Bagged!

1970s, aristos, art of bags, biba, british boutique movement, chelsea girl, countdown, crowthers, irvine sellars, jean varon, john bates, just looking, king's road, laura ashley, mr freedom, ravel, stop the shop, take 6

Aristos © John Hendy

I couldn’t resist following ‘Tagged!’ with ‘Bagged!’. The art of the carrier bag seems even less appreciated than the art of the hang tag, despite its importance in the history of advertising and consumerism.

On Simon Hendy’s incredible website “My Dad’s Photos“, Simon has scanned a mountain of original photos that his father took across six years of fashionable (and not so fashionable) people on the King’s Road in the late Sixties and early Seventies. It is truly a delight to sift your way through them. They are a true time capsule of ‘real’ people wearing ‘real’ clothes in a period where photo opportunities were frequently engineered and crafted (as brilliant as Frank Habicht’s ‘In The Sixties’ is, it’s a very well-crafted form of ‘candid’ photography). I will definitely post about them again, not least because I recognise so many bits of clothing from designers I love.

However, today’s post is about the carrier bag. For, as I was sifting through and starting to get a bit dizzy with the amazingness of it all, I started to notice the bags people were carrying. Biba, Aristos, Stop the Shop, Crowthers… These are truly ephemeral items. How many people bother to keep a plastic bag? You might, if you were lucky, have wrapped something up in one and plonked it in your loft for the past forty years. But these examples are few and far between. The iconic design of the original Biba bags has ensured that they are the most regularly found on eBay, but few of any other kind have slipped through the net.

I did, however, find a ‘Jean Varon’ bag on eBay very recently, which has now taken its place in my collection of weird and wonderful ephemera.

Simon has kindly allowed me to link to his photos from my blog. I know it’s hard to keep such things under control in this age of tumblr etc, but I would appreciate if you would also ask him if you would like to repost his images somewhere else. He has spent many hours scanning these photos, photos which (unlike magazine scans) would not be available otherwise – from anyone else. Thank you!

Unidentified (possibly Mr Freedom at the back?) © John Hendy

Selfridges © John Hendy

Mates by Irvine Sellars © John Hendy

Guys and Dolls and C&A © John Hendy

Unknown © John Hendy

Fancy That © John Hendy

Chelsea Girl © John Hendy

Crowthers © John Hendy

Just Looking © John Hendy

Kids in Gear © John Hendy

Take 6 © John Hendy

Countdown © John Hendy

Ravel © John Hendy

Unknown (Mantra?) © John Hendy

Strides © John Hendy

Stop the Shop © John Hendy

Laura Ashley © John Hendy

12 thoughts on “Bagged!

  1. Wow! I just LOVE this posting – it so reminds me of when I worked in Westminster but moved jobs, firstly Regent Street, then on Kings Road in 1977, just as punk was taking off. So many memories – thank you.

  2. Love the pics 🙂 always nice to see one of my favourite typefaces Cooper Black making an appearance on the Selfridges bag (and any reference to C&A makes me smile as I was referred to as “Man at C&A” a lot in my teens/20s)

    I remember a girl on Swap Shop sometime in the late 1970s who collected plastic bags and had a huge variety of them from all over the UK & even (gasp) abroad! I wonder if she’s still got any of them?

  3. What an amazing collection of photos! Looking forward to spending time going through the rest of his pictures on his site.

    Went to a National Trust property at the weekend which apparently has loads of different designs of Safeway carrier bags in it’s collection, sadly not on display!

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