Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Stam, I wish I was your owner

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.


LadyCracker said...

Hi Mel,

This is slightly off topic but you say Camberwell Market is where you saw the bag. Was it second hand?


Mel said...

Hi LC, a happy Noo-Year to you,

No, I think they were new, or very very slightly secondhand. I saw two. One was white and was in plastic; then there was a black one that also looked very new.

Scallywag said...

That shop on Brunswick Street called Eve-Olution (or similar) has beautiful knock-offs of the Stam bag - including in that gorgeous mid blue - reduced to about $80. They're the nicest I've seen ...

Michelle said...

Mel, why on earth would a grown woman want to buy a cheap knock off bag?
Firstly, PVC looks tacky tacky tacky. Secondly, think of the 5 year old kids in China working 18 hour days to stitch the piece of garbage together -- likely since it costs $40.
Thirdly, A cheap PVC handbag is not fashion, nor style. It is garbage.

Anonymous said...

You can get copies of the Stam at Illusions on Chapel St (about $110) and Mocha at Chadstone ($150), and although they're more expensive than the ones listed here, they look a lot more authentic. I have one from Illusions and it looks a lot better than my friends one from Apple Spice. I like your site btw, found it in the Herald Sun "Fashion" magazine!

Anonymous said...

can someone tell me if these bags are real leather?

Mel said...

Some are leather, some are "tacky tacky tacky" PVC. Leather will probably be harder to find and will cost more. The fun is in the search!

The Vogue Forums will probably have more information.