They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery. And when a high-fashion brand like Balenciaga releases a $2,145 product noticeably, er, influenced by IKEA’s $0.99 utilitarian shopping bag it seems that inter-brand flattery has reached new heights.
The now-infamous Balenciaga number (top left) is probably not an accessory in which you want to transport “hockey gear, bricks and even water” (potential cargo suggested by a recent IKEA ad). While it is undoubtedly utilitarian in size and shape, with super-useful double handles, everything else about the bag is a little more, shall we say, luxe.
Constructed of wrinkled glazed leather, the Arena is lined in black fabric, with a zip pocket and a key-ring lanyard on the inside. Fancy. It zips shut at the top unlike its closure-free IKEA counterpart, and – like so many fine things in life – it’s made in Italy.
We definitely wouldn’t cart our bricks around in $2,145 dollars-worth of all that, but we can’t help but enjoy the phenomenon of this iconic bit of kit being translated for the luxury market. What’s been really interesting about it is IKEA’s playful response, and the innovative reimaginings it has triggered from makers across the internet.
There are no sides here. It’s as if Balenciaga opened the floodgates, and gave designers everywhere permission to mess about and come up with endless new uses. And it all plays beautifully back into the main selling point of this beloved bag: it’s really very versatile indeed.