21 Small Bags That Prove Good Things Really Do Come in Small Packages

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In 1943, psychologist Abraham Maslow published “A Theory of Human Motivation”, which presented an idea called the hierarchy of needs. It’s a motivational theory in psychology that says mental health is predicated on a hierarchical, five-tiered pyramid of needs that starts with the physiological, followed by safety, then love and belonging, and lastly, self-actualization. In the unprecedented year that was 2020, many of us across the globe felt as though this pyramid had crumbled and we were, in many different ways, unable to realize personal growth or self-fulfillment while our attention turned towards more pressing needs like taking care of ourselves and those around us or navigating love and belonging amidst months of isolation.

Recently, I also discovered that this principle can affect our sartorial choices too. We have the privilege of playing with our clothes and experimenting with self-expression when our low pyramid needs are met. And while dressing up in fun garments or over-the-top accessories can bring us some optimism on dark days, last year, we also learned the importance and the comforting nature of paring down our fashion choices to the essentials. Namely, small bags have emerged as the no-nonsense solution that hold only necessities like phones, keys, wallets, and masks.

In an effort to visualize this notion of necessity, we tapped multi-hyphenate creative director Lucas Lefler and Vogue’s Visuals Director Nic Burdekin to collaborate on a story that highlights a handful of small, utilitarian bags and accessories, like Chanel’s wallet-sized crossbody bag or Gabriela Hearst’s leather necklace-meets-keychain. The shoot was set against the backdrop of the Arcosanti, which is an experimental town that was built in the Arizona desert in the ’70s as a counterpoint to mass consumerism, social isolation, urban sprawl, and overconsumption of natural resources–values that feel more pertinent than ever in the midst of an ongoing pandemic.

There’s a parallel between these whimsical, efficient bags and a beautifully striking yet practical town. Looking back at 2020, we’ve learned how to streamline and focus on the essentials. Looking ahead to 2021, we’ll take that knowledge forward in our sartorial choices, too.

Here, the bags that speak to the zeitgeist of 2021, where we’re paring down while looking ahead.

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