This Noughties It-Bag Is Dominating The Resale Realm Right Now

paris, france october 05 a model wears a black long blazer jacket, high waist black large pants, a dark gray shiny leather large city handbag from balenciaga, black shiny leather pointed ankle boots, outside chanel, during paris fashion week womenswear spring summer 2022, on october 05, 2021 in paris, france photo by edward berthelotgetty images
This Vintage It-Bag Is Back In A Big WayEdward Berthelot - Hearst Owned

Welcome to This Old Thing, where ELLE UK’s vintage-obsessed editors wax lyrical about the very best things they find on their scrolls, from the icons to the cult finds - because buying everything new is so last season.

Hearst Owned

A new It-bag may be born every season – but, if you ask me, some of the very best have been around for decades already.

This will ring especially true for anyone feeling priced out of the current designer bag boom: with Chanel 2.55s surpassing the £10k mark for the first time in history and superbrands hiking price tags with every new passing season, the high end of the market is now too vertiginous for many of us to reach.

So, where does one find an It bag that doesn’t come with a remortgage plan stuffed into the pocket? In the past, of course. The rise and rise of resale has thankfully brought a host of long-forgotten bags back to the forefront of our minds: Ebay is peppered with (conveniently authenticated) Chloé Paddingtons, while Vestiaire Collective is a treasure trove of pre-loved Louis Vuitton Speedys.

But there’s one throwback It bag in particular that fashion editors are setting alerts for this season: the Balenciaga City, which is enjoying such a resurgence in popularity, current creative director Demna Gvasalia has just brought it back out of the archive.

kate moss carrying a balenciaga city bag
Gareth Cattermole - Hearst Owned

When it was launched by then-creative director Nicolas Ghesquière in 2001, the original City wasn’t met with much interest: the road to It status was a winding one. The slouchy, unstructured tote, heavy with hardware and free from the era’s key brazen logos, didn’t slot seamlessly into the loud-luxury predilections of the early Aughts. But it did appeal to one pivotal style icon: Kate Moss reportedly requested a City straight from the runway, then wore it all over London with her uniform of leopard print and skinny jeans.

Of course, the tote’s early end was swiftly reversed: the City has earned It status. Soon, everyone from the Olsens to the Hiltons, Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie (it’s 2001, remember) took their kitchen-sink carriers everywhere, from off-duty errand runs to red-carpet events. Other scaled-up totes followed – Alexa Chung backed Mulberry, while half of New York had a Proenza Schouler PS1 – but the era’s Indie Sleaze attitude was owned by the City.

paris hilton and nicky hilton
Jeff Kravitz - Getty Images

Now, as fashion comes full circle, this capacious, crinkled tote feels just right once more. The supple leather is a welcome rebellion against all the prim and perfect styles flooding the market right now, and the chunky hardware makes a much cooler calling card than a bold, brash logo.

But a true It-bag is not made on aesthetics alone, and The City has something that most modern arrivals do not: it’s practical.

This tough tote is big, but not comically so, and made from textured leather or soft suede that actually looks better with age, so you won’t be too scared to take it on the tube. There are pockets (pockets!) and a long strap for slinging it over your shoulder at commute-o-clock. I’m looking at my own glossed black version as I type this, and can verify there is space for a reusable coffee cup, pair of ballet flats and seven lipsticks.

kate moss carrying a balenciaga city bag
Courtesy Balenciaga

While close relatives have been peppered throughout collections in recent years, and Gvasalia’s City resurrection is set to land soon, the savviest shoppers know to snap up an original Noughties relic – and thankfully, resale sites are full of them.

I’m calling it: the City is back in business. And if you don’t want to take it from me, take it from Kate Moss, who earlier this week returned to the style – twenty years after cementing its fame.

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