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Apologies to the purists, but sometimes the remix is better. That’s how I felt when I saw Pharrell Williams’ rework of the iconic Louis Vuitton Speedy bag, which just released online this week.

If you’re not familiar with Pharrell, I applaud your ability to live this long under a rock. But here’s the short version: he’s an inimitable producer and performer, wildly influential fashion trailblazer, and the person currently charged with leading the design efforts of one of the most influential and successful fashion houses in the world, Louis Vuitton.

If you’re not familiar with the Speedy, I’ll cut you some slack. But just a little. The Speedy is arguably the most important handbag of the last century. It was introduced to the market not as the “Speedy” but as the “Express” in 1930. Designed to hold your everyday essentials while remaining manageable and maneuverable, the Speedy quickly became an icon, with fans like Audrey Hepburn helping cement it in the firmament of 20thcentury fashion. Nowadays, it’s the bag that pretty much everyone who cares about fashion history—regardless of gender—would like to have in their collection.

But here’s the thing: For most of its tenure, the Speedy has been crafted in Vuitton’s signature coated canvas. It’s tough. Tactile. It looks like high-end leather from afar and only reveals itself as something different upon closer inspection. It doesn’t show wear. It will stand up admirably to any abuse you throw at it and still look impeccable.

keepall 50 vue de face et speedy 30 vue de 34 et plie en toile monogram photographie prise le 10 decembre 1968

Courtesy of Louis Vuitton

An archival shot of the Keepall 50 (left) and Speedy 30 (right and folded) from 1968.

That’s exactly why coated canvas is so beloved, in fact. It’s stout and sturdy and practically ageless. If you want something to look perfect for a very long time, it’s tough to beat. But then there are the folks who embrace imperfection. The guys who want something to slump and slouch and look, at the end of the day, less like the manicured photos that people post to Instagram and more like something that is entirely their own. And that’s where Pharrell’s Speedy comes in.

Crafted from supple, spongey leather, the newest take on the bag that defined a generation feels more approachable. It’s not for ladies who lunch; instead, it’s the bag you shove under your arm when you’re running late to work or rushing to the airport. It’s the one that you reach for time and again because it’s pliable and inviting and it’ll hold everything from your laptop to a weekend’s worth of clothes. And, let’s be real, it’s the one you’ll grab when you want to feel just a little cooler.

Ultimately, it’s the one that reminds you why we’re willing to spend the time and effort—and money—to shell out for luxury in the first place. Because, ultimately, it makes our lives that much easier…and that much more enjoyable.

This article appeared in the March 2024 issue of Esquire
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