There was a time during the mid 2010s when nary a paparazzi shot would be without a Celine (then Céline) Luggage bag. The “It” accessory seemed to capture the attention of the celebrity set in a way we have rarely seen since. While these days, stars tote their Saint Laurent Shopping Bags and Louis Vuitton Speedies to fulfill their contractual obligations, the love for the Celine Luggage bag felt authentic—and deserved. That kind of appreciation doesn’t just disappear; you’re not apt to quickly forget a bag that adds structure to even your most slovenly outfit, and one that fits every one of your must-have items.
While it may not be as popular as it once was, the Celine Luggage bag is by no means dead and gone. Fashion writer Brenda Weischer made a plea on TikTok last year for those who’ve been keeping their Luggage bags in the back of the closet to pull them out again. “You have my full support,” she wrote. Clearly, Blackpink’s Lisa listened, because she was recently seen toting the smallest iteration of the bag around London. (If anyone has the ability to aggrandize the accessory, it’s a K-pop star.) With a glut of fans willing to follow her every move, it’s only a matter of time before a new generation adopts the Luggage bag for themselves.
Based on one of the French house’s suitcase design from the 1970s, the Luggage bag features a structured, box-like shape, with a top handle, zipper across the front, and winged sides. Originally available in three different sizes (the Nano, Micro, and Mini, plus the dramatically wide Phantom variety) and numerous color ways and patterns, the piece became Phoebe Philo’s first “It” bag with Celine, debuting not long after the designer took over as the creative director following Ivana Omazic’s brief stint with the company. A spring 2011 Celine campaign heavily featuring the then-new accessory on the arms of Philo muse Daria Werbowy and Stella Tennant introduced the new product to the world. Pastel, washed-out images by Juergen Teller depicted the models showing off the bag in dual-toned colorways. It’s a campaign that has stood the test of time, and both Martina Lohoff and Gabrielle Boucinha—who run their own respective digital Celine shrines in the form of Instagram accounts dedicated to Philo’s tenure at the brand—still remember seeing the images for the first time over a decade later.
“That ad campaign did something to you,” Lohoff, the creator of @thearchivedotcom tells W. “There was a skateboard in it—I don’t see myself riding a skateboard, but I still had a desire to be like the person in the picture.” Bouchinha, who now runs @oldceline, felt a pull toward the images, and credits the campaign as her first “recognizable moment” with the brand. “I just remember seeing those for the first time and really feeling like no other fashion ad ever spoke to me in that way.”
This sentiment is common when it comes to Philo’s Celine (her dedicated fan base often operates more like the stans of a pop music icon than a fashion designer). Many have expressed feeling “seen” by Philo as they have by no other designer before or since, made evident by the designer’s steadfast popularity in the years following her departure. She is often praised for her understanding of women’s true sartorial desires, creating clothes one actually wants to wear, for both their beauty and their practicality. “Her pieces make you feel comfortable,” Lohoff explains before clarifying, “and not comfortable for someone else, but in yourself.”
Philo’s accessories were no different. The Celine Luggage struck a nerve with both the general public and the upper echelons of celebrities. It was seen on the hands of everyone from Mary Kate Olsen to Kim Kardashian and then—poof—one day, just disappeared. But how could such a popular piece get dropped so unceremoniously? These days, when you see a Celine Luggage in the wild, it almost feels like you’re encountering an extinct species. Maybe its ubiquity during the 2010s has led to what’s almost become a shunning of the style more than 10 years later. The bag is very much associated with a different era of fashion—one where Kardashian was more known for her body-con dresses than her Balenciaga bodysuits. Old paparazzi pictures show the bag in bright, conspicuous hues, paired with fur vests, wide-brimmed hats, top buns, and other more questionable style trends of the time. “It’s the styling that throws people off,” Bouchinha says. “You see images of people carrying the bag in skinny jeans and infinity scarves, but I definitely think if you style it better, it will look more modern.”
Celine, though, has a different approach to marketing the bag. They now only sell the piece in four neutral colorways: black, a bluish gray, brown, an off-white for the Nano, and a tan for the Micro—discontinuing the reds, blues, and yellows, as well as the multicolored options. It appears an attempt to modernize the look, and shoehorn it into creative director Hedi Slimane’s more cool-kid, indie rock direction for the brand. Still, if you want to get your hands on a bright red or tricolor bag (or the deceptively named largest size, the Mini, which was discontinued a few years ago), the secondary market is rife with options.
“It’s a volume-driving style,” says Kelly McSweeney, senior merchandise manager at The RealReal. “We sell so many of them, and that shows their true staying power.” McSweeney reports that, since 2018, unit sales are up 40 percent for the Luggage bag, though prices have come down by 60 percent. This is likely because of the large inventory—many are selling off their Luggage bags, possibly to make room for trendier styles. But that just means it’s the perfect time to snatch one up for yourself. The Luggage design is a part of Philo’s history at Celine, a tenure that has proven to hold a regard equivalent to Tom Ford’s time at Gucci or John Galliano’s at Dior. Philo’s recent announcement of the launch of her own, eponymous line has only increased interest in her Celine designs. But while many are currently busy buying up the Foulard shirt or Madame boots, it seems only a matter of time until the collectors turn their sights on the Luggage.
The demand could also increase if Celine officially pulls the Luggage from production. One sales associate at a Neiman Marcus’s Celine said she expects the house to pull the Nano and Micro sizes at any moment to make room for Slimane’s increasingly popular styles. She also noted that they often get little to no warning before a style is discontinued. Celine declined to comment on the fate of the Luggage, but if the rumors are true, the time is now to get your hands on a bag before prices skyrocket.
Because above all else, the Luggage bag is just a good bag, and one worth having in your closet. McSweeney confirms that while itty-bitty purses are still popular, we are slowly making our way out of the tiny bag takeover, with oversized carryalls showing a strong return on the runway—and in real life—this season. People are tired of carrying around their phone because it doesn’t fit in their Jacquemus Le Chiquito. Even the smallest size of the Luggage can store your basic necessities for the day, and you could live out of the Mini for the weekend if ever necessary. For Weischer, the importance of that cannot be overstated. “Honestly, I am all for the comeback of any bag that actually fits things inside of it.”