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Radical Re-Imagineering: Disney Handbags I'd Like to See

Friday, June 03, 2011

Is it redundant to say that Disney's gone pop? The Walt Disney Company has tremendous influence on American (and sometimes even world) popular culture, and in recent decades has often stayed with a familiar, mainstream aesthetic, rather than venturing out onto a trendsetting edge. But in recent years, by introducing stores such as Tren-D and D-Street, and by collaborating with companies such as Dooney and Bourke and Harveys Seatbelt Bags, Disney's trying to work the edge back into its image. (I could go on and on here: Muppets gone wild and viral, Mickey getting Epic, and this week's introduction of Disney POP! Vinyl Figures.) And if you'd like any proof that this is a return to Disney's roots, as opposed to a radical departure from the brand, just re-watch Steamboat Willie sometime.

One of my favorite things about this trend is that it's resulted in high-quality, Disney-themed handbags on the market. I was lucky enough to pick up a Harvey Disney Baquette on clearance from the Disney Store online a few months ago, and for my next splurge I've been waffling between one of the Disneyland 55th anniversary Dooney and Bourke bags, and the new Steamboat Mickey line available from Harvey. And it's got me thinking: What other designer handbag companies would I like to see Disney collaborate with? And could we link the collaborations more closely with specific attractions? Here's my dream team of handbag designers, and the attractions I'd like them to design bags for at Disney's Hollywood Studios:

  • Tokidoki Rock 'n' Roller Coaster Collection. Tokidoki's my current favorite handbag company, for their whimsical prints and imaginative characters. They're often at their best when pairing disparate elements, as you see in their logo (a heart-and-crossbones). In fact, Disney's already borrowed heavily from Tokidoki's style with the "nerd" bags you've probably seen on Disney campus, which some fans have affectionately dubbed "Mickeydoki." Tokidoki and Disney already have one collaboration, on merchandise themed to Marvel characters, suggesting that the necessary business ties already exist and they've likely developed some knowledge of lessons learned and successes from the collaboration. So why not take it the next step? Love Aerosmith, love Tokidoki, hellooo. . . .
  • Timbuk2 MuppetVision 3D Collection. Timbuk2 has grown well beyond its roots serving the bike messenger community, without losing its appeal to its core market. In addition to the durability and style of its core products, its custom bags appeal to those who want reliable quality and the option of quirky styles. Disney's Zazzle collaboration has long allowed you to roll your own Muppets shirt (as well as countless other familiar faces). Assuming the business relationships could be established, it would be a simple matter of including fabrics inspired by the Muppets among the "speciality fabrics" in the custom bag builder. I for one would love to create a handbag that shows my Honeydew and Beaker pride.
  • Alexander McQueen Great Movie Ride Collection. The glamour! The glitz! The jewels! Who better than Alexander McQueen to capture the zeitgeist of classic Hollywood? These would be quite a bit pricier than the others listed here. His Lace Knuckle Clutch Box, which I imagine could inspire a line of bags themed to Footlight Parade, retails for $2,295. But just imagine the bags he could create inspired by the Wizard of Oz, or even Disney's own Mary Poppins! While Disney would sell precious few bags at this price point, the collaboration would serve primarily to extend the Disney fashion brand, much like Disney's line of wedding dresses. Think too of the example Sanrio has set: Do you really think they sell many of their $12,000 Hello Kitty diamond necklaces? No, but they do create quite the buzz.
  • Cole Haan Tower of Terror Collection. Coming back down to the more reasonable end of designer handbags, I'd love to see Cole Haan design a line of handbags for the fictional Hollywood Tower Hotel. Much like the bathrobe and other merchandise I've admired in the attraction's gift shop, these bags would use the HTH logo as if you were in fact shopping in the hotel's gift shop. Cole Haan's elegant style and longevity in the fashion industry make it a great choice for this attraction. And special bonus: Cole Haan was founded in 1928, so the bags could be marketed as a fresh new look from an emerging designer.

So what say you, Studios Central readers? What designers would you like to see try their hand at Disney style?