By Alison Syrett Cleary
Updated Aug 12, 2016 @ 1:00 pm
Bamboo Bag - Cult Gaia
Credit: cultgaia/instagram

The coolest bag to carry this summer is not what you’d expect. It is crafted from neither leather nor fabric; it costs no more than a week's worth of groceries. A giant design house didn’t create it, and it has not been advertised in a single magazine. In fact, the bulk of its buzz comes straight from Instagram. Take a peek below—if you’ve been checking your account this summer, chances are you've spotted a similar shot.

Dubbed the “Ark Bag,” this bamboo carryall from L.A.-based brand Cult Gaia has been trending hard for the last few months, making the rounds from It-blogger #OOTDs (Chriselle Lim of The Chriselle Factor and fashion illustrator/street style darling Jenny Walton are both fans), to celebrity sightings (including Jessica Alba), to the kind of beautiful native advertising you don’t feel lame about hearting. You can’t make it through a full scroll these days without seeing the style pop up—which is kind of ironic considering how hard it is to find one IRL.

"We are 100-percent sold out," the label’s founder Jasmin Larian tells us over the phone. "We can not keep these bags in stock!" (Set your calendar alert now: A new shipment is expected to land by early October.) Meanwhile the designer has been fielding massive orders all season from a roster of e-tailers—Moda Operandi, FiveStory, and Saint Cloud to name a few—that reads like coolest of cool girl’s personal bookmarks tab.

Although Larian had no way of anticipating the social media frenzy this carefree top handle creation would set forth on fashion land, she always knew the design was worth sharing. "My inspiration came from this vintage bamboo bag I found, and I was like 'This needs to exist in the world!' So I began researching the right way to reproduce it, which was a whole process in and of itself. The weaving on the bamboo is really technical." All that hard work and conviction, however, started to pay off when a few digital influencers endorsed the finished piece. “Once a lot of bloggers started wearing it, my friend Claire [Distenfeld], ordered the style for her store FiveStory, and New York’s social circle began to take interest, I think that’s when things started to heat up—and,” she adds with a laugh, “the under-$100 price point helps!”

So does the fact that there’s not a similar option on the market right now. “Our brand really focuses on creating things that stand out and attention-grabbing—be it this bag or handmade sarongs or head scarves cut from dead stock silk—so people will want to take a picture of it. I think the piece really lends itself to the Instagram generation, where everyone wants something unique to capture in an image, something that will make waves across their social network.”

And can we expect any new sensations to hit our feeds soon? “We’ve got a new exciting bamboo bag in the pipeline,” Jasmin coyly promises. “But I’m always going to be more focused on one-of-kind, standout pieces than a full line. If no one is going to stop you in the street and be like, ‘Oh my god, where did you get that?’ then I’m not interested in making it.”