Goyard and Tory Burch: 5th Avenue Styletribe, New York

It is cliche to say that New Yorkers dress in uniform, but as with most cliches, there is a kernel of truth to this one that can’t be denied.

There is also no denying that New Yorkers are stylish, they just tend to be stylish in easily identifiable groups often associated with the areas in which they live and work, ie. Williamsburg hipsters in skinny jeans and hoodies, Wall Street bankers in Brooks Brothers and 5th Avenue ladies who lunch in Chanel. Sure, you could say the same is true for Londoners as there are trends that seem to capture the imagination of Notting Hillbillies, Sloane Rangers and Hoxtonites alike, but somehow these are executed with individual panache that makes the trend their own.

In New York this past week I was staying near 5th Avenue and everywhere I looked – Starbucks, Abercrombie, crossing the street – I saw women wearing the same things:  Goyard bags and Tory Burch ballet shoes. It’s no accident that both of these items are available nearby at 5th Avenue establishment Bergdorf Goodman and trendsetting Barney’s New York, but still the sheer volume of women toting those bags and sporting those shoes was mindboggling.

Tory_2 Goyard is a 150+ year old French luggage company that has captured the interest of 5th Avenue status seekers with its coated canvas bags which, according to people I spoke to, last forever. Tory Burch, a New York socialite whose very successful label does not have the same history as Goyard, has still managed to do the same with her Reva ballet shoe, emblazened with the Tory Burch logo.

The question I have is how smart it is from a business standpoint to allow consumers to buy into a core item like Goyard’s tote as an "it bag". It’s one thing for a Fendi fashion bag to become the season’s "it bag", because those bags are usually only around for a season or two and Fendi has a whole foundation of core bag designs and silhouettes that are available season after season. These bags speak to the history of the brand and are not marketed as being ‘of the moment’. These never go out of style. Once the moment has passed for the Goyard tote, Goyard will have to reinvent its basic bag to compel more people to buy their bags in the future.  It’s much smarter to market a fashion bag as an "it bag", and allow the core items of your collection to act as the solid base from which other more seasonal bags can be developed. Goyard has done this, consciously or unconsciously, the other way around. 

Turns out I wasn’t the first to notice the Goyard trend as Bill Cunningham (aka the original Sartorialist) captured Goyard totes on countless women in his regular On The Street feature for the New York Times entitled "The Trophy" (see above). He also did an article onthe more seasonal Fendi double buckle bags and Chanel carry-alls, underlining how these experts in the fashion game have got the it bag business sorted out.

Goyard street photo courtesy of the New York Times, 10 December 2006.