Market stalls the world over have long been stacked with cheap knock-offs of designer brands.
But sometimes it goes the other way – and designer brands take inspiration from the cheaper things in life. And sometimes a bag that looks like something you can pick up in your local shop can go on sale for more than half the average monthly income in the US.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
Take a bow, the new Balenciaga bag. It looks strikingly like the oversized Frakta bag you can pick up in Ikea furniture shops all over Europe – costing some loose change. But Balenciaga’s Arena Extra-Large Shopper Tote Bag will set you back $2,145 (£1,670; €2,566).
It isn’t a straight copy, of course – the Balenciaga bag is made of leather, not plastic, and the Swedish shop’s branding is missing too.
But Ikea seem to be chalking it up as a win. They told Teen Vogue: “We are deeply flattered that the Balenciaga tote bag resembles the Ikea iconic sustainable blue bag for 99 cents. Nothing beats the versatility of a great big blue bag!”
So let’s take a look at some of the other times something cheap influenced the world of fashion:
Designer paper bag. This was made by the German designer Jil Sander in the Autumn/ Winter 2012 season, hot on the heels of 2011’s copy of a plastic carrier bag. The brown paper bag, which had a waxed coating, sold out; this despite a price tag of £185 ($240).
Chanel’s Lego handbag. This looked like a child’s lunchbox and retailed at £5,370 ($6,900). It was designed by Karl Lagerfeld, and celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Rihanna and Rita Ora were spotted with it.
Sequined shopping bags. The humble Tesco and Marks & Spencer carrier bags were the inspiration of designer Ashish Gupta who, for his Spring 2014 collection, created his own version of them replete with thousands of sequins – yours for a mere £300.