s instability and desire to explore different personalities and this segment of fashion’s cycles.

Fashion is great. It is forever changing. It can be cheap; it can be expensive. But one thing that fashion should not be, is expendable.

Read more of this series

  1. University fashion: trends & influences
  2. What to wear to Fresher’s week
  3. Following fashion on a student budget
  4. A short study on expendable fashion
  5. Preppy vs Sporty
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