Cover Story

SMB Miss smallSave My Bag’s new Miss bag has become the brand’s new Icon

Happy accidents are rare. Uncommon still are those that are followed by happily thereafter. When they do strike, they open up opportunities and spur creativity and bring about the dream of world domination. One Italian couple had such an encounter. Stefano and Valentina Agazzi were in Los Angeles some years ago to host a luxury jewellery event. As customary of such occasions, a gift was prepared for attendees. In this case, lightweight bags with the east-west orientation of those popular among many women were presented.

As the Agazzis have recounted to the media, rain fell when the event came to an end. Fearful of the damage the shower may do to their own possibly expensive bags, many of the guests placed what they were carrying into the one the Agazzis had gifted them. Bags, as it turned out, were inadvertently saved.

That day in the West Coast of America, the rain was a pouring of good fortune, just as the Cantonese believe, and it led to the birth of a bag that would change the life of the Agazzis. A bag that could protect another without looking like an unimaginative slip-case, the husband and wife realised, could have potential appeal aside from practical application. In 2013, Save My Bag was thus born.

Yasmine Cheng with MissMediacorp’s TV and radio personality Yasmine Cheng with her limited-edition ‘Graffiti’ Weekender Miss at the official opening of the Save My Bag flagship store

“It was for fun at first,” said Stefano Agazzi who was recently in town, together with his wife Valentina, to attend the official launch of the Save My Bag flagship store in Singapore. He could clearly see the humour in the conception of the bag: essentially a parody of bags that women seem to have an obsession with. His spouse agreed, “but it turn out to be a serious business,” she added.

Valentina thinks that the appeal of Save My Bag is in the familiar silhouettes and the direct attraction of their usefulness. “Women see them and like them immediately. It’s a bag that’s not hard to understand” And, for good measure, she added, “When Oprah Winfrey visited our shop in Southern Italy, she bought 17 of them. Just like that. The sales people didn’t even know who she was. And soon, she featured our bags in her magazine, O.”

Of course, one cannot underestimate the Oprah effect. In no time, Save My Bag became an instant hit even when detractors were eager to point out the bags’ similarity in shape—particularly its best-selling ‘Icon’ bag—to classic luxury handbags. As if to address the Icon’s resemblance-to-another standing, Save My Bag recently tweaked its design to yield the ‘Miss’. It now comes with a flap top that replaces the former straight rim with a zig-zag, vaguely scallop-like edge.

SMB Principe SpigatoThe ‘Principe’ Spigato with its herringbone pattern, a style targeted at men

Whether they take after the classics or are just a kitschy spin on It handbags, Save My Bag offerings quickly shed its original function as a bag cover and became a fashion bag in its own right. It is not hard to see why women would want to use them as a bona fide fashion item. 

Made in Bergamo, one of Italy’s most industrialised cities that is 40km northeast of Milan, these bags have the benefit of lightness due to the textile used. Save My Bag calls it a “poly-fabric with Lycra fiber”, which is essentially a spongy, synthetic material similar to neoprene, only much lighter, and has stretch and is waterproof and completely washable. Despite the fabric’s suppleness, the bag does not sag, as the bottom is fitted with a hard, removable base to keep the overall shape.

Such qualities are especially appealing to women (and men, evidenced by guys snapping up the generously-sized ‘Weekender’ versions, as well as those designs with patterns usually associated with tailoring such as pinstripes and herringbone) who lug a load and do not want to begin with a heavy bag. The brand describes the lightweight advantage as “weighing less than a bottle of water”. The standard Miss, in fact, weighs 380g: that’s about 120g less than a 500ml Evian.

Perhaps what truly seals the deal for many shoppers is the provenance of the bags. In a sea of bags sourced from countries with no couture tradition, only mass manufacture, the Made-in-Italy Save My Bag is deemed a good buy. As one shopper examining a hot-pink Miss was heard saying, after being told about its Bergamo origins, “I don’t care where in Italy, as long as it’s Italy.”

Save My Bag is at B1-05, Wheelock Place. Photos: Zhao Xiangji

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