Anya Hindmarch just launched the 2023 version of the iconic 'I Am Not A Plastic Bag' bag
It's hard to remember a time when going to the supermarket didn't first involve digging into our utility room's so-called 'bag of bags' for one of the countless totes we've amassed over the years – or, in the absolute worst case, an old and well-loved 'Bag For Life'. Single-use plastic bags, thankfully, have been out and actively frowned upon ever since 2015, when the government banned their free distribution.
Well ahead of the curve and a veritable trailblazer of the cause, however, was London-based designer Anya Hindmarch – whose iconic 'I Am Not A Plastic Bag' bag helped ease the transition from plastic to sustainable. The year was 2007, and the bag's launch saw queues in the thousands gather outside Sainsbury's all over the country. Cheap, cheerful, designer-branded and sustainable, they were catnip for fashion – and bargain-lovers alike – and still sell for a pretty penny on eBay today.
Given the world's current state of Noughties nostalgia and sustainability being the fashion buzzword du jour, it was about time for a new Anya Hindmarch-branded supermarket bag collaboration... And we're even more excited this time around.
Enter: the Universal Bag. Durable, reusable, recycled and fully recyclable thanks to its innovative built-in returns pocket, it's the designer tote bag to end all designer tote bags – and best of all, it's only £10. "We all need a bag to carry our stuff about in," says Hindmarch. "So I try and make it the most durable version made of material otherwise destined for landfill – at an accessible price point so everyone can use it."
"The Universal Bag is a practical answer to [the waste] problem that we need to keep tackling, and my solution is making a great bag that people really will want to reuse time after time," she continues. "It really does its job – you can fill it, drop it in a puddle or even carry logs in it and it won't rip or tear. I really hope it becomes indispensable for those that have one."
And create a great bag she certainly has. So great, in fact, that multiple retailers and supermarkets have already come on board to support the project, and with huge success. Earlier this year, Anya Hindmarch partnered with Selfridges Food Hall and Waitrose on limited-edition colourway bags which sold out almost instantly – and have become something of a cult item since.
Missed out the first time around? Fear not, for the Universal Bag has just been released in a chic green shade in collaboration with Asda, and it's available to purchase now from 300 stores nationwide (check the full list here). Plus, the end of March will also see a blue Universal Bag launch in partnership with Co-op – so there are plenty of opportunities to get your hands on one.
"The idea is that these bags are always available, but I can't predict demand," advises Hindmarch. "Do check with your local branch before you make any special journeys."
Fortunately, it seems there might be more collaborations on the horizon too... "We are in talks with food retailers all over the world, but I can't reveal more than that at the moment," teases Hindmarch. "Watch this space!"
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