Indian women clutch it up

By Radhika Bhirani, IANS
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

NEW DELHI - Hollywood’s Anne Hathaway and Jeniffer Lopez flaunt them, so do Bollywood’s Aishwarya Rai and Sonam Kapoor. And now flashy, bejewelled and palm-sized clutch bags have made it to every fashion fanatic’s wardrobe in India - never mind if they defy practicality.

“The explosion of tiny evening bags has been a blessing for women who only need to carry basic items for a short span of the evening - such as the cell phone, car keys, lip gloss and a little cash. But the latest designs today are more an object of art, a statement piece rather than just a ‘bag’,” Saraswathi Arjunan, spokesperson of gordonMax Crysthelo evening bags, told IANS.

No doubt clutches have been around in all shapes and sizes in India for the past few years. But it is the tiny, hard bound, crystal studded, expensive variety that is catching the fancy of many nowadays.

Of course, they are statement pieces. How else would one explain a pure gold clutch, encrusted with real rubies and diamonds, owned by jewellery designer Farah Khan Ali?

“I own a real ruby, diamond and gold clutch presented to me by someone. That I would say is the most expensive clutch I own,” said Farah.

But how practical is it?

“Usually I only keep my lipstick, house keys, mobile and a compact. I agree it is not a practical investment, but fashion never is. It is all about feeling good,” she said.

Even socialite Riddhima Kapoor, daughter of Bollywood veterans Rishi and Neetu Kapoor, believes “nothing usually fits into a palm-sized clutch…maybe just a gloss!”

“Having one or two is good enough. I wouldn’t consider it a practical investment,” she added.

But Arjunan says evening bags are not really about practicality.

“Evening bags actually got their start as a coin purse hung from a girdle around the waist. The thing that differentiates the evening bag from a regular handbag is that evening bags have always had a certain status appeal and do not take into consideration practicality,” she said.

Large, pocketed clutch bags ruled the roost for quite some time in India, before paving the way for much smaller, blingy versions.

These are also being picked up by many college-goers and middle-class women who are becoming fashion conscious.

“Earlier one used to see women going out mostly with their husbands, brothers or boyfriends, but things have really changed. They move out with their own set of friends and colleagues and don’t always need to carry a big bag as there are minimal things to carry - her credit cards, mobile phone, money, house keys and some make-up like a lipstick…so a clutch is appropriate in terms of practicality and obviously looks trendy too,” Nina Lekhi, CEO of bags and accessories brand Baggit.

Lekhi says her brand of clutches witnesses a boost of 18-20 during the partying season in winter, but she has seen an annual growth of around eight percent.

Shivani Gaur, a 25-year-old, is quite regular at parties. She said:

“It becomes really hard to manage a sling bag at discotheques, where you like to let your hair down. But a clutch is small, holds the important things you need…and it looks stylish. It’s nice to have it in different colours and in metallic tones for it to go with all dresses.”

In fact, Shivani’s mother borrows her clutches at times for weddings and other family functions - so they are conducive for all age groups - from 16 to even over 60!

“Even if a clutch doesn’t hold much, what’s the harm? It looks good and attracts attention. What more do girls want?” quipped Rakhi Sachdeva, a 27-year-old marketing executive.

A decent clutch would cost anywhere upwards of Rs.1,000, but luxury clutch brands like gordonMax, Jimmy Choo and Judith Lieber can conveniently cost over Rs.50,000.

(Radhika Bhirani can be contacted at

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