Call them power purses. High-end mailbags. Luxury totes. A-list clutches. Whatever the size or shape, in China, they represent a hot retail trend in luxury men’s handbags.
Luxury handbag makers have struck gold among China’s macho business class. Serving as easy status symbols, Chinese men are in hot pursuit of top brand-name bags like Hermes, Burberry, Prada, Coach, Louis Vuitton, Dunhill and Gucci.
Men now account for a whopping 45 percent of the $1.2 billion market for luxury handbags in China. That is truly huge when you consider that the male handbag trend in United States is only 7 percent.
The reasons have less to do with just wanting to look cool and more to do with serious business-ladder climbing.
A recent canvassing of Beijingers reveals that being seen with the right luxury handbag is serious business. One source said it was “crucial” because it showed he had good taste. Another was even more direct and said, “It’s a way of representing where you stand. It makes people think you could potentially work for a big company.”
To make sure they are not left behind in China’s soaring economy, Chinese men are using designer handbags to tell other high-flyers that they are smart enough to soar too.
That dynamic seems perfectly clear to Shanghai-based retail analyst Paul French. He likens the Chinese male handbag-carriers to a tribe. “They need to be able to recognize each other across the banquet table. They’re the guys that built modern China.”
Seeing double-digit growth and the level of luxury taste in an increasingly affluent Chinese population, companies like Coach saw the opportunity in China and set about creating market share.
Coach plans to open 12 locations by June which would bring its total stores in China to 53. Coach sees its sales in China tripling to $500 million in three years.
What styles attract Chinese males? King-sized wallets with wraparound zippers are big, as they hold business cards, wads of cash and smart phones. Bigger messenger-type bags are also popular. Overall, the finer the leather and fabric and the more status-wielding the trinkets and monograms, the better. Plaid, solid brown, black and gray are all in style.
photo credit: latimes, louis vuitton