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Panera's New BAGuette (Published in SCAD Manor)

If you love traditional baguette-shaped purses, then you’ll love Panera’s new purse that’s designed to hold baguettes. This month, Panera released a new designer bag, dubbed “The BAGuette,” in honor of their new line of sandwiches. This fashion and food crossover came just in time for New York Fashion Week, as pre-sales began for the bags right before the event as well as a challenge for MyPanera rewards members to win a bag.

The bag perfectly aligns with their branding, sporting embossed “P”s with their signature shade of yellow-green and a gold P buckle on the front. The bag is considered a spoof on the Fendi logo branding, hence its soaring popularity. It’s also a potential start of a trend of elevated lunch boxes that look like purses but have an insulated interior. This camp idea exaggerates the adolescent school lunch box concept and makes it high fashion for adults. Yet, this is not the first time a designer lunch box concept has been released. Other brands, like Kate Spade, Botkier Lennox, Anthropologie, and Modern Picnic, have released similar concepts. The brand “Tyvek” even released a lunch box that looks like a paper bag but is just a brown, wrinkled synthetic fabric with an insulated interior. These brands are already reviving the inner child of many working adults, so what makes Panera’s new release of “The BAGuette” so special?

The release of the bag leaves much to be questioned about the future of fast food companies and fashion crossovers. What stands out, particularly about the Panera BAGuette’s rise to fame, is that it implies the beginning of other restaurant chains delving into the fashion industry. The expansion of Panera’s business range could end with this idea of a purse or expand into other markets. In the summer of 2021, they attempted to release a less-popularly known swim line that marketed swim trunks and an unflattering green one-piece bathing suit with the word “SOUP” emblazoned on the front. This marketing tactic was intended to popularize hot soups during the summer months, but the campaign fell short. It can be seen as a vain attempt to match Forever 21’s “I LOVE TACOS” graphic tee style.

McDonald’s has done something similar in terms of collaborative efforts with other designer brands. At Moschino’s Fall 2014 runway show, they released a line of Mcdonald’s logo-inspired purses and had their models dress in Mcdonald’s employee attire to present the bag. Although Mcdonald’s has had other collaborators make purses that resemble french fries, burgers, and their mascots, they have yet to release their own line of purses exclusively. The Moschino McDonald’s purse was also $1,050, which is not the targeted demographic of Panera’s “BAGuette” purse buyers, as the price of their bag is $39.50. Despite their cost-effective intentions, after pre-sales sold out, the bag is now being resold on eBay for hundreds of dollars. Panera’s attempt to enter these high-end designer markets is being done to widen its customer range. Panera is already marketed as an upscale fast-food restaurant, so this idea of a designer purse was not intended to be outrageous to their customers. The humorous concept of the bag is acknowledged, but it is not humorous in what they expect their affluent customer base to purchase. According to Panera’s 2023 SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis, their target consumer demographic is affluent millennials ranging from 25 to 44 years old. A $39.50 bag that rejoices in this demographic’s childhood lunch box has a chic Fendi-dupe exterior and has the playful camp concept of storing baguettes, achieving Panera’s marketing tactic. Will this bag’s successful release mark the beginning of other food chains releasing bags to hold their menu items?

Words by Megan Mullen.

Graphic by Daisy Rankin.


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