The 'Alexa' Effect
Any fashion conscious girl understands the thrill of owning an ‘it’ bag, but to have an ‘it’ bag named after you is the highest fashion honour. No stranger to this phenomenon is Jane Birkin. With a little help from luxury leather goods giant Hermès her iconic name was firmly printed in the fashion history books. Likewise contemporary British style icon Alexa Chung is currently having her style status reinforced by Mulberry, whose infamous Alexa bag has had the fashion world in a frenzy.
Although the model turned TV-Presenter has been a fan of the brand for years, it wasn’t until she was spotted out and about using a vintage men’s briefcase (the Elkington) as her handbag that Mulberry’s creative team were inspired to create a satchel that would mirror her eccentric style. “We loved how it looked, and we thought designing a bag that was inspired by Alexa, by that particular image, was just a nice thing to do,” says Emma Hill, Mulberry’s Creative Director. That “nice thing” now accounts for more than 30% of the firm’s sales and has helped make Mulberry the world’s best performing fashion house with an estimated value of Dhs6 billion.
Mulberry’s stocks have risen by a whopping 526% over the past year alone and even though experts claim the brands success is partly due to the expansion in the growing Chinese and Latin American markets, the majority of the profit is rumored to be down to the Alexa satchels. With each satchel taking five hours to make by hand, the exceptionally high demand for these bags resulted in Mulberry having to extend its Somerset based factory by employing 60 extra manufacturing staff simply to keep up with consumer demand. Celebrity endorsements are a sure fire way of upping sales figures, and the ‘Alexa-effect’ has done just that with people buying the coveted satchel to replicate her quirky style, thereby bagging the company an enormous profit. But aside from the countless free handbags we’re sure land on Alexa’s door each season, we wonder whether Alexa herself shared any of this financial gain.
“Mulberry has this tradition of naming bags after girls. But it wasn’t collaboration [with Chung]; she didn’t contribute to the design processes”, Emma defends. Emma presented the bag to Chung once it was designed and it is claimed Alexa immediately fell in love with it. Since receiving the slouchy ‘Alexa’ from Mulberry, Chung has carried the desirable satchel throughout countless runway fashion shows, in turn inciting jealously amongst fashionistas everywhere.
So it doesn’t look like Alexa will be getting a pay cheque through the post any time soon, but with a bottomless supply of ‘it’ bags on demand, we doubt she has much to complain about.