In the 1990s, bags made with crinkled nylon could be seen in every classroom and airport. An adorable monkey, the mascot of Kipling, was a heartthrob of many and the brand itself was very popular for bags and accessories.

Started in 1987 by three friends in the heart of the fashion capital Antwerp (Belgium), the company was named after Rudyard Kipling, the author of The Jungle Book, and the monkey mascot was also inspired by the book. Also, monkeys represent fun and adventure, and seemed to fit the image of the company perfectly. The three wanted to create bag designs that were casual, vibrantly colorful bags, fun for women while being affordable, sporty, and functional.

Soon monkey keyrings became very popular. While every Kipling monkey is given the name of an employee of the company from around the world, a unique monkey emblem is given to every collection. The monkey has itself become a collector’s item for the fun-loving and young at heart!

Finding Its Footing

A few years after the brand started and became popular, it lost its way, getting stuck in a feminine and childish image. The world was changing too fast and it was unable to keep pace. It is slowly trying to regain its place in the world of fashion after losing its way for a while.

In 2003, the VF Corporation, makers of North Face and JanSport outdoor equipment, acquired Kipling, which had sales of about $69 million that year. At the time of acquisition, Kipling ran 17 stores in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Britain and distributed through 120 shops in Asia.

Since the acquisition, the company has been slowly returning in favor and changed its strategy. Its headquarters shifted to New York City though design and development still happen in Antwerp, Belgium. From providing high-quality backpacks it now offers a range of carryalls for different lifestyles. They are designed to be more stylish, colorful and fun without compromising on utility and durability.

Apart from North America, where Kipling brands were available since 1993, it is now available in 55 countries including in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, and South America. The bags and accessories are distributed through 436 stores in 80 countries and also 7,500 retail outlets.

The company proudly declares that 23 Kipling bags are sold every minute somewhere in the world; that it has more than 35 million customers; and that the number of people using Kipling bags is more than the population of Belgium.

Who Is the Target Market?

Kipling reinvented itself as a brand for the millennials. The decision on how to go about it was taken following the recommendations of a task force set up to revive the popularity of the brand after its acquisition. It tracked the vloggers and influencers whom millennials follow to understand their tastes and preferences. These understandings were culled and translated into a new vision to create designs that would appeal to the most happening generation.

Apart from the childish and feminine image that the new version had to break away from, Kipling also had several local, regional models. But to be a truly global brand, it has unified, standardized the designs with some local flavors.

It has also boosted its digital presence since millennials like to do everything online.

Kipling announced its re-entry as a serious contender in the accessories space in 2018/ 2019. It released its fall/ winter collection at an event in Antwerp and invited key influencers and members of the press from seven different European countries for a sneak preview. The new Kipling has maintained its connection to its roots by retaining the Jungle Book influence and crinkled nylon. The novelty is in the many pockets and zippers to organize the content in their bags better.

Kipling’s Popularity

Kipling bags have style and they are feature-rich. Some of the reasons for their bags popularity include:

  • Lightweight
  • Versatile
  • Choice of colors
  • Multiple compartments
  • Practical and functional
  • Value for money
  • Trendy and fashionable

Kipling is able to make lightweight bags due to the solid crinkled nylon that has been popular for decades. Its Lacquer Bags edition is made of 100% nylon with a TPU top coating, making it water repellent. Each bag has a lining of 100% polyester.

The materials also make it easy to clean the Kipling bags. All you need is a damp cloth though even a hand wash not only is safe but makes your bag look as good as new.

The name Kipling has been synonymous with quality and durability since the inception of the line. They have a wide range of products from handbags, backpacks to luggage and accessories and not just for women but for men as well.


What adds to the popularity of the Kipling bags is its pricing. Most of the ladies’ handbags cost less than $100. At this price, the users are not only assured durability and convenience but also a choice of colors and patterns. Despite regular use, they last for months, and with careful use, even years.

The many zippered compartments let you hold all the essential things when you are outside, right from the wallet to the mobile phone, keys, MP3 players, laptops and even documents such as passports and small cameras. The zips keep them secure when you are commuting or traveling.

Style and Function

Kipling, a fashion icon for accessories in the 1990s, has reinvented itself to cater to the tastes of the millennials. Started in 1987 by three women who wanted bags to be fun, stylish, and sporty, the brand got stuck with a childish and feminine image with time. Though it had a following across the globe, it was unable to leverage its brand value.

However, since being acquired in 2003 by VF Corporation, the designs have undergone a change. Now it has regained its popularity as a trendy, fashionable brand. The bags combine style with function, are aesthetically designed, durable but light and versatile, as they can be used for many purposes. Be it for school or work, the bag provides convenience and comfort.

Monkey accessories such as keychains and fobs also can be purchased if you are a fan of their monkey mascot. Kipling bags are also available online since that’s where millennials like to shop.

Now you can not only get a Kipling bag in even departmental stores across the world apart from retail outlets, but you can shop from anywhere in the world on the Kipling website (check if import duty applies if you are shopping from outside the US). Avail offers and discounts, get the latest look with a Kipling bag, and enjoy having your own Monkey Fob.

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