Chanel Totes Case Study: Old versus New

Written by Sajid Bin Mohammad

It's all about size, really.

The Chanel of today is quite like the technological innovations of the 21st century. Not that it is increasingly complicated to use and, of course, smarter than us mortals. Rather, the similarity lies in the respective obsessions with making things compact. So much so, in fact, that Chanel has hung a (microscopic) bag onto a necklace and called it a day. In hindsight, that does make it rather difficult to use too, so I stand corrected.

Image credit: @bragmybag

But putting aside its inclination to shrink, not to mention the alleged decline in their quality, there’s something about the old Chanel that the new Chanel lacks. And that something is a wildly popular tote.

Despite the general complaint that bags have only grown smaller in recent days, now is perhaps the best time to buy bags of any shape. Whether a hobo (like the Bottega Veneta Jodie), a top-handle (à la the Hermès Birkin) or a tote as celebrated as the Dior Book Tote, today’s market caters to all tastes.

Particularly though, most brands seem to have a tote in their lineups – they’re just that functional! And, contrary to the norms of most premier fashion houses, Chanel’s current offerings in the tote/shopper department remain, at best, lukewarm. In fact, all of them are, in various degrees, named simply “Shopping Bag”, even if the designs themselves are a world apart, as a quick glance shows.

Shopping Bag via Chanel

Shopping Bag via Chanel

Small Shopping bag via Chanel

Large Shopping Bag via Chanel

Shopping Bag via Chanel

So that raises the question, where are the days of Chanel’s once highly successful totes? Why have the much-loved GST and the on-trend Coco Cabas joined its long list of discontinued products? Shall oversized bag-lovers like yours truly be deprived of Chanel’s charms?

You can probably guess the answer to that. Yes, you’re right if you said no, and also if you’re a proponent of buying pre-owned. While it was indeed a sad moment in history when the Grand Shopping Tote was discontinued, lovers of all things big are in for a treat when it comes to surfing the resale market for a Chanel tote.

Actually, the fact that they’re discontinued makes them so much sweeter! They circumnavigate the recent price increases, display impeccable craftsmanship, and can contain your life inside! I mean, of course one can never have enough Classic Flaps in a motley assortment of pearls, sequins, tweed, leather and satin, but sometimes you need a big guy (or gal) to fall back on.

And for your more larger-than-life needs, we have you covered. Check out this fine assortment of unique totes from Chanel, courtesy of Fashionphile.

The Classic Choices

Grand Shopping Tote

Arguably the most popular tote from Chanel, the GST’s cancellation spurred the most grievances from fans. Coming in caviar, lambskin, and patent leather, its structured but smooth lines and an organized interior make it the perfect work accessory. A smaller and more north-south spinoff on the GST was the Petit Shopping Tote (PST). Both variations are rumored to return for future seasons. Suffice to say, fans are yet to have that satisfaction.

Timeless Tote

Like the Grand Shopping tote, the Timeless Tote also had two sizes: regular and petite (called the PTT). It features a fully zipped central compartment, especially appreciated by those who prefer an extra layer of security. In turn, however, is less structures and doesn’t facilitate the organization of the GST. It was discontinued earlier than the GST as well, in 2012.

Cambon Tote

With a much slimmer profile, large (and often contrast-colored) interlocking C’s, the Cambon Tote is much more relaxed, casual and less hardware-heavy than other totes. Hence, it makes the case for a perfect everyday carryall for work and play. Also discontinued around 2012, the Cambon is an easy ticket to the ultimate Chanel “cool girl” aesthetic without breaking the bank or sacrificing functionality.

Medallion Tote

Another highly popular mid-2000s slim tote, its name derives from the medallion-shaped zipper pull (yes it’s completely zipped). Most famously, it was seen on the arm of 2000s “The Hills” darling Lauren Conrad. Plus… it’s small enough to fit into today’s trend of mini (-ish) totes without sacrificing capacity.

Executive Tote

If there’s one tote that belongs on the CEO’s seat, it’s the Chanel Executive Tote (go figure, there’s “executive” in its name). Introduced in 2005, it remained part of Chanel’s permanent line for nearly a decade.

An updated take on the Cerf was the Neo Executive tote, first seen in Chanel’s Cruise 2017 collection. Sadly, that too was recently discontinued.

The Quirky Choices

Coco Cabas

Indeed, this is perhaps one of the best known Chanel It-bags. The Coco Cabas possessed all the elements of the 2000s It-girl: chains, patent leather and a signature, slouchy, oversized hobo/tote aesthetic. Preferred by the likes of Ashley Olsen to shadow themselves from the paparazzi, the Coco Cabas also came in calfskin and denim.

Deauville Tote

The Deauville encompasses a grey area of sorts. In fact, number three from the list of currently available totes seem to be one, although it’s rather unimaginatively named “Large Shopping Tote”. But we’re crossing our fingers that the Deauville remains a house staple because it really does it all!

It takes your workload and your gym clothes and yet looks effortlessly chic. Preferred by starlets both in the East and the West, it is available in nearly every kind of material Chanel imagines, from canvas to raffia to denim and calfskin. We simply can’t get enough of this gorgeous sequined version though!

Chevron Chic Shopping Bag

True, each of these have me awestruck. But it’s the Chevron Chic that really steals the show. With a shape reminiscent of the massively popular (and absolutely stunning) Louis Vuitton Capucines, this is the first tote bag Chanel should revive. Plus, it’s super spacious without being too huge!

Lipstick Tote

Just because I spared you the small(-ish) Chevron Chic doesn’t mean I’m not all-in for oversized. And the Lipstick tote? Easily the most gigantic and quirky of the bunch. Plus this vinyl edition lets you into the Chanel club for just under $1500 – who could’ve imagined, right?

Nylon Coco Cocoon

Although I usually prefer leather (sorry there, PETA), I do, however, develop an obsession for nylon every now and again. And what could be a better entrance into the world of nylon than this Rihanna-endorsed Coco Cocoon?

So, what are you waiting for? Dig in to the world of oversized, pre-loved Chanel and enjoy!

Love, PurseBop

Published: October 9th, 2021
Updated: October 9th, 2021

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