| An office worker recently bought a Chanel shopping bag on an online shopping site for 35,000 won (32.40 U.S. dollars). She said she likes luxury-brand shopping bags as much as luxury-brand bags.
She added that she takes extra care of her Chanel logo-imprinted paper shopping bag and carries it just once in a while.
The love for luxury brands is spreading to shopping bags, which are used for packaging luxury bags when sold. For most luxury brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Prada, these bags are not for sale and so their scarcity is apparently raising their popularity.
Taking advantage of such trend, online luxury shops are selling luxury-brand shopping bags at more than 10,000 won (9.30 dollars) apiece. Papers bags are sold at 100 won (0.09 cents) at large department stores or supermarkets, meaning the price of a luxury-brand shopping bag is 100-350 times higher.
As for the distribution channel, people who bought luxury products sell relevant shopping bags to online retailers or employees at the luxury brand companies pocket them.
An online Chanel shopping bag seller told The Dong-A Ilbo, "I secretly took 40 (shopping bags) from a friend who works at a Chanel brand store. I sold 30 in just a month,” adding “Most of the buyers are women but men also buy them to pack presents for their girlfriends.”
A female college student said, “Carrying a luxury-brand shopping bag makes me feel like carrying a luxury-brand bag. I carry it because people will see that I’m not carrying a fake luxury brand."
This is prompting wholesale markets like that in Seoul`s Dongdaemun district to sell fake luxury shopping bags for 1,000-2,000 won (0.90 cents-1.90 dollars) each.
Analysts say the popularity of luxury shopping bags reflects the so-called lipstick effect, which means that in a sluggish economy, consumers are more willing to buy cheaper luxury goods.
Kim Ran-do, a consumer studies professor at Seoul National University, said, “Carrying a shopping bag with a luxury brand logo reflects self-complacency and a show-off sentiment. This tendency is reinforced in tough economic times as people try to save money but at the same time want to retain their dignity."