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Did Kate Spade Steal The Book-As-Purse Idea?

There’s a big brouhaha going on right now over handbags that resemble books. Kate Spade will sell bags (above left) that look like well-worn novels starting this fall, and according to Salon’s Broadsheet, the preppy apparel company has been called “a big fat copycat” by handbag designer Olympia Le-Tan, whose similar “book bags” (above right) debuted last fall. Did Kate Spade steal Olympia’s big idea? We doubt it.Olympia’s bags, mostly book-shaped clutches, feature covers embroidered to look like famous books, including The Catcher in the Rye, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and Moby Dick. While her bags have gotten quite a bit of press, Olympia didn’t invent the bag that looks like a book.

Several years ago, while working at another publication, I wrote about a company called Femme Sud, which offers book-shaped clutches, too. The covers on these tomes aren’t classics — well, unless you count The Bible, but instead have tongue-in-cheek titles, i.e., The Birds and the Bees, Yearbook, but Femme Sud didn’t originate the idea, either.

Do a quick Google search, and you’ll find a number of websites and Etsy shops offering bags fashioned from old books or instructions on how to make your own. Did all these people copy the concept, too?

My guess is that books have been transformed into purses since the ’60s or ’70s — I can totally imagine my mom making one when she was younger — and the idea has merely been revived. Do you think the designers at Kate Spade stole the idea?

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