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For fashion sceptics, the idea of an “It-Bag” can seem exaggerated or fanciful. However, a bag’s sold-out stock and ubiquitous social media presence are typically a close enough indication of its status to substantiate the claim. Case in point: the Prada Raffia tote bag. Last summer, the tote made headlines as the season’s “It-Bag,” after prominent women in fashion showcased it on their IG feeds. This month, the Lyst Index report for 2021 attested to that claim with data, confirming that the Prada Raffia tote bag is the most coveted item this year in women’s fashion. And that word of mouth is still the most potent marketing tool. 

The success of the Prada Raffia tote bag can largely be accredited to its gamut of influential customers. This group of fashion enthusiasts includes people from different sectors of the industry. Buyers like Tiffany Hsu, and bloggers like Anna Winck, have styled the Prada Raffia tote for their followers and cast a wide net of eyes on the product. That said, the power of social media did not make the Prada Raffia tote an “It-Bag” on its own. Subtle design techniques and a knowledge of what customers want today play a crucial role in a bag’s success. 

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The other half of the Prada Raffia tote bag’s success is embedded in its design, which subtly blended tradition with modernity. From the standard dimensions of the Raffia tote to the label imbued on the front (par for the course on a designer tote bag) the fashion company stayed true to traditional tote bag form. The Prada Raffia was modernized with the label’s reinterpreted logo, unique material, and distinct colourways. It’s important to note how colour blocking and prominent logos are prime for social media feeds, which likely played a role in the bag’s overall design.

This strategy proved to be a success. With more colour variation provided, people had more range for styling the unique bag in exceptional ways. That’s the genius of the Prada Raffia tote. It’s simple enough to be a universal summer bag but distinct enough to stand out as non-generic.

Instagram @estellechemouny

The reputation of this bag suggests that aspirational fashion today is underscored by personalization. We long for leisurely summer days that are associated with ordinary mesh bags. They’re something we customarily take with us when we pop into a farmer’s market in the city or to the beach, filled with sunscreen and a good book. The popularity of the Prada Raffia tote bag, in particular, communicates to us that we strongly desire a bag that fits in with these universal experiences and our everyday life without compromising our unique sartorial thumbprint. That an “It-Bag” is one that reflects our personal style and feels like it was made just for us, despite its popularity.