In the 1990s, Fendi was suffering from what some have referred to as a dated 1980s look and their sales were growing smaller in number. During this time, artist Nathalie Hambro was gaining fame through creating handbag artwork. Hambro’s bags were all unique and stitched by hand. They were created for those who could appreciate the artsy side of fashion, and not for the label snobs who were only looking to attain a certain social status. Realizing the genius of Hambro’s ideas, Silvia Venturini Fendi embarked on a similar path. She made the decision to produce a designer handbag that was unique and unlike anything else on the market at the time. In 1997, Fendi released the mini purse known as the Baguette, which would quickly become one of the world’s most successful designer handbag designs of all time.
Fendi designed the bag for a certain type of shopper. Author Caroline Cox has referred to this target market as the “haute hippie.” They were people one would expect to find in Greenwich Village or another artistically-chic area. This segment was considered perfect for the Baguette because it is a designer purse that embodies the idea of being an individual, which is evident by the fact that it allows for over 600 aesthetic options. These options include various colors, embellishments, and exquisite materials such as snakeskin, crocodile, silk velvet, and woven raffia. The Baguette was also designed to contain an ethical appeal. Some donned Indian mirror craft techniques while others showed signs of heavy Native American influence.
The Baguettes were meant to be as far from ordinary as possible while still channeling a more mainstream look. Even though the Baguette was supposed to be different and unique, it does have design elements that can be found on each bag. To begin with, every Baguette is the same shape. They are all small rectangles with a strap that is just long enough to allow the bag to sit underneath the arm like a loaf of bread. This concept is where the name Baguette derived since its placement was likened to that of the common way to transport the French fare. Additionally, every bag has the same interlocking double-F logo that molds to create the front clasp. However, this clasp may be adorned with crystals or sequins on one purse and bare on another because while it is a constant for each purse, its decorations vary among them.
This fun bag was an instant success. Celebrities quickly realized the grandeur of the small bag and were spotted carrying it throughout Hollywood. It even appeared on popular television shows further opening the eyes of the public to the world of the Fendi Baguette. Today, the tiny bag is still flying off of the shelves and remains to be one of Fendi’s most popular styles. It is constantly ranked on fashion lists as a classic designer purse and classified as an “it bag.”