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Morgan Stanley’s Got A Brand New Bag — And An Influencer To Sell It

Influencer Haley Sacks, aka @MrsDowJones, is here to help Morgan Stanley and Rebecca Minkoff change your thinking about style on Wall Street.

Hey, remember those canvas duffel bags emblazoned with the names of Wall Street banks – the kind that screams “I’m making a heck of a lot of money for someone my age and I’ve still got time to work out?” No? Well, maybe that’s because you’re not a banker, and you’re not a dude on Wall Street.

The so-called banker bag has achieved such iconic status that it’s now eligible to be a symbol of not just prestige but privilege, the kind we want to do away with. Now, as the tote bag of choice for prep school reunions and first dates hits its 45th year (according to one alleged inventor or its 31st year, according to another), Morgan Stanley has made a disturbing discovery: Women don’t like them.

When Morgan Stanley CMO Alice Milligan surveyed women in finance about the bag, she discovered that fewer than 3% owned one and half felt it didn’t appeal to a diverse audience. (No word on how the men responded to this query from head office.) To be fair, Milligan wasn’t trying to get ahead of fall fashion trends but rather “look at different ways to symbolize change.”

And few things symbolize the opposite like a navy blue bro’ bag designed to fit size 12 shoes.

Who better to fix this problem than fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff, who credits the banker bag with inspiring her first-ever design? “It was 2005 when Sex and the City was the rage,” explains Minkoff. “My Morning After Bag was a satchel for women that said ‘I don’t need to be ashamed to stay out all night.’”

Of course, that may not be the message Morgan Stanley wants to convey in this post-pandemic era of work-life balance (presuming those women were up all night to finish that analyst report). One reason bank executives may be thinking about gender preferences and banker bags is the fact that bankers like Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman have been pushing for people to get back to the office. Banker bags are less of a necessity when working from one’s bedroom.

Milligan says the “Rebecca Minkoff X Morgan Stanley Banker Bag 2.0” – which will debut today at Minkoff’s fashion show in New York – is designed to be “classy and elegant,” evoking “pride and belonging” in an institution that’s “not your dad’s Wall Street.” Produced with responsibly sourced olive tanned leather that has a “Declare Red-List Free” label, this isn’t just a place to toss papers and free protein bars but a symbol “of our efforts to drive meaningful change within the walls of our firm and beyond.”

In a nod to how Gen Z is often motivated to buy, Morgan Stanley is also launching its first influencer campaign around the bag. It’s teaming up with Haley Sacks – that’s @MrsDowJones to you – a “financial pop star” who’s compared ETFs and mutual funds to Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton. (See interview above.)

The partners plan to only produce about 500 of these bags, which will go on sale in January. While the cost is not yet disclosed, it’s fair to assume the price tag will be higher than the $33.75 that Morgan Stanley charges for a banker bag in its company store. While banks used to give away these bags to new associates, many now charge and donate the proceeds to charity. Like Ivy League t-shirts, they’re also available to lay people who simply wish they had a job at Morgan Stanley.

In fact, on an existential level, what is a Wall Street banker bag in a world where finance is global and Morgan Stanley overlooks Times Square?

Minkoff, for one, is not here to create the female equivalent of a marginally useful piece of corporate swag. This is a fashion statement that’s not bound by any bank. Ever the consummate marketer, she calls it “the new midtown bag for the downtown woman.”

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