x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Handbags are in big demand – and that’s just the men

It’s a well-known fact that women of the UAE know how to wear a handbag. But why are handbags so important to women? And is this trend becoming important to men too?

It’s a well-known fact that women of the UAE know how to wear a handbag. Last month marked the celebration of National Handbag Day in the United States. I am sure it will only be time until the UAE has its own National Handbag Day, especially when you begin to understand the value of this new emerging trend.

So it got me thinking, why are handbags so important to women? And is this trend becoming important to men too?

Well, the truth is nothing quite unites women (who love style) like a handbag. If you’re like me, then you carry your life around in your handbag – phone, wallet(s), nappies, bottles, snacks and, of course, our beloved make-up, which gets its own special bag.

Before parenthood, I certainly bought more handbags than I do today, a clutch for this and another handbag for that. My love affair for handbags reached its peak when I came across my LV Neverfull bag. It’s not the most glamorous of bags, but it is practical. So much so, in fact, that I have not bought another bag since.

The reason is because of the design and quality. It has the flexibility to be a school bag for many young women, a briefcase for the corporate woman and even a nappie bag for the stylish mum.

Handbags are an essential part of our everyday lives, but a question many women have asked me over and over again is: are they a good investment?

So, are they?

Well, some women and many men have disagreed with me and believe that spending on a bag is a big waste of money. I am on the other team, as you might have guessed. I think we all have a choice on what we spend our money on and I think a handbag is a good investment.

I acknowledge that you only have so much money to spend each month, so spend it mindfully and don’t spend all of it. Last year I encouraged a good friend of mine who works in finance to buy her own LV Neverfull bag, and just this week she told me this really was a great investment.

And yet despite National Handbag Day being celebrated in America, it’s not all good in the luxury world. Data from the research firm Euromonitor International confirms that the luxury industry is in a bit of a slump. Global luxury sales are on track to grow 3 per cent this year, the slowest rate in four years.

Euromonitor believes that growth will pick up next year, though, driven by its strongest segment in recent years: accessories, specifically men’s accessories. What? Yes that’s right, the “man’s purse” is now big business.

Looking back on my many conversations with men – who haven’t agreed with me that a handbag is a good investment – and it appears that they were wrong. The handbag is a good investment, even for investors.

Over the past five years, sales of men’s handbags have grown at nearly twice the rate of the overall luxury industry. The man bag market in Asia has doubled since 2008, and in the Middle East it is growing by two-thirds over the same period.

The global market for men’s luxury bags will reach just under US$9 billion this year, according to Euromonitor.

My husband is a good example of the trend. He has more bags than me. Yes that’s right – as a photographer he is always researching different ways to travel faster and lighter and getting through airports with ease. And every trip or photographic adventure seems to demand a new camera bag – or man bag of some description. He loves his man bags and he has plenty of them, too.

Many of us will have noticed that men have been quietly carrying around what women have been addicted to for decades – a bag for their essential items.

Men have finally learnt just how important it is to have a bag to carry their “stuff”. All those cameras, lenses, electronics, chargers, headphones, glasses, keys and even their wallets.

So what does all this mean? Simply put, men are taking a page out of the women’s book and moving towards the bag.

Once a source of mockery – the man bag is the new emerging market and there are $9bn reasons why. Lets see how long it will take for the UAE to have a National Man Bag Day.

Janelle Malone is a wealth commentator, writer and author. You can read her blog at www.womenmoneyandstyle.com