She actually put it down on an NYC sidewalk.

By Tara Gonzalez
Updated May 18, 2020 @ 4:15 pm
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If I owned a $39,000 backpack, I don’t think I’d ever let her out of my sight. I’d also probably not be writing this sentence right now but off on a rich farm with thousands of lavender plants and cute goats like Gigi and Bella Hadid. I’m also pretty sure I’d never take this backpack on the subway or put it down on a NYC sidewalk, in fear of hurting her. But this weekend, Ashley Olsen re-wore the infamous $39,000 The Row backpack she designed with her sister outside of their NYC office, and she placed it down on the sidewalk in the midst of a global pandemic. But this isn’t about me or Ashley. This is about something bigger and more expensive. This is the story of a $39,000 backpack that defied all odds.

When The Row first released this $39,000 backpack people could barely believe it. Anderson Cooper deemed it ridiculous. But then Barneys’ Fashion Director Amanda Brooks infamously told Fashionista, “I think if you were ever going to spend $39,000 on a bag, that's the bag you should buy because I think you'd wear it for a really long time. There's enough design to make it interesting and beautiful but they truly are classic bags — and I think you also might be the only one who has it.” To be fair, she has a point in that if you buy a $39,000 backpack, chances are you’re never going to run into someone else with a $39,000 backpack.

According to Ashley Olsen, the bag does seem pretty functional and fits quite a bit. After placing the backpack down for a smoke break, Olsen picked the backpack back up and her laptop could be seen hanging out, with a cord attached to something else. Maybe it was her phone. Maybe it was nothing. There could be caviar in there for all we know. Or just Mary Kate’s belongings from The Row office she asked her sister to pick up amidst her emergency divorce battle. Or maybe there are three more laptops in there. Anything is possible. Maybe that’s the allure of a $39,000 backpack.

What’s also worth noting about this photo is that it was taken on a eighty-five degree day in New York City. Most people could be seen taking socially distanced walks with face masks and crop tops. Meanwhile, Ashley Olsen opted for a beanie, a floral scarf, and a long, thick jacket. She’s wearing layers. According to GQ writer Rachel Seville Tashjian, “Ashley Olsen has not showed us her bare arms since August 14, 2017.” But maybe that’s also the allure of a $39,000 backpack. It’s seasonless, even if you don’t seem to know what season it is. Or maybe it shields you from the elements and mortality, which would also explain why it would resurface in 2020.

While the backpack inspired a collaboration with Damien Hirst that retailed for $55,000 at boutique Just One Eye and also sold out immediately, The Row has not re-released either of its viral backpacks. It has also lowered the price of the backpacks it has made since. Two are available right now at Saks Fifth Avenue. One is notably missing a zero that would make it viral and costs just $3,900. Another costs just under $3k at $2,850.

But if you’d prefer not to spend an entire three years rent on a backpack that doesn’t also serve as shelter, black backpacks in general cost far less than $39,000. Even fancy designer backpacks only cost a couple of hundred dollars, which sounds like a steal in hindsight. And while owning a backpack that hasn’t gone viral for its limited qualities and ridiculous price tag does mean you’re more likely to run into someone that owns it, don’t forget the time we’re living in. You literally can’t run into anyone anymore.

Shop backpacks that are not $39,000 below.

The Row Leather Backpack


Shop now: $3,900;

The Row Moulded Leather Backpack


Shop now: $2,850;

Matt & Nat 'Fabi' Faux Leather Laptop Backpack


Shop now: $185;

Strathberry Leather Backpack


Shop now: $516 (Originally $645);

Longchamp Le Foulonne Leather Backpack


Shop now: $575;

Clare V. Marcelle Leather Backpack


Shop now: $425;

Allsaints Small Kita Convertible Leather Backpack


Shop now: $378;

Mansur Gavriel Mini Leather Backpack


Shop now: $675;

Herschel Supply Co. Settlement Light Backpack


Shop now: $70;

Adidas by Stella McCartney Gymsack Drawcord Technicak Backpack


Shop now: $103;

Adidas by Stella McCartney Gym Sack Canvas Shoulder Bag


Shop now: $170;

Prada Vela Nylon Backpack


Shop now: $1,049;

STATE Kane Coated Canvas Bag


Shop now: $120;

Caraa Cirrus Medium Backpack


Shop now: $250;

Tumi Voyageur Just in Case Travel Backpack


Shop now: $80;