Written by The Strategy
Many claim Balenciaga’s “City” bag is back, but we question if the bag ever really went away.
With the return of Y2K fashion (*cringe*), magazines from Nylon to Vogue are claiming that Balenciaga’s “City” bag is back in fashion. As one of Team TS’ favourite bags of all-time, it is of our strong opinion that the “City” bag never actually went away. Instead, the classic bag stayed on the arms of fashion folk, but was overshadowed by the appearance of handbags like colourful Bottega clutches and impractical chair bags by Area.
The “City” bag, originally called the “Motorcycle” bag, was released in 2001 at the start of Nicolas Ghesquiére’s time as Creative Director of Balenciaga and almost immediately became one of the most coveted accessories. We would even go so far as to say that the bag was one of the mid 2000’s most defining accessories. Emmanuelle Alt was spotted with a classic all-black version, rumour has it that Kate Moss was one of the first to champion the bag straight off its runway debut, and the Olsen twins were rarely spotted on a Starbucks run without a “City” bag on their arms. Aughts icons like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan frequently popped up on WhoWhatWear with colourful versions of the bag, and Nicole Richie seemed to have it in just about every colour way.
Unlike many bags that were popular at the time, like Fendi’s Baguette, the Balenciaga “City” bag has no brand logo on the outside, and has a minimal design aside from the metal hardware and tassels. The bag has a relaxed structure that fits pretty much everything one needed for fashion week attendance or even a simple trip to the mall. In the present day, when mini bags that barely hold lip balm and an iPhone reign supreme, the Balenciaga City has room for an iPhone, notebook, house keys and even a mini makeup pouch.
The size, minimalist design and the notion that the bag is designed to handle wear and tear, has made it a closet staple for many fashion enthusiasts since its debut. Mary Kate Olsen’s stained “City” bag still holds a special place in our hearts and our Pinterest boards. Since it’s launch in 2001, the house releases the City bag in multiple styles, colours and leathers each season. That is over two decades of people buying the classic wear-with-everything, handbag. When Mary Kate Olsen was spotted in a green version back in 2016, the fashion community started talking about the “City” bag once again. Fast forward to 2021, and the bag was spotted all over the September fashion show attendees, from stylists to editors to fashion journalists – each claiming their love for the bag.
With the resurgence of Y2K fashion, it’s natural that the Balenciaga “City” bag has once again become a highly coveted item. But, the wording of these headlines needs to change. The Balenciaga “City” bag isn’t making a comeback. It’s been here this whole time, lugging our 10 ‘never leave home without it’ essentials, and seamlessly blending in with our carefully curated outfits, without stealing the show. The “City” bag never went away.
As we like to ask TS Alum, what are their closet staples, Team TS would like to share that a Balenciaga “City” bag is one of ours – and it has been since 2001 (or at least as soon as we were able to afford one for ourselves).