7:08pm

Tue February 8, 2011
The Two-Way

In China, Men Buy 45 Percent Of Luxury Handbags

This is a piece you might have missed from yesterday's Los Angeles Times: David Pierson, reporting from Beijing, tells us that 45 percent of luxury handbag buyers in China are men. That's a $1.2 billion industry. In the U.S., that figure is a measly 7 percent.

The story has a full explanation of how this came to be, so click on over. But here's a passage that gives you a picture of the whole Prada-toting men phenomenon:

The 41-year-old investor was dressed in the unofficial uniform of Chinese businessmen: dark blazer, crisp white shirt, designer slacks, silky tan socks, hand-tooled loafers — and an expensive purse.

Lest anyone think the $500 Dunhill clutch with dual bronze zippers belonged to his wife, he proudly explained how his business cards, cash and two cellphones fit neatly into its buttery leather interior.

"It's crucial for business," said Zhang, who chose the chocolate-colored bag because he thought it was stylish without being flashy. "It shows I have good taste."

That's debatable, considering Zhang wore his hair in a cotton candy pouf. What's clear is that the designer handbag, long a fashion staple for stylish women worldwide, has become a status symbol for upwardly mobile men in China.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Related program: