Before that, though, those reusable, chequered laundry bags you find at a pound shop and stuff crap into were reimagined by Louis Vuitton in 2007. A decade later, Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia sent oversized market bags down the runway for SS17. Later that year, the house also released a style reminiscent of IKEA’s blue Frakta bag to the sum of £1,365 (a hefty markup compared to Frakta’s 40p retail price). It even prompted the Swedish furniture store to run a “How to identity an original IKEA Frakta bag” advert on its website. Menswear designer Christopher Shannon also got in on the action, reappropriating Sports Direct’s large reusable bag and changing its logo to “Lovers Direct” for a modern approach to brand-obsessed sportswear.
A year later, Phoebe Philo’s Celine released a clear plastic bag in the shape of a supermarket carrier bag, revealing all its contents to the nosy bugger on the bus. And most recently, Westminster menswear graduate Lily Willan was directly influenced by the carrier bag her granddad used to take to work everyday, creating hold-alls that followed a similar slouchy shape and double handle.
Fashion has often giddily swiped normy products from our world and turned them into products of aspiration. Trash is turned into luxury, the bags stuffed under our kitchen sink are flogged for over a grand. And we lap it up.
When Balenciaga initially presented the bin bags back in March, they were planted in the middle of a deeply emotive show that creative director Demna Gvsalia used to highlight the ongoing war in Ukraine. Models battled against wind machines and a man-made snow storm, clutching onto fur coats and holding the bin bags, as though displaced people escaping a war-torn country.
Trash fashion makes a statement. Whether it’s homelessness, elitism, the environment or, indeed, war, it gets us talking. Controversial in most cases, yes, but isn’t that the point? Perhaps the context of rubbish plays a part, too. When Balenciaga’s bin bags are placed on the shelf of a store – compared to the moving runway presentation – they take on a whole different meaning. It becomes funny. An inside joke that, for those observing, is utterly baffling. Who would pay over a grand for a bin bag? Well, loads of people. Fashion is, after all, trash.