Korea’s Designer Shopping Bags Craze

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 Karl’s take (in leather, natch) on the humble shopping bag

Of course, Karl Lagerfeld had been there done that. For Chanel’s Spring 2009 collection, the Kaiser played on shoppers’ fanaticism for all things double-C by making leather totes that look just like the paper shopping bags one might carry away from a Chanel boutique. Looks like he needn’t have bothered—for some, paper does the trick.

The Wall Street Journal reports on a new fad among the fashion-obsessed in Korea: collecting, buying and selling shopping bags. Apparently, e-tailers are selling the bags (empty of any actual designer products) for up to $30.

Labels like Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Prada, and Cartier are some of the most popular—in other words, don’t try listing your empty Forever 21 bag—but the name on the carryall is just one factor of its appeal.

“On top of the glossy logo, the paper is thicker and more solid compared to regular paper bags,” one seller told the Wall Street Journal.

“Just like key rings or cell phone accessories from luxury brand names used to be popular, now the trend has moved to paper bags,” Sung Young-shin, a professor of consumer psychology at Korea University, told the paper. “In Korea’s collective culture, consumption is not just personal behavior. It is not so much about my need as it is about whether other people in my peer group have it. So if your next door neighbor has it, you should have it too.”

In related news, check out our picks for the real must-have bags of the season.