Winsy Tsang, Head of Sale for Handbags and Accessories at Christie’s in Hong Kong, explains why luxury handbags are having a moment with fashionable men in Asia
‘When men come to buy a bag, they’re hunters. They know exactly what they want,’ says Winsy Tsang, Head of Sale for Handbags & Accessories at Christie’s in Hong Kong.
In the last few years, Tsang notes, ‘demand for exceptionally rare and fine men’s handbags has surged enormously in the sophisticated Asian market. I see many stylish men coming in to Christie’s to find bags that suit them.’
This trend reflects wider changes in the handbag market, the specialist explains. ‘In the past 10 to 15 years, luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Fendi and Dior have really started to develop their Men’s business.’ The hiring of innovative creative directors such as Kim Jones, who has recently joined Dior Homme, and Hedi Slimane, who will introduce menswear at Celine, portend further developments to come.
Responding to this growing appetite, Christie’s Hong Kong handbag specialists are increasingly looking to source a wide range of collectibles for men, ‘focusing on pieces with true artistry, craftsmanship, timeless design and practicality, for day or night and at every budget,’ Tsang says.
If a few years ago men would ‘just need one bag to go everywhere’, things have changed, the specialist says. ‘They like to have a bag for work, and a bigger bag for travel, or for walking around the city.’ Ultimately, she adds, they’re looking for ‘a bag they can wear all day but that also shows off their style.’
Matthew Rubinger, Christie’s International Director of Handbags & Accessories, confirms he sees ‘strong interest’ in men’s pieces with clients requesting these season after season. ‘We have had a hard time keeping supply with demand,’ he admits. ‘This seems to be a reflection of the wider market where the growth of men’s fashion, and in particular accessories and shoes, has outpaced that of women’s for many key brands.’
Men are now looking for ‘a bag they can wear all day but that also shows off their style’
On 30 May in Hong Kong, Christie’s Handbags & Accessories sale will feature several of the most coveted men’s handbags on the market, including the Hermès Birkin 45 & 50. The Birkin ‘is the most iconic bag produced by Hermès, and I’m not at all surprised that stylish men like it, too,’ Tsang says.
But Tsang notes that if men are buying Birkins for themselves, they’re careful to select specific colours. ‘A dark grey crocodile Birkin 50, for example, which looks masculine compared to, say, a rose lipstick swift leather Birkin 25,’ the specialist explains.
What is Tsang’s ‘man-bag’ of choice? ‘The blue marine porosus Birkin 45,’ she says. ‘The porosus is considered the highest grade of crocodile skin, and I love the darkness of the blue.’
Beyond Birkins, the specialist continues, ‘the major trend in men’s bags right now is the backpack, which has been elevated to luxury level.’ Louis Vuitton has been a key player in this development, particularly via its collaboration with skate brand Supreme. A red and white epi-leather Louis Vuitton x Supreme backpack will be a highlight of the 30 May sale.