A Quick Rundown of Saint Laurent
Saint Laurent is, for many, the pinnacle of French – and indeed international – fashion.
There is a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to YSL; in many ways its approach hasn’t changed much down the years: bohemian and café society street-smarts, cigarette chic, minis with cropped leather jackets.
But under current managers Kering, the gamine androgyny has been refined for Paris runway shows that all French and international fashion brands envy. No-one can match YSL’s scope and impact.
Yet clothes and bags still manage to go under the high street radar compared to some of those other brands, with rival French label Louis Vuitton the bag of choice for many big spenders.
But YSL bags have a certain insouciance that can’t be found in the box shaped or hyper lux variants elsewhere. Saint Laurent is unique and a true French style lovers’ choice.
Prices from 2021 and Price from 2022
Saint Laurent have been predicting price rises for a while, and May saw the first significant increase across a range of products that mirrors movement in the luxury sector.
Most of the reasons for the increases are easy to quantify: Inflation and the related cost of living crisis; Covid hitting footfall and demand [and luxury brands’ expansion gambits] and supply chain issues caused by tensions in Europe, as well as most major fashion houses’ withdrawal from Russia.
Another factor relates to luxury’s gradual increase in prices ahead of inflation and prior to current tensions, tied into the perception of exclusivity being related to higher pricing. In effect, some customers prefer to pay more because they believe they’re getting something better if they do – or that’s the theory.
Regardless of the reasons [and the effects on people’s pockets] Saint Laurent’s increases average at around 10%, with some models slightly more and others not affected at all.
Expect more increases and a tendency for brands to offer little in the way of markdown in the future, although there are plenty of deals on eCommerce sites for discerning buyers.
Most Popular Designs
Saint Laurent bags are a super-stylish alternative to more obvious designer brands like Louis Vuitton or Gucci, more formal and history-driven labels like Burberry, or edgy and ironic offerings from the likes of Moschino.
The Lou Quilted Camera Bag is available in many colours – black and deep red or scarlet being the punchy, transformative colours that give YSL’s laid back approach an edge. The Small Chain Bag is beefier, with a punch stitching technique that makes more than a passing reference to Gucci’s Marmont variants, although it’s a less fussy animal, with a single flap overlay that hides most ribbing and craft work.
These bags need to be worn the YSL way for full effect. Black, cream and faded skinny denim provide effective routes through street and couture worlds, essential paths for the modern bohemian.
Over stuffy or ornamental dressing will camouflage your bag, while over-casual clothing makes the YSL shoulder accessory basically redundant.
The 5 À 7 Hobo bag’s charms are in its implied work-life hours, interpreted however you like. A ‘between’ bag, the hobo has been highlighted as a bag trend to watch this season. It supplements the working woman’s eclectic lifestyle mix of appointments, wardrobes, and transport; being small and practical enough to free hands for phone and portfolio.
The college bag in suede with fringes does relax things to the point where denim or mini are fine go-to combos. However, make sure to match the colours if you want to avoid a cowgirl or jaded hipster look. Many Saint Laurent bags play the muted canvas; you’re encouraged to mix them in to your matching wardrobe’s colour and materials – heavy contrast of primaries is not what the brand are about.
Has quality improved?
Quality was never an overriding issue. Saint Laurent are one of the very best brands for maintaining value and – more than marquee appeal – this has much to do with the fact that they last. And this is because they are well constructed from high quality materials.
Of course, the price increases across the range may be a concern for many, and aspiring customers may expect a similar quality increase to match their inflated outlay.
Rest assured, lambskin and calfskin feature prominently on full grain leather, with brass metallic components and artisanal construction. Designs honour the label’s marquee, while continually employing new and inventive twists.
YSL remains one of the premium luxury labels, and undoubtedly the dominant and most enviable presence at Paris Fashion Week each season. A Saint Laurent look is easily recognisable, and a sophisticated aspiration-point in terms of slim, bohemian, and androgynous style. Just don’t expect the real thing to come cheap.
In recent years there has been a gradual increase in bag prices, with lines such as the LouLou seeing rises by as much as 15%, while variations on the Puffer have also seen significant spikes.
Not all lines have been affected, and the reasons for price escalations are varied: Covid19 has impacted the market, despite overall growth, whilst current economic and political conditions around the world affect supply and demand.
But CEO Francesca Bellettini stays true to Pierre Bergés and Yves Saint Laurent’s original vision with the backing of owners Kering.
Quality and desirability remain most important in their collections, and there are a variety of bags, from the insouciant Hobo or College, to more formal Saffiano leather Totes, that all meet the brand’s upmarket mantra: sophistication is worth the price.