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Why saddle bags are still a hot buy

The equestrian-inspired bags are emerging as a key accessory in India’s luxury closet

Actor Dakota Johnson with a Gucci Jackie 1961 bag.
Actor Dakota Johnson with a Gucci Jackie 1961 bag. (Gucci)

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Saddle bags, emblematic of equestrian sports and adventure, have always enjoyed a huge following. This season, Gucci’s shoulder bag embodies the House’s heritage in two ways: referencing the horse-riding world at the core of the brand and excellence in leather craftsmanship. 

At Dior, creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri has updated the saddle bag design in white and black smooth calfskin, showcasing the signature Plan de Paris motif (priced at $4,000, or around 3 lakh), inspired by House archives and centred on Dior’s historic address on Avenue Montaigne. Bottega Veneta’s saddle shoulder bag uses its signature intrecciato weave for style and texture. In a miniature size, it has an adjustable strap so you can sling it over the arm or wear it cross-body. Also worth mentioning is Chloe’s Marcie small saddle bag, a mix of a clean top-line and round silhouette.

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Gallerist Bhavna Kakar recently bought the Gucci Blondie ($3,600), which features the archival round interlocking G detail from the 1970s. “I saw Blondie as a versatile piece, which helps one make a day to night transi- tion effortlessly,” says Kakar. “Its retro design, practical nature and design sensibility has made it my go-to accessory even for travels.”

Cecilia Morelli, co-founder of Le Mill, a multi-brand luxury fashion house, says there’s a growing demand for saddle bags. “With the resurgence of Y2K fashion, a much loved silhouette from the 2000s, the saddle bag is in demand now more than ever before,” Morelli says. “I see the saddle bag stay- ing in trend for years to come and cementing itself as an iconic silhouette, just like a timeless tote bag.” Le Mill stocks saddle bags such as Loewe’s Gate Bag, Alaïa’s Le Papa Bag and Ganni’s Banner Saddle Bag.

The saddle bag has become the “it” bag, says Pernia Qureshi, co-founder of Saritoria, a platform for preloved luxury items. “All brands, such as Dior, Gucci, Hermès, have modified the design to make it a statement piece of their own. It all began when John Galliano designed the saddle bag for Dior in the late 1990s. After that, the shape had a revival around 2014 when Beyoncé started sporting vintage versions of the bag,” she says. The shape was such a hit that Hermès came up with several versions, including the Evelyn and the Constance bag; the Celine Classic bag and the Gucci House Bit 1955 shoulder bags are also inspired by the original bag. The demand for this type of bag is the blend of design meeting practicality,” she adds.

Investment banker and digital creator Ridhi Vaid, who has a Gucci Jackie 1961 (medium is priced at $2,950), says: “It’s one of the best Gucci invest- ments one can make. The heritage value of being linked to one of the most stylish women, Jackie Kennedy, definitely adds an extra charm.... Heritage brands uphold a level of respect and long-standing loyalty that sets them apart in today’s saturated market.”

Preloved saddle bags are also getting attention. “Hermès, of course, has the highest demand in the second-hand market, with second-hand pricing often going well above first-hand prices due to the lack of access to the first- hand market. Hermès has a history rooted in equestrianism which brings a different meaning and authenticity to this particular model,” says Shehlina Soomro, co-founder of Saritoria.

At Retag Luxury, too, preloved saddle bags are attracting more customers. "They're being reinvented now, right from their shape, size to the logos. When a bag becomes a collectible, it increases the resale value of it. Thanks to the pre-loved market, people have access to luxury at a cheaper cost and also the younger consumer wants to shop more ethically, saving money and reducing the carbon footprint,” says Namisha Gupta, founder-CEO, Retag Luxury.

Another reason for the popularity is the nostalgia attached to it. As Soomro puts it: “We're living in a time of nostalgia. changing consumption trends and brands are recognising this.”

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