Frakta-ing the Market for Blue Bags

Does it rustle? Can you wash it with a hose? Did you pay $2,150 for it? Wait… one of these things is not like the others.

As a part of their Spring/Summer men’s runway show, French fashion house Balenciaga presented a large blue “shopper bag” that’s distinctly reminiscent of an entirely different level of shopping. A quick glance will demonstrate:

On the left, Balenciaga’s Carry Shopper L. On the right, Ikea’s big blue Frakta bag.

side-by-side images of two large blue bags with shoulder straps: one from Balenciaga, and one from Ikea.
Maybe embroidering “BALENCIAGA” on the leather handles would have driven the cost up too much? [composite: Balenciaga/Ikea]
The price difference? $2,149.01, not including various applicable taxes.


Cheekily, IKEA wasn’t about to let that slide… at least, not without a winking acknowledgement of the tribute obviously being paid. In just a few days, Ikea responded with tongue-in-cheek ads consisting of a multi-point checklist on how to identify “the original.”

image of an Ikea ad featuring their blue Frakta shopping bag and the text: "How to identify an original IKEA FRAKTA bag."
image: Acne/Ikea Creative Hub

How did we come to be blessed with such glorious snark? It’s all thanks to Swedish design firm Acne, which contacted IKEA with a proposal soon after Balenciaga’s bag was released. Johan Holmgren, creative director at Acne, told AdWeek:

“I wanted to act fast, so I called Morten Kjaer from Ikea Creative Hub. He loved the idea. The day after the Balenciaga bag was launched, I said, ‘We’ll have the creative work ready within two hours.’ We then went to one of our fashion photographers, Anders Kylberg, and shot the bag in his studio, with that same feeling and lighting as the Balenciaga bag. That same day, we sent the finished work to all markets.”

Print and social ads listed the following ways to identify an Ikea Frakta bag:

  1. Shake it. If it rustles, it’s the real deal.
  2. Multifunctional. It can carry hockey gear, bricks, and even water.
  3. Throw it in the dirt. A true Frakta is simply rinsed off with a garden hose when dirty.
  4. Fold it. Are you able to fold it to the size of a small purse? If the answer is yes, congratulations.
  5. Look inside. The original has an authentic Ikea tag.
  6. Price tag. Only $0.99.

It should be noted that the Balenciaga bag comes only in a shade called “bleu sulfate,” and it does have a zipper at the top. The zipper is a feature distinctly lacking on Ikea’s iconic reusable homegoods-hauler, but I’m not sure if Balenciaga’s bag also holds 19 gallons of laundry.

So if you want the original… now you know.

Beth Voigt

Beth is a graphic designer in Chicago, a superhero in her own mind, and absolutely nothing on TV. She wrangles fonts professionally, pummels code amateurishly, and has been known to shove fire in her face for fun. Fond of volunteering, late-night bursts of productivity, and making snacks, she dislikes grocery shopping and sticky public transit and is only on her second smartphone. Her opinion is that you should try everything twice; if you don't like it, you were probably doing it wrong the first time around. If external links are your thing, here are links to Twitter and Instagram, and you can support her ongoing weirdness by buying her a coffee or six.

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