Play Purse

December 20, 2015
Play Purse

Play Purse began its life as ‘no. 5’ in an ongoing project called Item No. The purses quickly gained popularity and took on a life of their own, so the London-based designer behind the collection introduced Play Purse as its own standalone brand.

Inspired by those little beaded toy purses we all had when we were little, the collection is steeped in nostalgia, prompting an emotive response from customers and followers of the brand. Everyone has their own story of their own purse, whether it was playing dress up with it or, like me (and many others I was pleased to discover), nibbling the beads off it.

Nostalgia has become common currency in fashion and popular culture of late but Play Purse has managed to tap into something that, as yet, hadn’t been revisited. Yes, the 90s were cool and the 70s were glam but these little purses represent the sweet naivety of our childhoods; an avenue yet to be explored in any significant way. The message isn’t ironic or tongue in cheek, it’s about appreciating that touch of novelty which has been worn away as kids’ toys and fashion has become more sophisticated and less charmingly simple.

When my purple Play Purse arrived in the post, I squealed with delight at those familiar little beads, the feel of the fabric and the extra-cute addition of a free toy inside. Designed in grown-up size, it’s a scaled-up version of the original; large enough to hold your phone, purse, keys and lipstick. It’s dressing up for the real world.

Play Purse didn’t happen on a whim. It’s the result of several years of research and amassing a substantial original collection via the likes of eBay and Etsy. The time frame from conception to finished article was 18 months – a mould had to be created for the distinctive oval shaped beads and the fabric was particularly difficult to source having fallen out of favour since the 70s. This dedication to authenticity shines through in every detail and is certainly responsible for the acute feeling of sentimentality I experienced (and the over-excited screech I emitted) when I tore open the packaging.

With mini purses and dolly bag versions now available, and with colourways quickly selling out, it looks like it’s been a warmly welcomed comeback for these childhood favourites. Whilst butterfly clips, diamante detailed frameless sunglasses and other such questionable accessory choices can stay well buried in the past, I’m happy to bring the Play Purse forward with me into my present day wardrobe. Of course, it went perfectly with paper sweet bag-esque dress but I’ll also be wearing it to add a little whimsy to more grown up ensembles. And I promise I won’t nibble any of the beads off this time round…

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