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    Is The Row’s Margaux quiet luxury’s new Holy Grail bag?

    Ingrid Chua

    The 'it' bag has become a symbol of stealth wealth

    In today’s social media age of in-your-face logos, viral fashion gimmickry and shock-stun hype, the conversation around quiet luxury has been a welcome change (even though the concept is not entirely new). When it comes to bags, the Hermès Birkin has for long been known as the holy grail of quiet luxury – not only because it is devoid of any glaring branding marks, but also because of its material quality and high level of craftsmanship.

    However, due to the bag’s popularity securing it top billing on the status-symbol totem pole, the Birkin has become too easily recognised and can no longer be considered a “quiet” luxury bag. Add to the fact that the process of buying a Birkin direct from the Hermès boutique is now near-impossible for new fans of the brand, the industry has become starved for another staple. 

    Two minimalist tote bags from The Row, one in tan and one in beige.
    The Soft Margaux. Image: The Row

     Unlike most commercially renowned brands, which boast of a strong heritage and history that span centuries, The Row is still relatively young, established only 18 years ago by American child actor-twins Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. 

    One of the key ingredients of their branding strategy has been the consistency of their design throughout the years. They never deviated from their minimalist concept, even while most brands had to adapt to popular street fashion trends to stay relevant. 

    And while The Row had remained fairly low-profile compared to its bigger and much older contemporaries, the brand has earned a loyal following even before the unbranded “trend” came to be.

    The Row’s Margaux bag, which debuted back in 2018, has been on fashion’s radar of late, trending within social media circles. If you know your bag designs well, you might notice something familiar with the Margaux because it actually looks like an amalgamation of an Hermès Bolide and a Louis Vuitton Epi Passy. It is constructed with logo-free front and back leather panels with two belt buckles lightly cinching its sides. 

    The Margaux comes in different leathers as well as sizes: the 10 (25cm), 12 (30cm), 15 (38cm), 17 (43cm), and the EW (East-West) Margaux. The smallest Margaux comes with a detachable shoulder strap, while the rest of the larger, more heftier, sizes don’t.  

    Two suede tote bags from The Row, one in black and one in brown.
    Soft Margaux in suede. Image: The Row

     So why is this bag being hailed as ‘the next Birkin’? Perhaps the Margaux’s different size, leather, and colourway offerings make the bag comparable. But the similarities end there. The Birkin’s construction is a lot more complex than the Margaux – working on the Birkin’s perlage (rounded-end nail fastening) on hardware plaques and its saddle-stitched parts requires a high level of skill and expertise. The Margaux also has a ‘bag security’ downside compared to the Birkin, because it only has an interior toggle closure to secure it. 

    The upside of the Margaux is, it’s a lot lighter due to its canvas lining – the Birkin, on the other hand, uses chevre (goat-skin) leather for its lining, making it heavier. Fabric linings in general, are an economical alternative to leather ones, but the price points of a Margaux, though less than a Birkin, still fall a little on the high side for its overall material quality and level of craftsmanship. 

    However, like most commercially renowned brands today, customers are not just charged for the cost of the product – they are also charged a premium for brand marketing, positioning, and brand value developed and earned through the years.

    A black textured leather tote bag from The Row featuring a sleek and minimalist design.
    The Soft Margaux. Image: The Row

    That said, The Row’s Margaux bag does have that evergreen style that qualifies it as timeless. It is no doubt a classy-looking, functional bag that has transcended trends and will continue to stand well on its own. That said, while the Margaux can be considered quiet luxury’s new holy grail, it should never be labelled the ‘next Birkin’ because, let’s be honest, there can really be only one Birkin.

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