There used to be a time when wealth and clout meant over-the-top grandeur: big houses, big cars, and big-time fashion items. Think the pre-recession era of mondo diamond rings, super-sized fur coats, and monogrammed tote bags that would put your dingy Outdoor Voices tote to shame. Today, the formula is reversed: Sure, Balenciaga is still banking on its hefty Triple S sneaker, but subdued, minimal fashion tends to rule the upper echelons of power—see female execs in The Row and Silicon Valley dudes flocking to Brunello Cuccinelli. In keeping with the sleeker, less-flashy fashion taking hold, it seems the most sought-after It bags of the moment are also the smallest. Secondary market e-tailer TheRealReal just released its Resale Report for the first half of 2019, and it reveals that itty-bitty items are very big business.
For TRR’s two most popular brands, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, three of the five most-wanted items were shrunken: Gucci’s mini suede Dionysus, Vuitton’s tiny Palm Springs backpack, and Vuitton’s Lockme mini backpack. If that’s not a compelling enough case that the secondary market is flooded with teensy items, there’s this: Year over year searches for “mini bags” increased 544 percent. That’s a greater increase than any other search term on TheRealReal for the entire year. Some of the small things that made a big impact are Jacquemus’s Le Chiquito bag, Chloé’s cube-like C bag, and Prada’s sleek underarm Sidonie style. It’s not just our bags that are getting smaller either: One of the retailer’s most popular home item is Louis Vuitton’s miniature trunk.
Why are minis making such a massive impact in fashion? Well, there’s the obvious meme-ability of comically petite bags. The visual pun of reducing something with such an essential function—we need to carry our phones!—into a useless object resonates widely with an internet culture that’s always losing for the next punchline. What’s more, taking away the purpose of a purse means that to carry a bag so small and quaint, you must not only live a lifestyle unencumbered by responding to the group chat but also that you have enough disposable income to purchase something that is beyond functionality. You can splurge on a bag that’s more performance art (or performative art) than an actual vessel to transport your most essential possessions.
OK, maybe that’s a little heady. The truth might just be that in a big, ugly world, small bags are just the dose of cuteness we need. Either way, these micro-totes are having a major impact in fashion, one that doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
Originally Appeared on Vogue