I don't usually get excited about designer handbags, and I don't follow designer knock-offs that closely, but since early December I've been obsessed with the Marc Jacobs Stam bag, named after model Jessica Stam. It began when I saw two different examples for sale at the Camberwell Market. I thought it was quite a smart style - it takes traditional Chanel-esque quilting and the clasp frame style and makes it look quite contemporary, and I hadn't seen it anywhere in Melbourne yet. And it's quite a large, handy size, although you can get smaller versions, hobo-styled versions, and longer, shallower versions with two zips, called the "east-west Stam".
The vendors wanted $50-$60, which I thought was quite expensive for a market bag, until I did some internet research and realised it is one of those cult bags that does a roaring trade on eBay. I reasoned that surely there would be some more affordable knock-off versions of this bag for sale in Melbourne. The good folk at Sassybella advise not to buy any of the "designer inspired" versions as PVC is "a tacky look". That's a shame, because what interests me most about this bag is the subtle variation in styling in various knock-offs I've come across in Melbourne.
You see, I discovered that there really aren't that many knock-off Stams in shops here. There really aren't even that many quilted bags with chain handles. I was surprised, because a couple of years ago there were many, many bags that ripped off the key motifs of Balenciaga's motorcycle bag (the diagonal buckles, the stitched handles, the long fronds).
Here is my Stam search, with pictures...
This is the first fake Stam I saw, in Target of all places. I like the red, but you can see immediately that they have got the shape wrong, and rather than a clasp, it has a zip across the top. But on the upside, it was $40. Of course, when I went back several weeks later, they were all gone.
Aaaah, that's more like it! This was in an el-cheapo CBD shop called Femme Connection. Can you see that it even has the flat-top clasp? It was also $40 and I would totally have bought it, despite its brassy-looking chain, except that the zip on the outer pocket was broken and they didn't have another bag. Also, it was Christmas Eve and I was in a panic and couldn't be bothered talking to the staff about it.
This one I spotted in the window of a bag shop in Howey Place. You can see that the clasp isn't right, although the chain is the right colour. The shop was closed, so I don't know how much it costs.
Of course, I could just buy a knock-off from eBay, where they are actually made of leather and come in a rainbow of colours. But the thing I have really enjoyed about this search is the random surprise of finding another variation in a shop, rather than a sterile kind of "I want, I got" mentality. For me, that's half the pleasure of shopping - actually seeing what's out there.
Update: 17 January
It turns out that the bag in the last photo is $89. They have added a beige version to the window display. And while on my lunch break today I sent the following text message to my partner in Stam-huntin' crime, Lil Lu:
Omg lucy, stam!! I saw one in apple spice for $70 and it's the right size and with the right chain and clasp and they have it in red and beige too!She replied:
OMG indeed! You must get one! I want one! Although 70 is a bit steep...and i wouldn't want red or beige. Red is perfect for you though.I haven't bought the bag, as I think $70 is indeed rather expensive for a knock-off bag. But we'll see how long that kind of thriftiness can withstand my bizarre new Stam bag hunger.