The 5 best hangers we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A great set of hangers are a worthwhile investment and will last for years.
  • We spoke with three clothing experts and tested several models to find the best options.
  • The ORG Slimline Velvet Suit Hangers can hold a variety of clothing and fit well in small closets.

Many of us are guilty of buying the cheapest hangers we come across and hanging our expensive clothing with them. However, poor-quality hangers can cause serious damage to your favorite clothes, including tears, snags, and stretching that may require you to replace pieces entirely.

We tested eight models and put them through multiple fit, hanging, and durability tests to determine our top picks. After an extensive testing period, we selected five products that are high quality and durable and can hold multiple types of clothing, from heavy, bulky items to silky, lightweight pieces. You can learn more about our testing process here.

We also consulted with three clothing experts to learn more about hanging clothes: Shea Daspin, a fashion and wardrobe stylist; Cynthia Kienzle, founder of The Clutter Whisperer of NYC; and Liz Power, owner of Awoke Vintage.

Our experts shared some best practices for properly storing clothing, which can be found in the FAQ section at the end of this guide.

Here are the best clothes hangers in 2021

The best hangers overall

Five ORG Slimline Velvet Suit Hangers on a clothing rack holding up five pieces of clothing

The ORG Slimline Velvet Suit Hangers are space saving, prevent clothing from slipping, and can hang both heavy and lightweight items.

Pros: Affordable, thin to maximize storage space, have a bar that can hold scarves and belts

Cons: Velvet may attract lint and dust over time

Velvet hangers were highly recommended by our three experts, especially for hanging delicate clothing, due to their ability to keep clothing in shape and prevent slipping. Like other velvet options, the ORG Slimline Velvet Suit Hangers protect your clothing from damage and keep items from slipping into the depths of your closet. However, what differentiates these hangers is that they are very thin, allowing you to fit more clothing in your closet. 

Throughout testing, the hangers performed well, with no clothing falling or slipping. They’re our top choice for those looking to hang a wide variety of clothing in small or large closets. 

Although the slim hangers were able to hold up heavy sweaters and blazers, we don’t recommend using them with heavy outerwear, as they may snap under too much weight. (In general, experts recommend storing these items folded in a dresser.)

They can also hold scarves and belts that can be difficult to store neatly in drawers.

The best budget hangers

Five wooden Ikea hangers on a clothing rack holding up five pieces of clothing

At around 60 cents each, the Ikea Bumerang hangers are the perfect combination of high quality and low price. 

Pros: Affordable, can hold heavy clothing, made of sustainable wood 

Cons: Doesn’t hold up shirts and sweaters with wider necklines well, takes up more closet space

The Bumerang wooden hangers from Ikea are highly recommended by several members of the Reviews team, as well as Awoke Vintage owner Liz Power, who called them a “great, affordable wood option.” 

They’re constructed with solid wood and coated with a protective lacquer that prevents them from splintering and damaging your clothing. They also feature small indents that helped hold lightweight clothing in place during our hanging tests.

While they performed well overall, the hangers did struggle to hold up a cardigan with a wide neckline, which kept slipping off. However, it was able to hold up a heavy blazer just fine, making it a solid option for hanging heavy-weight clothing.

Due to their wood construction, the hangers are a bit thicker than standard velvet and plastic options and take up more closet space. However, if you have a larger closet or are looking to hang just a few pieces of heavier clothing, these can handle the job. They also make great coat hangers.

The best pants hangers

Three pants hangers from The Container Store on a clothing rack holding up a skirt, and two pairs of pants

Clips can cause damage to clothing over time, but The Container Store Chrome Metal Pant Hangers are designed to store pants securely and allow you quick access.

Pros: Non-slip, efficient open-end design, can be used to hang various bottoms and accessories

Cons: Only available in a three-pack, can become expensive if you need a large quantity, hook does not swivel 

If you want to hang pants, it’s best to do so with dedicated pants or skirt hangers, which are designed to hold more weight on the trouser bar. The Chrome Metal Pant Hangers were created with efficiency in mind, from their open-end design to the non-slip coating found on each bar that kept bottoms firmly in place during testing. 

“Putting pants on/off this type hanger is a breeze,” said Kienzle, who recommends them over those with clips, which often leave behind imprints. Compared to the Zober High-Grade Wooden Pants Hangers with Metal Clips that we tested, The Container Store products left all bottoms I hung with no damage or indentations. They’re also very thin, making it easy to fit many in your closet.

The best hangers for formal clothing

Five grey wooden hangers from The Container Store on a clothing rack holding up five pieces of clothing

Hang heavy outerwear, pants, and even sweaters with the Grey Wooden Shirt Hangers from The Container Store.

Pros: Ribbed bar, can handle heavier clothing, available in four finishes 

Cons: Doesn’t have small notches to hold up thin straps, may not be the best option for holding up lightweight items

The Container Store’s Grey Wooden Shirt Hangers are another strong, heavy-duty contender that can handle a variety of clothing weights. They have a ribbed bar that helps hold up pants and skirts. 

The hangers performed well at hanging most items, including a heavy cardigan and a cashmere sweater, but couldn’t keep a strappy slip dress in place (which fell every day throughout testing). They lack small indentations or hooks that would help them hold up clothing with thin straps. 

Overall their durable wood construction makes them a great option for holding up heavy, more formal clothing or coats and are also a good option if you’re looking for wooden suit hangers.

The best plastic hangers

Five plastic Tubular hangers from The Container Store holding up five pieces of clothing

Plastic hangers can be an inexpensive option for those of us with large wardrobes. The Container Store Heavy-Duty Tubular Hangers have a thick construction that is sturdy and durable.

Pros: Fit well in smaller closets, great price, available in multiple colors

Cons: No swivel hooks, no hooks or strap notches

Upon receiving the Tubular Hangers, I was immediately surprised at their thickness, which is custom designed by The Container Store to hold heavy-weight clothing.

Throughout testing, they performed well at holding up jeans, blazers, and sweaters but struggled to hold more lightweight clothing, which constantly slipped off. The hangers don’t have small hooks or indentations that can help hold these items in place. 

We recommend using them with heavier items such as blazers, sweaters, cardigans, most pants, and even lighter coats and avoiding hanging lightweight clothing with thin straps with them.

What else we tested

Five wooden pants hangers with clamps holding up five pairs of pants

What else we recommend and why

HuaQi Clothing Hangers: This stackable option performed extremely well with the five pieces of bulky, heavy clothing I hung on it. However, the design is a bit cumbersome, with some of the hooks falling off of the main hanging mechanism while I was putting the unit together. When clothing was on the hooks this did not happen. They held up well during testing, making them a great option for those with small closets.

What we don’t recommend and why

Zober High-Grade Wooden Pants Hangers with Metal Clips: These hangers performed well at holding up various bottoms such as skirts, silky pants, and jeans. Unfortunately, they left clear indents on most of the bottoms. Over time I could see them doing serious damage to clothing left hanging for long periods of time.

Billkaq Magic Pants Hangers: Although this product performed well during testing, it had a frustrating assembly and instructions that featured unclear, dark images. There are other space-saving hangers that are less of a hassle.

Our testing methodology

All top hanger picks laid out on a wood floor

We put all eight products through the same four tests: 

Closet fit: We hung each product in a closet and noted if any fit awkwardly or were cramped.

Hanging: We used each product to hang five different types of clothing, all made of different materials, including a heavy cardigan or blazer, a silky dress or shirt, a skirt, a turtleneck sweater, and a pair of heavy jeans or pants. When testing products for holding up pants, we hung five different types of bottoms on each, including a pair of jeans, a pair of trousers, a skirt, and a pair of silky pants. After a week we checked the clothing for any imprints or damage.

Everyday use: We shuffled through the hangers every day to make sure they were securely holding up clothing and noted if any items fell off. 

Durability: At the end of the testing period, we checked each product for signs of wear and tear from regular use.

What we look forward to testing

The Container Store Chrome Metal Add-On Skirt/Pant Hangers: While all models with metal clips we tested left deep imprints on pants, we’re eager to test this option, which has a rubber coating between each clip to protect clothing. 

Bed Bath & Beyond 15-Inch Wood Hangers with Removable Satin Covers: The most delicate clothing requires something special, like this wood option with removable satin covers. We want to test these on our delicate blouses and sweaters.

Salt Attachable Hangers: These plastic hangers can be attached to each other for increased closet storage and have notches to hold up clothing with thin straps, which our current plastic pick does not have.

FAQs

All top hanger picks balanced on top of each other on a wood floor

What type of hanger should I buy?

You’ll want to choose hangers based on your closet size and the weight of the clothing you’re looking to hang. Plastic and velvet options are versatile and work best in smaller closets, as they don’t take up much room. If you do have room, wooden models are a great option that can hold up heavy items such as blazers and coats. All our experts strongly recommend avoiding wire hangers that are commonly acquired at the dry cleaners.

“Using wire hangers is a big no-no, but a lot of people still have them in their closet. It’s easy to get into that habit because they are cheap and often come straight from the dry cleaner and are convenient to hold onto,” said stylist Shea Daspin, who dislikes them because they are not able to hold much weight and can sometimes cause damage to clothing. The Clutter Whisperer founder Cynthia Kienzle echoes this and recommends returning wire hangers to the dry cleaners instead of using them in your closet. 

That said, you may want multiple types of hangers in your closet to accommodate your needs. Based on our experts’ advice, we created a chart to make it easier to properly hang clothing in your closet.

Clothing Item Should you hang this item? Type of hanger to use
Satin or silk blouses or dresses Yes Velvet
Heavy knit sweaters No N/A
Turtleneck sweaters Yes Velvet
Blazers or cardigans Yes Wood
Jeans If tight on space, no Plastic or wood
Trousers Yes Wood pants hanger
Skirts Yes Velvet pants hanger

What’s the best way to hang lightweight, silky clothing?

Keeping lightweight clothing in place can be a challenge, especially when using hangers that don’t have the small notches that help keep thin straps and silky clothing in place.

In her store, Awoke Vintage owner Liz Power adds self-adhesive foam slips, similar to these from Amazon, which can be placed on most hangers.

Another option are these Garment Grips from The Container Store that can be used with plastic, wood, and metal and come in shades that will match most hanger colors.


What are some mistakes to avoid when hanging clothing? Which types of clothing should never be hung?

Kienzle emphasized picking one or two types of hangers and sticking with them throughout your closet to cover your hanging needs. She finds that the average closet is filled with too many options, leading to a mismatched mess of hangers.

Kienzle also recommends organizing your closet by clothing type and keeping enough space to flip through and clearly keep track of your clothing. Many of us keep our closets so stuffed that we no longer know what items are actually in them. If you have a smaller closet, you’ll want to make efficient choices about which types of clothing you hang. You should avoid hanging items that are heavy, like jeans, or those that will stretch out and lose shape over time, like sweaters. According to Daspin, you should also avoid hanging cashmere, heavy sweaters, or heavy vintage items.

Daspin said you can extend the life of your clothing by hanging items properly. “A lot of people also make the mistake of hanging clothing by entering a shirt through the neck hole and stretching it out in the process. It’s always best to go up through the bottom to avoid stretching,” said Daspin. 

Lastly, you’ll want to make sure that you take the time to preserve your clothing through buttoning and zipping up sweaters and pants. “Something we are all guilty of is not doing the buttons up on items — natural fibers like linen, cotton, and silk fare best when they are stored with all buttons done up. This is so they don’t lose shape, especially around the collar area,” said Power.

Check out more great organizational buying guides

Simply Houseware Closet
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The latest “it bag” is affordable, accessible, and counts Beyonce as a fan. Here’s what its business model is doing right.

Telfar
  • Fashion brand Telfar is rewriting the rules of luxury and it’s not hard for other brands to follow suit.
  • With its Bag Security Program, customers have a better chance of snagging the brand’s high-demand products.
  • Experts explain why it’s paving the way for next-gen luxury consumers and entrepreneurs.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tianni Graham, 27, remembers the “before times” – that is, the harrowing months before Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program.

It was early last summer and she, along with thousands of others, was stuck testing their luck each day trying to buy the wildly popular Telfar handbag whose celeb fans include Beyonce, Selena Gomez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Solange. But they often sold out before anyone could click ‘check out.’

It turns out, robots and resellers were buying products in bulk, making it harder for real customers to purchase them. So, last summer, Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program, in hopes of giving customers better access to its bags by allowing patrons 24 hours to pre-order any bag on the site, with no limits on how many can be purchased. The bag is then made to order, and shipped directly to the customer.

Its first drop, which happened last August, brought in about $20 million – about 10x what Telfar made in all of 2019.

Suddenly, Graham, who is also a fashion archivist and consultant, had her green Telfar bag. It arrived right before Christmas and was a “present to myself,’ she told Insider, adding that other brands could benefit from implementing a similar program. “It would make things so much easier and make the customer feel like you care.”

The program’s success shows how a luxury brand can create accessibility without losing the allure of exclusivity. The old-school model for luxury brands states the product should be scarce and elite, but the next generation of high-end consumers and entrepreneurs are taking a different route.

What’s more, Telfar is growing its exposure by becoming an official sponsor of the Liberian National team for the Olympics – Clemens is of Liberian descent. Additionally, the brand released collaborations with Ugg and Converse, accessible brands that are affordable to a mass audience, rather than Louis Vuittion and Supreme or Dior and Nike partnerships, which target the aspirational class.

Teflar is rewriting the rules of luxury, and this time, it’s not too hard for other brands to follow suit.

Telfar ‘white glove treatment’ is what next-gen luxury shoppers crave

Young consumers look less at price tags and more at brand values when determining where to spend their money; these next-gen consumers want sustainability, inclusivity, and a sense of community. The new “white glove treatment” when it comes to luxury shopping is a speedy online checkout from a brand that cares.

For Telfar’s latest drop this week, customers had the option to use the payment installment plan Klarna, making it even easier for those looking to obtain a bag. While customers will have to wait a few months before receiving the bag, people often spend years on a Birkin bag “waiting list” and most will probably never get one.

Shortly before Telfar’s program ended this week, a spokesperson for the brand told Insider it was, already, “going very well.”

Telfar started with an aim of inclusive luxury

Telfar was founded in 2005 by its eponymous founder Telfar Clemens and has dedicated the past two decades to building an inclusive business model.

In 2014, it released its now-iconic vegan leather handbag, which takes inspiration from a Bloomingdale’s shopping bag. The bags became widely available around 2018 after Telfar won $400,000 from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, allowing the company to expand production.

Clemens described his brand to The Cut as being “genderless, democratic, and transformative,” purposely seeking to challenge the notion that high fashion is only for a certain group of people, with the brand motto being “Not For You – For Everyone.”

Telfar

Now, Telfar bags come in three sizes, with prices ranging from $150 to $257. (For comparison, Birkin bags go for at least $12,000 while Black-owned luxury brands such as Brother Veilles go for at least $1,295.)

As reported by FT, handbag sales in the US declined 18% between 2016 and 2019. Yet, Telfar stood out – in 2016, the brand earned $102,000, growing to earn $2 million in 2019. Last year, New York Magazine deemed its bag the “Bushwick Birkin” and the brand was on pace to earn eight figures, even as the fashion industry was expected to take a 90% loss in profits due to the pandemic.

Boston Consulting Group’s Head of Luxury Sarah Willersdorf told Insider that Telfar has checked all the boxes on what it takes to connect with next-gen luxury shoppers. She said the brand has a narrative that “evokes emotion” and properly intertwines timelessness, creative partnerships, and culturally relevant authorities. GQ pointed out Telfar’s customer base was built, not through influencers, but through “customer aspiration alone.”

Telfar
Telfar Clemens.

Raising the bar for next-gen luxury

Brands like Telfar are important in proving accessible business models can be just as lucrative. Willersdorf expects other brands to follow similar strategies in a post-pandemic world, as shopping continues to pivot online.

In the old days – a pre-millennial world, perhaps – having too much of a product is thought to dilute its value. The Bag Security program defies that. But even the most tech-savvy luxury brand is often behind the curve, as Insider has previously reported.

“Luxury brands are always nervous,” Joseph Yakuel, CEO and founder of consulting firm Within, told Insider last year. “There’s so much risk to them tarnishing their brand reputation because luxury brand price points are only supported by their perception, and if their brand perception goes down market, their price point gets eroded very quickly.”

Clemens and his artistic director, Babak Radboy, said they aren’t worried about oversaturation. It’s about community, now. The new “white glove treatment” is making sure everybody gets a pair that fits perfectly.

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Iconic luxury department store Harrods will now rent you clothes from high-end designers, and $1,000 dresses cost $20 a day

Harrods
The window display at Harrods in London’s Knightsbridge.

  • UK luxury department store Harrods will now let shoppers rent designer clothes.
  • Prices start at $8 a day to rent a designer top. There is a four-day minimum rental period.
  • Dresses that would normally cost more than $1,000 to buy can be rented for about $20 a day.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

One of the world’s most iconic luxury department stores, Harrods, has joined a growing list of retailers joining the fashion rental market.

London-based Harrods has partnered with a UK fashion rental marketplace My Wardrobe HQ to let customers rent the designer brands sold at its Knightsbridge store.

Prices start at $8 a day for a minimum of four days to rent a designer top. Dresses that would normally cost more than $1,000 to buy can be rented for about $20 a day.

According to Business of Fashion, Harrods will provide the stock and My Wardrobe HQ will handle the logistics and marketing. Customers can rent the clothes via My Wardrobe HQ’s website or in its pop-up location at the Harrods store.

The fashion rental business is booming, spurred by companies such as Rent the Runway launching subscription-based services for customers to rent clothes. Increasingly, retailers have been partnering with clothes-rental sites or launching their own services, such as Urban Outfitters’ Nuuly.

For Harrods, it’s a way of using last season’s inventory that was stuck in stores over the pandemic.

“There have been many spectacular collections and stand-out pieces that haven’t had the chance to be seen or celebrated, so offering these pieces to our customers to rent for their next event is a way of giving these products a new life,” Harrods fashion director Lydia King told WWD.

“Our fashion customers have more weddings, birthdays and other celebrations than ever before, and the joy of event dressing is back,” she said.

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Gap could shutter even more US stores after closing 81 in the UK, analysts warn. ‘We’re in for some radical right-sizing.’

A Gap employee packs shopping in a bag while a customer pays
Gap is closing its UK stores.

  • Retail analysts are worried that Gap will be forced to close even more stores in North America.
  • Gap said Wednesday that it’s shuttering all its 81 stores in the UK and Ireland.
  • One analyst also said that Gap’s new Yeezy and Walmart lines smacked of “desperation.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

New York, Paris, Milan, London: the fashion capitals of the world. The four cities are home to the flagship stores of every clothes retailer with designs on the global market.

Yet Gap, the international retail icon famed for its laid-back American style, will soon be gone from London: it said this week that it’s closing all its 81 stores in the UK and Ireland. And in Paris and Milan, Gap’s future is uncertain: it’s in talks to offload some or all of its French and Italian businesses.

It’s no secret that Gap has been closing stores in North America for years amid falling sales. There were 552 Gap stores in the region at the end of May this year – precisely half the number there were a decade earlier, company figures show. In October last year, it set out plans to shutter 350 Gap and Banana Republic stores in North America by 2023.

However, retail analysts interviewed by Insider said that Gap’s drastic action in Europe this week signaled that even more stores will need to be shuttered across North America. They also said that the company needed to completely rethink what it’s doing in the US.

“I don’t see them closing all their US stores by any means,” said Natalie Berg, an independent retail analyst. “But I think we’re in for some radical right-sizing. The uncomfortable truth is they still have way too many stores.”

Berg said Gap stores were “no longer fit for purpose.”

“They can’t just be about selling clothes any more,” she said. “You need to give shoppers a reason to ditch their screens; give them an experience they can’t get online.”

Insider has approached Gap for comment.

From September, Gap will be online-only in the UK and Ireland. Berg said: “Lots of clothes retailers are doing the same thing, so now you have all this competition online. You have to ask: is online becoming a digital graveyard for failing brands?”

Maureen Hinton, an analyst at GlobalData, agreed that there was “probably more to go” for Gap’s store closure programme in North America.

She said: “Gap is really struggling to find its own identity – and it has been for a long time.”

Hinton said that Gap needed “a much stronger strategy” for the US, focusing on “what its brand identity is all about – who it’s targeting and how it’s going to do it.”

“It’s got Yeezy at one end and it’s doing things with Walmart at the other,” she said. “That sounds like desperation.”

Gap is banking on a collaboration with Yeezy, Kanye West’s fashion brand, to help reinvigorate its fortunes. The first Yeezy Gap product dropped last month: a limited-edition, bright blue, recycled nylon puffer jacket with a price tag of $200.

Gap’s new tie-up with Walmart is less flashy. The new Gap Home line, sold exclusively in Walmart stores, features a $43 stoneware dinner set and a $20 tie-dye shower curtain.

Shoppers in London won’t get to buy any of these things.

Around midday on Thursday, only a few dozen customers were browsing hoodies, jeans, baby clothes, and other apparel on the four floors of Gap’s UK flagship store on Oxford Street, the heart of London’s shopping district.

Amanda, 24, who shops at the store every few weeks for herself and her three-year-old daughter, said she hadn’t heard it was being shut down. “I wore Gap stuff when I was a kid – my mum put me in it,” she said. “She used to come here too. That’s really sad.”

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Gap is shuttering all its 81 stores in the UK and Ireland, as the fashion brand struggles with falling global sales

Shoppers pass the GAP store on Oxford Street on June 10, 2021 in London, England
Gap said that it would shut its UK and Republic of Ireland stores between late August and late September.

  • Gap is closing all its UK and Ireland stores by the end of September, but said it would still sell clothes online.
  • The retailer has been struggling amid rising e-commerce competition.
  • Falling sales for its Gap brand have been offset by the success of its Old Navy and Athleta lines.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gap is closing all stores in the UK and the Republic of Ireland as sales fall globally for the fashion brand.

It will close all 81 stores by the end of September, but continue selling clothes online, it said Wednesday.

Gap attributed the move to “market dynamics.”

“The e-commerce business continues to grow and we want to meet our customers where they are shopping,” the company said in a statement. “We’re becoming a digital first business and we’re looking for a partner to help drive our online business.”

Gap said that it would shut the stores between late August and late September. It opened its first UK store in 1987 and its first in the Republic of Ireland in 2006.

In October, Parent Gap Inc. announced the closure of 350 Gap and Banana Republic stores in North America.

Gap Inc. posted first quarter global net sales of $4 billion, up 8% compared to 2019 – but the success of its Old Navy and Athleta brands drove this increase.

First quarter revenues for its Gap brand fell 16% compared to 2019. In comparison, net sales grew 25% for Old Navy and 56% for Athleta.

“Gap was decades ahead in offering the athleisure styles which have become so popular during the pandemic,” Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said in a statement shared with Insider.

“But even though revenues have surged at Gap over the past year, its own brand ranges haven’t set sales alight.”

The 52-year-old brand, which is still “rooted in its heyday heritage,” has “suffered from a kind of benign neglect,” Danni Hewson, financial analyst at AJ Bell, said.

Gap said that it had started a review of its company-operated business in Europe last year to find ways to make it more cost-effective. The company said that it was in talks with Hermione People and Brands, the retail branch of FIB Group, about taking over its stores in France, and was in discussions with another partner for the potential acquisition of its Italian stores.

Online fashion giants have posted soaring revenues during the pandemic

“In this changing retail landscape and with so much shopping shifting to online, shedding expensive rents makes sense for the company, particularly given the success of online-only fashion rivals,” Streeter said.

More Brits have been buying clothes online during waves of government-mandated store closures – leading to soaring revenues for online fast-fashion giants. In the year to February, Boohoo posted sales of £1.75 billion, a 41% growth year-over-year. And in the six months to February, Asos posted sales of £1.98 billion, a jump of nearly a quarter compared to the same period a year before.

Online isn’t the only way for fashion brands to be successful, Hewson said. British giant Primark is topping its pre-pandemic sales despite shunning e-commerce, she said.

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Why Hermès Birkin bags are so expensive, according to a handbag expert

Following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: Hermès Birkin bags are some of the most expensive bags in the world, ranging anywhere from $9,000 to half a million dollars. The bags embody absolute luxury.

– A Birkin bag?

– You’ve heard of it?

– Of course. That’s a very nice purse.

Narrator: The exclusive accessory’s even considered by some to be a better investment than gold or the stock market. And the world’s most expensive bag is an Hermès Himalaya Birkin bag that sold for $500,000. So what is it that makes Birkin bags so expensive? The story of the bag begins with its namesake: Jane Birkin. On a flight from Paris to London, the English actress happened to be seated next to the chief executive of Hermès, Jean-Louis Dumas.

Pilot: Flight attendants, please prepare for takeoff.

Narrator: Jane was known for carrying a wicker basket wherever she went and used it for everything from groceries to diapers. When she tried to fit her famous basket in the overhead compartment, the lid came off, spilling the contents everywhere. Jane complained to her seatmate that it was impossible to find a weekend bag she liked. Dumas introduced himself as the head of Hermès, and the pair spent the flight sketching possible handbag designs on the back of an airplane sick bag. A year later, Dumas presented Jane with the Birkin bag, a spacious yet sophisticated leather design perfect for everyday use. The Birkin’s pockets made it highly functional, and the bag seals to prevent anything from spilling. Hermès makes the bags in France using premium materials like calf skin, alligator skin, and even ostrich skin. Each bag is made entirely by hand.

Although Birkins are one of the most exclusive and sought-after bags today, they actually weren’t all that popular when they first launched. It wasn’t until the ’90s that the Birkin became one of the it-bags of the era. Now they’re the ultimate status symbol. Victoria Beckham reportedly has a collection of over 100 Birkins, estimated to be worth over $2 million, and Singaporean socialite and entrepreneur Jamie Chua is considered to have the world’s largest Birkin collection with over 200 bags.

But you can’t just walk into Hermès and get one. While there used to be a wait list, nowadays all you can do is hope to be important enough or spend enough to be offered a Birkin bag. And if you’re offered one, don’t expect to be able to choose the color or size.

Hermès also places limits on how many Birkin bags a client can purchase per year. This dedication to preserving the exclusivity of the bag has certainly paid off, and the disparity in demand and access has created a thriving resale market.

A 2017 study revealed that the value of Hermès Birkin bags has increased 500% in the last 35 years, an increase of 14% per year. One of the most coveted models comes from Hermès’ Himalaya collection, which comes in three sizes. Often referred to as the holy grail of handbags, the white Himalaya Birkin bag features 18-karat white gold hardware and more than 200 diamonds. The 35-centimeter model in particular is very rare and has sold at record prices year after year. Most recently in 2019, it sold for over half a million dollars. Professional sports betting consultant David Oancea, also known as Vegas Dave, made the record-breaking purchase.

David Oancea: The reason I bought the Birkin bag is I love breaking records. I broke all the sports betting records, I wanted to break the most-expensive-bag record. I’m all about raising the bar. Also, it’s about supply and demand. The only other one in the world is by Steve Harvey’s wife, so there’s only two in the world. Not even Kim Kardashian has this, so I actually bought it for content, believe it or not, so I could take videos with it, pictures of it, getting people to talk about me.

Narrator: The record-breaking sale actually took place over social media.

Oancea: Sale was pretty easy. I posted on social media, I have about a million followers, that I’m looking for a bag. This lady hit me up, Privé Porter. She messaged me, said she’d get me the bag. I realized it was the most expensive bag. She said it would break the record. And this is for sure the record, $500,000?

– Absolutely, most expensive bag ever sold.

Oancea: We closed this deal in about three to four days, really, really fast. I actually do use the bag. Most people think I’m crazy. They put it away like in a safe, and they never touch it again. I’ve taken it out twice, once to a night club in Vegas as a great piece of content. It’s definitely worth the cost ’cause you could offer me a million dollars cash, and I wouldn’t sell it. My asking price is $2 million. If not, I’ll just keep the d— thing.

Narrator: It’s also made with white or albino crocodile skin, which is extremely rare. The costly skin is painstakingly dyed to emulate the snowy appearance of the Himalayan mountains.

Mason Howell: The high retail value and resale value is because these are pieces of artwork. These artisans train years and years to make one of these bags, and they may even train 10 years before even they’re allowed to make a Birkin.

Narrator: Another reason for the bag’s high price of course is the limited availability. The total number of Birkin bags Hermès produces each year is a well-guarded secret, but it’s estimated that there may be around 200,000 in circulation. And for the luxury resale market, Birkin bags are a hot commodity. Online retailer Privé Porter uses Instagram and WhatsApp to sell the bags online, and luxury reseller The RealReal has hundreds of Birkins available at any given time, many of which are priced well above the original retail cost.

Howell: The Birkin bag does retain and sometimes exceeds its value. It really does depend on the leather, the color, the size of the bag, you know, the hardware. There are so many factors that go into pricing a Birkin that it could really vary. However, if you do buy a Birkin, let’s say in 2004, and maybe the retail at that time was $5,000, you most likely will be able to sell it, even if you have worn it so many times, for $5,000, $6,000.

Narrator: Even as resellers like The RealReal and Privé Porter have made more Birkins available than ever, the prices haven’t gone down.

Howell: If you go to Hermès, you may not always get the exact color, size, that you want. Here, we have almost every single option, and if that means you have to pay a small premium, people and our clients are willing to do so. Even though that there has been such a saturation of these bags, not one bag is the same. So let’s say an Etain Birkin 35 with gold hardware, we only have one right now, and if it’s sold, we may not get another for a while, so someone’s looking for that, and they’d be willing to pay an extra maybe $10,000 to get that bag as soon as possible, and all these bags are handmade, artisan craftsmanship. It’s a piece of artwork. Not one is the same, not even one stitch.

Narrator: So if you have an extra $10,000 lying around, it could be worthwhile to invest it in a Birkin. Just make sure that you’re not falling for a fake. From Canal Street in New York City to websites like eBay, the counterfeit market is full of luxury knockoffs, and Birkins are no exception. Back in 2012, Hermès sued several websites for selling fake products and won $100 million in damages.

That same year, French police cracked down on an international crime ring that was manufacturing counterfeit Birkin bags. The crime ring reportedly included actual Hermès employees. Only two employees were arrested, but Hermès believed that several other employees could have been involved. And despite all their efforts, fake products continue to flood the market. The quality of counterfeit bags has also vastly improved over the years, making it difficult to tell whether a bag is real or fake. However, there are a few tricks to spotting a fake Birkin.

Howell: The handle should never be too long. If they look too long, longer than the bag, then it is most likely inauthentic. The hardware shouldn’t be too shiny or protrude out, and the feet, another big thing, it’s one of the best things I always check, is that the feet should never screw off. They are hammered in. The leather itself should feel very supple, very luxurious.

Narrator: And if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is. While many other handbag styles have come and gone, it looks like the Birkin is here to stay. And the bag has become synonymous with status in a way that many other luxury goods have yet to.

Despite its popularity, the bag features no prominent logos and is only recognizable to people who already know what it is. In Birkin, Hermès has created something that feels inaccessible unless highly exclusive. As for whether the Birkin will always be so expensive, only time will tell.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in June 2019.

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Victoria’s Secret ditched its Angels after a successful decades-long partnership. Take a closer look at how the concept was born – and why the lingerie chain thinks Angels are no longer relevant.

Victoria's Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio
Alessandra Ambrosio walks the runway during the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show in Shanghai.

  • Victoria’s Secret Angels have been synonymous with the lingerie brand for decades.
  • However, as part of an extreme brand turnaround, the lingerie label is bidding them farewell.
  • But how did Angels come about? Insider tapped into the history of the tradition since its inception.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.
This month, after nearly two decades, Victoria’s Secret confirmed that it is ending its Angels brand.

miranda kerr victoria's secret fashion show 2012
Victoria’s Secret Angel Miranda Kerr walks the runway during the 2012 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at the Lexington Avenue Armory on November 7, 2012 in New York City.

Its CEO Martin Waters said that the Angels were no longer “culturally relevant” and would not be a part of the brand as it undergoes a major turnaround effort.

Instead, it has taken on a group of seven new spokeswomen – a mix of activists and entrepreneurs to promote its new image.

Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

This includes actress and entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra Jonas and soccer player and gender-equality activist Megan Rapinoe. 

Read more: Victoria’s Secret’s new CMO on how the brand’s radically different new image will help it win back disillusioned shoppers

So how did the concept of an Angel first come about and why is it being abandoned?

Victoria's Secret old
Victoria’s Secret’s first Angels.

Models Helena Christensen, Karen Mulder, Daniela Peštová, Stephanie Seymour, and Tyra Banks were the first Angels.

The name was coined in 1997 after they appeared in an ad to promote Victoria’s Secret’s “Angels” underwear collection.

From then on, the Angels became an elite group of models that were carefully selected to become the face and voice of the brand.

Victoria's Secret old

Since the late 1990s, these Angels have become one of the most well-known parts of the brand.

Though there have been hundreds of Victoria’s Secret models over the years, many of which have walked its runway show, not all have made it to the elite status of an Angel.

Victoria's Secret Angels
Victoria’s Secret Launches “Angels 2000” Bra. Daniela Pestova, Stephanie Seymour, Karen Mulder, Ines Rivero.

Through their contracts with Victoria’s Secret, they were required to be featured in campaigns, talk shows, and runway events.

Victoria’s Secret was previously vague about how their contracts worked and what they are actually expected to do.

Elsa Hosk, a former Victoria's Secret Angel
Elsa Hosk wears The 2018 Dream Angels Fantasy Bra at The Plaza Hotel Palm Court on November 5, 2018, in New York City.

But reports indicate that being an Angel requires a big commitment of time and responsibility.

“Becoming an Angel means you are officially part of the family of Victoria’s Secret,” Elsa Hosk said in an All-Access video back in 2015

“You are a spokesperson for the whole brand, and that is such a cool thing because it’s one of the biggest, most amazing brands in the world,” she said. 

Angels get to go home with multi-million dollar pay cheques.

Adriana Lima
Adriana Lima.

Although it is unclear how much angels are paid year on year, many were among some of the world’s highest-paid models. As previously reported by Insider, 11 of the 17 women on Forbes’ list for The Highest Paid Models 2016 have been Victoria’s Secret Angels. 

World-famous models including Gisele Bündchen and Adriana Lima, who hold a superior status with the brand, have finished years with multi-million-dollar salaries, per Insider. In 2018, Bündchen earned $30.5 million and Lima $10.5 million, but other Angels, including Taylor Hill and Jasmine Tookes took home $4 million. 

 

But the level of commitment has meant that Victoria’s Secret has lost Angels in the past.

Karlie Kloss, during her time as a Victoria's Secret Angel
Karlie Kloss pictured (R).

As previously reported by Insider, Doutzen Kroes and Karlie Kloss both pulled out of contracts early to focus on other commitments.

Sources highlighted to Page Six that relatively little pay over time was also a factor in Angels’ decision to depart. “Older contracts like Alessandra Ambrosio used to be in the millions, now they’re like $100,000,” a source told the outlet. 

There have been 41 Angels in total since 1997 when Christensen, Mulder, Peštová, Seymour, and Banks were first taken on.

Tyra Banks
Tyra Banks walks the runway at The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show at the 69th Regiment Armory November 9, 2005 in New York.

Banks was the first black model to become an Angel.

Over the years, these women became a defining part of its increasingly elaborate runway shows and risque brand image.

Gisele Bundchen at the 1999 Victoria's Secret Fashion show
Gisele Bündchen walks the runway at the 1999 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show.

In 1999, its annual fashion show aired for the first time online and was described as the internet-breaking moment of that time after 1.5 million people tried to tune in and crashed the site.

The year after that, Angel Gisele Bündchen walked the runway in what was then the most expensive item of lingerie ever created, a $15 million diamond-and-ruby-encrusted ‘Fantasy Bra.’

Gisele Bundchen wearing the $15 million Victoria's Secret 'Fantasy Bra'
Gisele Bündchen.

The tradition to wear a “Fantasy Bra” at every runway show came about in 1996 when Claudia Schiffer wore a diamond-encrusted bra that cost $1 million. 

The shows became more lavish over the years.

Taylor Swift performs at the Victoria's Secret fashion show in 2014
Taylor Swift performs at Victoria’s Secret fashion show in 2014.

From popular musical acts including Taylor Swift and Kanye West, elaborate costumes and historical venues, to models sporting ornamental Angel “wings,” that can take up to 400 hours of labor, down the runway, the shows became a yearly attraction for many.

Carrying the wings was no easy feat.

Victoria's Secret Angel Alessandra Ambrosio
Alessandra Ambrosio walks the runway during the 2017 Victoria’s Secret Fashion show in Shanghai.

One year, Angel Alessandra Ambrosio revealed in an interview on “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” that she wore one of the heaviest pairs of wings in history in 2011, weighing around 60 pounds, per Insider

Some of the world’s top supermodels including Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner were among the catwalk’s line-up but never made it to Angel status.

Kendall Jenner walks the runway at the 2018 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show
Kendall Jenner walks the runway at the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

Between 2016 and 2018, Victoria’s started to lose market share and its racy brand image. Angels were viewed as being increasingly out-of-touch and out of date in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

This came to a head in 2018, just weeks before its annual fashion show was due to air on television.

Ed Razek
Ed Razek.

Ed Razek, the marketing chief and brains behind the show, caused a backlash after he made controversial comments about plus-size and transgender models in an interview with Vogue.

Read morePeople slammed Victoria’s Secret after its marketing chief made controversial comments about transgender models, but he didn’t resign. This could be why, according to former executives.

When the show aired on TV, viewership numbers sank by 34%.

victoria's secret ed razek
Razek speaks to the 2018 Victoria’s Secret runway models backstage during the 2018 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

The year after, for the first time since it launched in 1995, the show was canceled just after Razek left the company.

The Angels stayed on and in early 2019, a new Angel was announced – Barbara Palvin.

Barbara Palvin
Barbara Palvin.

At the time, fans praised Victoria’s Secret for selecting a more body-positive model, though she wasn’t plus size.

Over the course of 2020, the company underwent some major changes.

Les Wexner

Its longtime leader Les Wexner stepped down and it began the hiring of a brand new executive team. This included a new marketing head and creative director.

And under new leadership, the brand is refocusing its image.

Victoria's Secret
A Victoria’s Secret store in the UK.

“We’re moving from what men want to what women want,” CEO Waters said about the company’s repositioning, in a recent earnings call. “From sexy for a few to sexy for all.”

“It’s about including most women rather than excluding most women and being grounded in real life, rather than mostly unattainable,” he said.

And that apparently means no Angels. 

 

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Employees revamping their office wardrobe could have big effects on the environment

clothes clothing shopping mall shopper dublin
  • With the return of in-person work, consumers are expected to spend more on office clothes.
  • Plastic-based clothing items and the practice of “bracketing” contribute to landfill waste.
  • Resale sites such as Poshmark and ThredUp help alleviate fashion’s harmful environmental effects.
  • Subscribe to our biweekly newsletter, Insider Sustainability.

For many workers, a return to in-person work means trading in-house clothes and sweatpants for new business-casual outfits. Companies are reporting sales also being driven by summer outings, size differences, and vaccination-related comfort with in-store shopping. In the UK, clothing sales rose by 70% in April and are expected to rise by 78% in the US over the summer, driven largely by back-to-school purchases.

While these increases are indications of an economic recovery for the global fashion industry, there are also significant environmental downsides to new clothing purchases. And the popularity of fast fashion has only exacerbated matters.

According to a report from the World Economic Forum, the fashion industry produces 10% of “all humanity’s carbon emissions and is the second-largest consumer of the world’s water supply.” In addition to toxic chemicals, dyes, and noxious emissions from the production process, modern global textile production is primarily not biodegradable, with more than 52% of fabrics being made from polyester in 2019, according to an industry report from Textile Exchange.

After production, clothing and textiles are transported from facilities in developing countries to stores worldwide. But many of the common office-attire items sold – blouses, dresses, suits, and accessories – are made of harmful plastic-based materials like nylon, acrylic, and fleece. The unsustainable impact of these materials is worsened by bracketing, a common practice in which consumers buy several items with the intention of returning most of them. Bracketing contributes to billions of tons of nonbiodegradable landfill waste, higher restocking costs, and carbon emissions from additional transportation.

Cleaning clothing also has a dirty side. Every time plastic-based textiles are washed, it results in the release of microplastics, many of which aren’t caught by wastewater-treatment facilities. Moreover, dress shirts and other officewear sent to the dry cleaner often involve the use of a chemical known as PERC, which has “serious environmental effects” and is a known neurotoxin.

According to the EPA, when consumers are tired of their clothing, including their go-to office garb, only 15% of it gets recycled. And donations to charities such as Goodwill, The Salvation Army, and TRAID? Those often end up in landfills. It all contributes to textiles being the second-largest source of global plastic waste at 42 million metric tons.

While some might go back to their prepandemic spending habits, others might be more conscious of their shopping routines. More sustainable options that help reduce the production of new clothing items include shopping on online resale sites like Poshmark, Mercari, ThredUp, and Grailed. There are also rental services like Rent the Runway, Nuuly, as well a variety of mall chains and brands. These offer consumers the option of new looks with lower environmental footprints, a choice that’s always in style.

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Kanye West was spotted wearing the new Gap Yeezy jacket and Nike shoes – but he still has 5 years left on his partnership with Adidas

Kanye West at 2008 Grammy awards
Kanye West at 2008 Grammy awards

  • Kanye West stepped out wearing Nike shoes and his newly-announced Gap x Yeezy jacket last week.
  • West has a partnership with Adidas, which controls the site his Yeezy shoes are sold on, per Bloomberg.
  • Some social media users speculated he could be signalling an end to his Adidas deal by wearing Nike.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Kanye West wore Nike shoes when he stepped out in the newly announced first product of his Gap and Yeezy collaboration.

West, who founded the apparel brand Yeezy, was spotted out on June 3 wearing Nike shoes and a bright blue puffy coat. A week after the photos were taken, Gap announced the $200 coat would be the first product created in collaboration with Yeezy.

West and Adidas announced the two would partner in 2013, in a deal reportedly worth $10 million at the time. Bloomberg reported Yeezy has a valuation of $3.2 billion to $4.7 billion, per investment bank UBS, due to the lucrative partnerships with Gap and Adidas. The partnership with Adidas, Bloomberg notes, runs through 2026.

Social media users pointed out the Nike shoes, and speculated whether he was in breach of the Adidas contract or announcing an end to the partnership.

West has ownership over the Yeezy brand, but Adidas operates the website his shoes are sold on. Yeezy x Adidas sneaker sales amounted to $1.7 billion in 2020, according to Bloomberg, netting West with $191 million in royalties.

West’s first sneaker, the $245 limited-edition Air Yeezy, was released in collaboration with Nike in 2009. The shoe later sold on the resale market for thousands of dollars, and a prototype of the shoe with a value of more than $1 million could become the priciest sneakers ever sold.

Some analysts and insiders consider Yeezy one of the most influential sneaker brands ever, reportedly inspiring the now-popular shoe brand Allbirds, Insider’s Mary Hanbury reported.

Nike, Adidas, and a representative for Kanye West did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Gwyneth Paltrow is Rent the Runway’s newest board member – but she’s never used the clothes-rental service

Gwyneth Paltrow Getty Images
Gwyneth Paltrow joins Rent the Runway’s board.

  • Gwyneth Paltrow is joining the board of directors at clothes-rental service Rent the Runway.
  • Paltrow told The New York Times that she’s never used Rent the Runway.
  • “I’ve got my welcome code in my inbox, so I’ll soon be trying it out,” she told The Times.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gwyneth Paltrow, actress and founder of lifestyle brand Goop, is joining the board of directors at Rent the Runway, the clothes-rental service. The news was first reported by The New York Times.

Paltrow told The Times that she’s never actually used Rent the Runway.

Rent the Runway started in 2009 as a way to rent one-off items for special events. It’s grown into a platform for people to rent everyday clothes instead of buying new ones. It has also added kids’ clothing and homeware rentals, via a partnership with West Elm.

“What’s fascinating is that, in my own way, I’ve been renting the runway for years,” she told The Times. “Borrowing a dress from a designer for a single moment at a premiere or an awards show, then giving it back afterward. Now I guess everyone is doing it. But I’ve got my welcome code in my inbox, so I’ll soon be trying it out.”

Read more: EXCLUSIVE: Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman, one of the most successful female founders, is fighting to save her company

Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman is hoping to tap into Paltrow’s entrepreneurial expertise. Critics say some of Goop’s products and recommendations, including its $66 vaginal jade eggs or bee venom therapy, are backed by unsubstantiated health claims, but Paltrow has built the brand into a $250 million empire.

“Gwyneth’s keen understanding of consumer psychology and unparalleled ability to tap into and define the cultural zeitgeist will play a key role in propelling Rent the Runway forward in a post-pandemic world,” Hyman said in a LinkedIn post this week, adding that the two have known each other for longer than a decade.

Rent the Runway started in 2009 as a way to rent one-off items for special events, and it’s grown to become a platform for renting everyday items as an alternative to buying new clothes. It has also added kids’ clothing and homeware rentals, via a partnership with West Elm.

Pre-pandemic, CEO Jennifer Hyman was prepping it to become the “Amazon Prime of rental” by diversifying into new areas. But when the pandemic hit, people went off the idea of renting clothes. It wiped $250 million from the company’s valuation, and Hyman was forced to close its stores and lay off or furlough half of its staff.

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