Hervé Chapelier is French but the biggest market for his bags is Japan as they go crazy over his two-toned totes and pouches. If you search #hervechapelier Instagram, you’ll find that most of the posts are by Japanese men and women with the totes. Hervé Chapelier’s second biggest market is Italy.
Herve Chapelier totes are not “It” bags and that is what the Japanese love about them.
In the early 2000s, American preppy college girls carried these nylon bags with the little green labels.
Hervé Chapelier totes are favored by those who seek consistent simple elegance minus the zippers, hardware, tassels, batwings and other features that make “It” bags heavy, cumbersome, and fussy. Not to mention, expensive.
Creator Hervé Chapelier was in Manila last month for a brief 12-hour visit to check out the site of the first Hervé Chapelier store in the country at SM Aura. He was on his way to Japan for a personal appearance.
Hervé Chapelier (center) with Philippines franchise owners Cheryl Lao-Lee and Eric Lee.
“You can’t Google me because I don’t give interviews and I don’t have my picture taken,” said Chapelier, whom we were able to speak with at the Peninsula Manila over French fries and halo-halo.
“You’re lucky that I am doing this interview. The last time I was in Manila was to play rugby in the 1970s,” he told us.
The company, which Chapelier founded in 1976, is based in Paris. The brand is very popular for its handbags, wallets, briefcases, backpacks and, of course, the two-toned totes.
In addition to nylon, Hervé Chapelier also makes a cordura version in camouflage and animal print.
The nylon tote, which has a large square bottom and a triangular body, is the most popular design because of its shape and light weight.
I appreciate many kinds of bags—from pricey to affordable. But one thing that is a deal breaker for me is that the bag itself can’t be heavy since I tend to carry my entire house except the kitchen sink.
If you’re like me, you’ll love the Chapelier totes. I love its bring-it-all appeal without looking like you’re carrying your whole house.
“Look at this,” says Chapelier, showing us a small sling bag that would be great if you are attending a music festival or concert and you can only carry your phone and some cash. “This is one of our bestsellers,” he adds.
The SM Aura store is now open and carries many styles and a wide array of combinations for the two-toned totes.
The bags are all manufactured in France. Because of this, they are pricier than your regular nylon tote.
“This is a good business strategy that costs us more but people really want bags that are made in France. They are willing to pay a premium for that,” said Chapelier.