What Is Ashley Olsen Hiding in That Infamous $39,000 Backpack?
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; saksfifthavenue.com
The Row Moulded Leather Backpack
Shop now: $2,850; saksfifthavenue.com
Matt & Nat 'Fabi' Faux Leather Laptop Backpack
Shop now: $185; nordstrom.com
Strathberry Leather Backpack
Shop now: $516 (Originally $645); nordstrom.com
Longchamp Le Foulonne Leather Backpack
Shop now: $575; nordstrom.com
Clare V. Marcelle Leather Backpack
Shop now: $425; nordstrom.com
Allsaints Small Kita Convertible Leather Backpack
Shop now: $378; nordstrom.com
Mansur Gavriel Mini Leather Backpack
Shop now: $675; nordstrom.com
Herschel Supply Co. Settlement Light Backpack
Shop now: $70; nordstrom.com
Adidas by Stella McCartney Gymsack Drawcord Technicak Backpack
Shop now: $103; matchesfashion.com
Adidas by Stella McCartney Gym Sack Canvas Shoulder Bag
Shop now: $170; matchesfashion.com
Prada Vela Nylon Backpack
Shop now: $1,049; matchesfashion.com
STATE Kane Coated Canvas Bag
Shop now: $120; shopbop.com
Caraa Cirrus Medium Backpack
Shop now: $250; shopbop.com
Tumi Voyageur Just in Case Travel Backpack
Shop now: $80; zappos.com