Bag wars as charity criticises 'profiteers'

IT'S been described as "the £5 It Bag". But with demand outstripping supply and fashionistas willing to part with £175 to get hold of one, the Anya Hindmarch tote, aimed at encouraging shoppers to re-use and recycle, and bearing the slogan "I'm not a plastic bag", has become exactly the sort of costly and exclusive item its designer was probably hoping to avoid.

The sale on eBay of the tote bags, a few of which were made available at London Fashion Week and which are due to go on sale online next week and in Sainsbury's from 25 April, has left a sour taste in the mouth of We Are What We Do, the non-profit organisation behind the collaboration with the celebrity handbag designer.

Despite warnings on the website, bags are being touted on eBay for prices of 40 and upwards. "It's extraordinary," said Eugenie Harvey, the co-founder of We Are What We Do. "You wouldn't buy a red nose and sell it and pocket the money. This is much the same thing.

"It's a shame because a lot of people have contributed to the project and there are people out there profiteering out of that. It's sad."

While the 5 itself won't go to charity - according to Ms Harvey it merely covers the cost of making the bag and the VAT - the bag is part of a growing trend by charities to sign up celebrities or offer an exclusive product that marks them out from the crowd, and helps raise awareness of their cause.

Chris Kiggell, spokesman for the Charity Commission, said: "There's more of a celebrity culture now.

I've seen charities using all sorts of celebs, from rock stars to sports stars to literary figures or even academics. They give access to areas the charity might not find its way into otherwise."

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