How Mombasa Bag Helped US Design Company Make Ksh10 Billion

  • The YSL Mombasa bag which sold out in the 2000s
    The YSL Mombasa bag which sold out in the 2000s.
  • In 2002, US-based fashion designer Tom Ford rose to prominence after one of his creatively-designed purses, the YSL Mombasa Bag, became the hot-selling accessory of the season.

    At the time, Ford served as the creative director of Yves Saint Laurent, a major fashion brand that was housed by the luxury behemoth, Gucci House.

    Designed with quality leather, the bag - which targets the feminine market, was designed with a hefty-horn handle and came in variety of designer.

    A writer at Vogue even described it as being 'delicious with quality leather, dangerous with a hefty horn handle, and comes in a classic shape.'

    The YSL Mombasa bag which sold out in the 2000s
    The YSL Mombasa bag which sold out in the 2000s.

    Valued at Ksh84,000 (USD700) at the time, and adjusted to today's inflation rate, only 60 pieces arrived in US and were sold out soon after.

    The company then asked for an additional 500 pieces but only received 420 bags which sold out as fast leading to the creation of a waiting list.

    A report by the New York Times at the time indicated that YSL did not have a firm accessories line by the time it joined the Gucci family of brands.

    "This was the first time he had succeeded with Saint Laurent, which had no accessories image when Gucci acquired the brand three years ago.

    "And now, thanks to one hot bag, accessories represent 26 percent of Saint Laurent's sales, about $90 million (Ksh10 billion) last year," reported NYT.

    The Mombasa bag was designed and named after Mombasa City along the Kenyan Coastline and sent the first 50 pieces to editors as part of its marketing strategy, which worked at the time.

    The bag came in different designs and could be slung by hand or carried by the shoulder depending on the wearer's experience.

    As of 2019, YSL was one of the most valuable luxury brands in worldwide with a net worth of Ksh435 billion (USD3.6 billion).

    US-based designer Tom Ford.
    US-based designer Tom Ford.