By: Katie Sullivan
In a sea of flip-flops, plaid shorts and your typical array of gator gear popular with the 2007 SJI students, a new trend is sweeping the campus. This fresh phenomenon? Vera Bradley…everything. You name it; this highly coveted brand has it starting from its trademark purses to a range of beach towels, cosmetic bags, umbrellas and even golf gloves.
Characterized by charming patterns on its signature quilted fabric made with 1005 cotton, this current movement has seen a sudden rise in popularity since its first development in 1982. Co-founders and neighbors Barbara Baekgaard and Patricia Miller started Vera Bradley Designs Inc. while awaiting a flight in Atlanta. The two had simultaneously noticed a definite lack of feminine-looking luggage and wasted no time in correcting this situation.
Named after Baekgaard’s mother, the line is available in more than 3,000 gift, specialty and about a half a dozen Vera Bradley retail stores. The actually merchandise is generated in Fort Wayne, Indiana before it is shipped around the world. Within just a few weeks of starting their business, the two friends suceeded in creating a company which is now nationally and internationally known.
The distinctive colors of the line have also become a well-recognized. Walking on a warm, humid day on the University of Florida campus, one can easily see the trademark style and instantly recognize it as a Vera Bradley item. Capri blue, peacock, citrus, botanica and Nantucket navy make up a few of the unique colors of the line.
The brand even retires some of its colors, such as Bermuda blue, to add both a stronger value for the products as well as to create room for generating more designs. Designs usually have a life of 18 to 36 months, depending on their prestige.
In addition, Vera Bradley Designs Inc. contributes a portion of Vera Bradley’s net proceeds from anything in their pink elephant line in order to benefit the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer and other breast cancer projects and services. Since 1994, Vera Bradley has suceeded in raising over $4 million dollars for breast cancer research, only adding to the American company’s reputation.
Women from all ages have grown fond of the stylish brand as it has progressed into fashion. The line originally found popularity with older females with its more passive, simplistic designs that were reminiscent of a stereotypical “grandmother purse.” However, as Vera Bradley has grown, modern patterns reflect a younger look more marketable to the other generations. The merchandise has since found a home particularly with teenagers and preteen girls alike, who are invigorated by everything from the newer, brighter colors to the versatility of the goods.
“My favorite thing about Vera Bradley bags is the colors-colors make the bag,” reflects Vera Bradley fan Emily Nance, 17, who personally finds mesa red to be her favorite. “The sizes are helpful too. I can put so much stuff in one-it’s amazing.”
Owning at least 27 pieces of the Vera Bradley merchandise, she knows what she’s talking about. For the six days she attends the SJI camp, she chooses to carry all her materials in her large mesa red Vera Bradley tote. Finding that it can accommodate her pens, notebook, sweat shirt, cell phone, water bottle and the occasional snack, she values the usefulness of the bag while strolling around UF massive campus.
Fellow camper Jordan Moore, 16, also uses her Vera Bradley tote, this time in peacock, to cart around her various items as she makes the long walks from Beaty Towers to lectures, classes and Gator Corner.
“Besides the colors, I love the fact that all of the Vera Bradley products can be functional yet easily cleaned. Someone accidentally spilled salad dressing on my tote two weeks before this camp and it came out easily-I just threw it in the wash. Boom. Stain gone.”
Amanda Castro, 16, is rumored to go head over heels when she sees anything in the peacock design.
“Anytime you buy something that’s made by Vera Bradley, you find that it’s worth it. Compared to other popular brands, Vera Bradley is actually a lot cheaper! I could have bought a lower-priced bag but I’ve noticed that all my Vera Bradley stuff lasts longer-and they’re so beautiful! I’ve found that it pays for itself in the end.”
Vera Bradley merchandise is quite affordable compared to the Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacob and Chanel hand bags draped over the shoulders of their favorite celebrities. Prices are generally moderate, with the cheapest purse at $27, the “Katie,” to the most expensive at $115, the “Boxy tote.” A few other prices include an ipod case for $19, $250 for a fashionable rolling suitcase and a travel cosmetics bag at $48.
Despite the brand’s rising popularity, there are still numerous critics. Some complain about the trend becoming too widespread.
Shreya Murthy, age 16, is riled by the overwhelming prevalence of Vera Bradley merchandise she frequently spots.
“Vera Bradley’s are so common that I get really sick of them! They were cute at first, but now that everyone has them, they’re not unique or special anymore,” She sighs, “You feel like you surrounded by clones!”
Meaghan McGowan, age 17, agrees. “The bags can get really expensive and although they’re really nice, you can find one that similar for a better price.”
Vera Bradley’s vast reputation creates a problematic question between buying into the brand or surpassing it. Either way, you at least have one person to help you with that one-what do you think grandma?
No comments yet.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.