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Why Ziploc bags might be the freshest find in festival fashion this season

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Fresh festival fashion finds from the Beams Couture X Ziploc collaboration include a fanny pack ($140) from left, a back pack ($180) and a tote ($150).
(Beams Couture)

A Japanese lifestyle label’s fashion collaboration with Ziploc — yes, the resealable plastic-bag brand that has been a household staple for more than half a century — will be available in the U.S. starting Monday exclusively at Fred Segal in West Hollywood, and, as silly as such a partnership sounds (and, let’s face it, it sounds really silly), it’s worth checking out for two reasons.

First is the nine-piece Beams Couture X Ziploc collection itself, which uses deconstructed plastic bags (we’re guessing the one-gallon freezer-storage Ziplocs) cut and hand-sewn into trucker-style hats, fanny packs, backpacks, tote bags, shoulder bags, pouches, aprons, umbrellas and sun visors.

While you’re catching your post-guffaw breath, we’ll point out that this is hardly the first time the pedestrian plastic sack has been given a fashion makeover. Memorable examples include Balenciaga’s $1,990 version of Ikea’s $1.49 blue tote (which turned up on the spring and summer 2017 men’s runway); Private Policy’s car coat fashioned from old-school white-and-red plastic “Thank You” convenience store bags (in a spring and summer 2018 collection); and baggage-tagged clear plastic duty-free bags from Maison Margiela’s harried jetsetter collection (also from spring and summer 2018).

The Beams Couture X Ziploc limited-edition collection, which retails from $20 (for a pouch) to $180 (for a backpack), will remain at Fred Segal through the end of April. Pieces will be available for purchase while supplies last.

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Part sporty, part street and all kitsch, this capsule collection keys into the prevailing preference for outsized logos – thanks to the prominent milky-white Ziploc logo and uses the signature pink and blue closure strip to delightful effect; on the tote bags and aprons, it functions as a stripe detail; on the visor, it resembles contrast taping; and on backpacks, it highlights zipper closures.

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The collaboration between Japan's Beams Couture and Ziploc, which repurposes the S.C. Johnson brand's plastic bags into visors, fanny packs, totes, aprons and caps, will be on display at Fred Segal's West Hollywood flagship through the end of April.

Although transparency might be a fashion liability in, say, a pair of pants or a halter top, when it comes to tote bags, fanny packs and backpacks, it actually kind of makes sense, especially given the clear-bag policies put in place by sports leagues such as the NFL or for employees of major retailers. And, looking ahead to the desert music-festival season, which gets under way April 12 with the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, going clear can only help when it comes to the security-screening bag checks. (The totally transparent sun visor remains a head-scratcher, though.)

Second is that the partnership will introduce the Beams brand to U.S. consumers in a whole new way. Founded as a single American lifestyle shop in Tokyo’s Harajuku district in 1976, Beams has since expanded to include 150 multi-brand shops across Asia as well as a stable of about 30 private-label brands, in much the same way the Fred Segal brand here grew from a retail concept into a California-exporting lifestyle brand.

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Although Beams products have been carried by U.S. retailers for years (an early stateside stockist was the now-shuttered Fred Segal center in Santa Monica), this marks the first time Beams has had a dedicated physical retail presence here.

The footprint of the space just inside the Fred Segal flagship in West Hollywood may be barely bigger than a freight elevator’s, it speaks volumes about the brand, thanks to its cheeky tennis-meets-fresh-food theme; lemons have been peeled to resemble tennis balls (and tucked into fanny packs and tote bags); a frying pan has been strung like a tennis racket; and hundreds of ribbons have been hand-tied to resemble either a tennis-court net (white) or Fred Segal’s iconic ivy-covered walls (green).

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Images from the collaboration's advertising campaign hint at the Beams Couture approach to retail.
(Beams Couture)

“The ribbons all come from the Beams Couture universe,” Beam’s international project manager Kana Kinoshita explained during a tour of the space. “It’s always about hand-making and tying ribbons and sewing.”

Kinoshita said Beams Couture, one of the newer sub-brands, was the brainchild of designer Romi Mizukami, who wanted to find a way to up-cycle and repurpose deadstock merchandise. Other collaborative partners have included Fila, Hello Kitty and bag-maker Eastpak. Kinoshita added the Ziploc collaboration marks the first time Beams Couture product will be available in the U.S. (This collaboration, while new to the U.S. market, actually launched in Japan back in August 2018 — which may be the best testament yet to a Ziploc’s ability to keep things fresh.)

If you’re hankering for fashion-forward Ziploc bags just can’t wait, be on the lookout for one of the advertising campaign posters scattered around Los Angeles. As part of a marketing campaign with Google Translate, the app can be used to unlock early access to select pieces.

Beams Couture X Ziploc at Fred Segal Sunset, 8500 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, April 8 to 30, 2019.

adam.tschorn@latimes.com

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For more musings on all things fashion and style, follow me at @ARTschorn


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