Copy or Inspiration?

by Maura Carlin

There is often a fine line between being inspired by a bag and the outright copying of a design. Sometimes bags come quite close to the edge. Perhaps it is accidental and to be expected. After all, as Mark Twain famously said:

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.

Though Twain surely wasn’t speaking of handbags, it could apply as well. Inevitably, every chain strap bag, perhaps unfairly, will be compared to Chanel and double top handle totes likened to a Birkin. (Read: Birkin Copycats?) But there are instances where you look at new purse style and all you see is a pre-existing classic. Below are a few examples that recently caught my eye.


Prada vs. Roberta di Camerino

You may be unfamiliar with the brand Roberta di Camerino, but it has been around over 50 years. First known for its Bagonghi bag which was photographed on Grace Kelly and others, the brand was and is known for its neo-baroque styles using velvet and mixing in leather and hardware.


Roberta Di Camerino Bagonghi bag


Roberta di Camerino

Fast forward to fall 2017-18 and Prada’s new Cahier Colorblock Velvet Handbag. My first thought was Roberta di Camerino.


Prada Trompe L’oeil Velvet Buckle Bag via Neiman Marcus


Prada Pattina Velvet Shoulder Bag via NET-A-PORTER

Oscar de la Renta vs. Chanel

For some unknown reason, mink bags catch my eye. It could be my admiration for PurseBop’s mink Chanel flap, tempered only by my query as to why my wallet needs to be kept warm. Anyway, when I saw this Oscar de la Renta bag, my first thought was to label it Chanel and wonder if it came in black. To my surprise, despite the chain and flower that resembles a camellia, it’s not one of Karl’s creations.

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 8.16.19 PM

PurseBop’s Mink Chanel Classic Flap


Oscar de la Renta Red Mink Rose Shoulder Bag

Balenciaga vs. Chanel

Of course, not every chain strap flap bag is Chanel, but some look closer than others. Or at least cause a double take.


Chanel Classic Flap

Screen Shot 2017-11-08 at 8.22.13 PM

Balenciaga Lock Round Medium Scarf Satin Shoulder Bag via Neiman Marcus

Valentino, Ralph Lauren, and Dior vs. Chanel


Valentino Free Rockstud Spike Top Handle Bag via Bergdorf Goodman


Ralph Lauren RL Calfskin Chain Shoulder Bag via Bergdorf Goodman


Fendi vs. Chanel

Even Karl Lagerfeld may be inspired by . . . well, Karl Lagerfeld as you compare the Fendi Kan Bag to the Chanel Boy.


Fendi Kan I via Nordstrom

So, copy or inspiration? Or are there really no new ideas? What do you think?

Read related articles below:
Birkin Copycats
Chanel 101
Why is Black the Most Popular Handbag Color?
Handbag Shopping: Does More Browsing Increase Satisfaction?
Who Are We To Judge?

Love, PurseBop

Published: November 28th, 2017
Updated: November 28th, 2017

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2 Responses to “Copy or Inspiration?”

  • I do believe with the saturation of fashion through social media that nothing seems new anymore and everyone is copying everything…all the fashion houses are copying one another, influencers are copying celebrities and people are copying them…everyone looks the same and there is no originality

  • Ever since the Diorama came out I thought “huuuummm, I think Dior just made a Boy inspired bag ????”… I do really love the Diorama, but the Boy will always be number 1 along with the Classic flap. The bags you posted really do seem like one was inspired by the other… I wouldn’t say a brand is copying another, but fashion is getting saturated. That’s why I love the classics, they never get old nor dull.