When you hear "imitation designer handbag," you probably envision a cheaper, yet passable version of the real thing.

Now flip that concept in reverse. I'm talking about a designer ripping off an inexpensive bag. That's exactly what happened to Ikea.

The bag in question? Ikea's 99-cent FRAKTA shopping tote. You know the one. It's that giant crinkly blue workhorse bag with heavy-duty handles, perfect for toting your dirty clothes to the laundromat. What's more, you can just smash it up and stuff it under your sink to store it. Easy to clean, too. Be you a college student, apartment dweller or soccer mom, this is the tote for you.

Is this Ikea item iconic enough to mimic? Apparently so.

French luxury fashion designer Balenciaga released a bag that looks strikingly similar to the FRAKTA. The color, shape, and design of the fancy-pants Arena Extra-Large Shopper Tote Bag mimics Ikea's no-frills bag.

There are two key differences, however. Balenciaga's luxurious tote is made from wrinkled, glazed leather--maybe not the best vessel for your dirty socks or soccer cleats. And with its much higher price point, this is certainly not a tote for the masses. This luxury Ikea-rip off will run you $2,145. Remember, this is from a designer that "integrates subversive and experimental designs with iconic house codes." (That's Balenciaga's own language.)

Ikea could have responded in a number of ways. This goes completely against their mantra of creating a better everyday life for many people. They decided to have some fun with it. Ikea quickly whipped up a print ad to help confused shoppers tell the difference between the original and copycat tote.

Here's the ad copy:

How to identify an original 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.

The ad was created by Ikea's agency, Acne. It took the team less than a day from concept to execution, according to AdWeek. Johan Holmgren, Acne's creative director, told AdWeek he wanted to act fast. The day after the luxury bag was released, he called Ikea Creative Hub creative director, Morten Kjaer. "I said, 'We'll have the creative work ready within two hours.'" They shot the bag, wrote the copy, and laid out the ad in under a day.

An Ikea spokesperson told Today they were flattered to see Balenciaga's take on their tote. "Nothing beats the versatility of a great big blue bag!" the spokesperson said.

Published on: Apr 27, 2017