There are just a few handbags in the history of fashion that have managed to create the same level of buzz as Mulberry's Alexa, a design that undoubtedly became the 'It' bag of the 2010s. First launched a decade ago, the iconic satchel-style bag was inspired by Alexa Chung’s carefree confidence – and soon became the handbag to be seen with. Now, 10 years on, and in celebration of the British brand's 50th anniversary, Mulberry is relaunching the handbag, but with a few key updates.
The relaunched Alexa is made with leather from gold-standard, environmentally accredited tanneries and has been crafted at the brand’s carbon-neutral UK factories, reflecting the brand's commitment to responsible innovation – and giving the iconic style a new sustainable finish that reflects where the fashion world is today.
"We always knew that sustainable updates would be key to ensuring this bag still feels modern and relevant today," Thierry Andretta, CEO of Mulberry told us. "We’ve been very focused on improving the sustainability of our products across the entire range and it was vital that when we re-launched the Alexa that we updated it with the same level of attention to detail and responsibility commitments."
Giving the bag a new lease of life was key to the relaunch, but Andretta explains that the tote still feels very "true to the original" design, just with more relevance for today.
"For us it’s about timelessness, which if often the sign of a true cult classic. We aim to create bags that transcend the generations. The fact that we’ve been able to offer a new interpretation though our sustainable manufacturing practices makes it even more relevant than before."
The original Alexa, and the story behind it, has reached such iconic status that it will be featured in the V&A's upcoming exhibition 'Bags: Inside Out', where it will appear as part of the 'It Bag' renaissance in a curation that explores the unique cultural status of bags and their craftsmanship.
The design originally came about after Chung was frequently spotted with a vintage Mulberry briefcase on her arm. This inspired the team to design a relaxed, modern version of the bag – and the Alexa was born. It quickly became one of the brand’s signature silhouettes and the most sought-after Mulberry bag of a generation. And 10 years on, it is still one of the most requested styles.
"The interesting thing about this bag is that customers are always asking us when it will make a return," Andretta says. "When we launched our Mulberry Exchange service at the beginning of the year (customers can bring in old styles that we’ll buy back and have repaired if they need it, or have the chance to find a style they missed the first time round), Alexa was one of the most requested styles, so we knew that the popularity and relevance of the style continues."
And, even if the concept of the 'It' bag suggests a trend or passing moment in fashion, Andretta argues that with cult accessories, it is much more complex than that, which is why they are able to transcend trends and be passed down through generations.
"I think true 'It' bags are born when the design is an expression of a particular moment in time; blended with the DNA of a brand – and you can sense from the way it speaks to so many different people’s individual style, that it will stand the test of time. Following on from earlier 'It' bags, the Alexa really helped make this a mainstream term and also created a new generation of Mulberry fans."
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