Hitting the runway for SS13, the bag was a fashion meme before fashion memes were really a thing
Last week, boxer Floyd Mayweather, who retired in 2009 with an undefeated record, posted a video on Instagram. This video is standard fare for the flex-happy Mayweather: in front of a table stacked with $1.8m in cash, he opens his Givenchy jacket to show off the sparkling jewellery (“today is a rose gold day, as you can see”) resting on a Comme des Garçons Play t-shirt, and speaks about the piles of money before him. “The $20 bills section… I like to call it wallpaper. $200,000 in 20s.”
Halfway through the video, though, things get interesting: Mayweather walks to a chair, and picks up a Chanel Spring Summer 2013 hula hoop bag. “This is the biggest Chanel bag in the world – I got this bag from Karl Lagerfeld, RIP, may he rest in peace,” he says, before offering a succinct character assessment of the designer. “Money-getting mother fucker like myself, always showing out, always talking shit.” 50 Cent, who has long beefed with Mayweather, was quick to mock the boxer’s acquisition (which, by the way, will set you back around £31,000 on high-end secondhand marketplace 1stdibs).
Measuring 2.5ft across, the bag appeared on the French house’s catwalk in October 2012, worn by a model in a swimsuit who paraded down a solar panel runway while specially-constructed wind turbines soared above. (But despite the renewable energy theme, this was not, apparently, an act of climate change awareness-raising). “It's for the beach,” the late Lagerfeld explained, one imagines in his deadpan drawl, post-show. “You need space for the beach towel. And then you can put it into the sand and hang things on it.”
The hula hoop bag, as it became known, went pretty viral for 2012 standards – Anderson Cooper discussed it on TV with Alexa Chung, and Jezebel even offered a DIY tutorial on how to make one of your own with matress protectors, duct tape, and spray paint. In many ways, it was a precursor to the Demna Gvasalia era of fashion for which the late 2010s will certainly be known, where DHL tees, Ikea style totes, and platform Crocs would appear on the runway and be swiftly meme-d. The Chanel hoop was never intended to actually be for sale (a smaller version was), but such was the power of the internet that a limited few did end up being put into production. Kris Jenner was papped trying one on in Selfridges on a trip to London in 2013, and it even made its street style debut at NYFW.
But why does Mayweather have one? This is a man for whom flexing is a way of life, whether standing on piles of cash or boasting about taking millions of dollars in watches on holiday with him. Still, a giant Chanel handbag doesn’t exactly fit the standard fare for what a professional boxer might brag about – Mayweather’s image is built not only on wealth but male strength; his 2017 out of retirement fight with Conor McGregor prompting op-eds about toxic hypermasculinity. It’s not clear whether this was a gift from Lagerfeld as the athlete implies (one was sold on 1stdibs, although when it doesn’t specify). But such is the power of Chanel, and of Karl Lagerfeld as an ultimate arbiter of taste, that Floyd Mayweather is happy to boast about owning a handbag.