The green leather tote bag Alexandra Daddario’s character Rachel carried around on The White Lotus got so much screen time, it deserved billing in the opening credits. Our favorite tortured mediocre blogger was clutching onto that thing like it held the nuclear launch codes. Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya should have kept her mother’s ashes in there instead—they would have been safer. Wherever Rachel went—to the pool, to the facialist, even to meals—the bag was right there by her side. Citizen Kane cared less about Rosebud than Rachel did that green bag.
Even if the show didn’t make it explicit, you couldn’t help but wonder what the story behind the piece was. How did the struggling journalist come to get such a particular high-end bag? We assumed, of course, that the bag was paid for with her husband Shane’s money, but was it just a gift from Shane (likely picked out with his mother’s help) or did Rachel herself explicitly make the selection?
The brand alone is telling. It’s from the French leather goods house Goyard—famous, in part, for existing one year longer than Louis Vuitton. Goyard is almost singular among modern luxury houses for keeping an intentionally low profile. It doesn’t advertise. It keeps its marketing and PR efforts minimal. The brand doesn’t send free bags to celebrities or influencers (or the wardrobe departments of HBO shows, for that matter). They’re also one of the few remaining luxury brands that don’t sell online. The label simply leaves it to its signature chevron pattern to do all the branding heavy lifting. Coco Chanel was the one who said “Elegance is refusal,” but Goyard practices that principle best.
“We believe that whispering softly in someone’s ears is not only more elegant, but also much more efficient than screaming at the top of one’s lungs,” Goyard told Hypebeast in 2017 (yes, the quote was attributed to the brand writ large).
You could see how that kind of ethos would appeal to a character like Rachel. She’d reckon the bag wouldn’t signal her to be a status-chasing new-money woman, but would still serve as a secret message that she now has access to money (the bag itself is worth at least $2000). She carries that thing around the resort grounds like it’s a passport indicating she belongs there, lest she be found out as someone from a working-class background who churns out web content for $150 a pop. On the flip side, maybe she figured the bag wouldn’t rub that new status in the face of her parents, either.
(We also can’t help but note that there was a time, pre-Prince Harry, when Meghan Markle was spotted carrying a Goyard tote around like it was a security blanket—but the Rachel-Markle comparisons deserve a whole other think piece. So we’ll just leave it as a stray observation for now.)
Maybe Rachel’s Goyard was simply a gift from Shane’s family; for a few episodes, we considered that a real possibility. However, Shane and Kitty’s clothing tell a completely different story about luxury. Their clothes are nice, sure, but they’re not screaming “status symbol.” Many of Kitty’s resort dresses are actually from Lilly Pulitzer, the Palm Beach brand that has a certain heritage but doesn’t command four-figure price tags. There’s a huge difference between being a person who dresses to show off their wealth and being a rich person who happens to buy clothes. The Pattons’ wardrobes exemplify the latter. It’s Nicole Mossbacher, the unapologetically self-made millionaire, who carries around two Louis Vuitton carryalls in Damier check around the resort (albeit far more casually than Rachel clutches her own tote). Not Kitty. In all actuality, she’s the kind of mother-in-law who was more likely to gift Rachel a monogrammed Boat and Tote from L.L. Bean than a Goyard bag.
In her character’s climax, Rachel tearfully admits that she was wooed in large part by Shane’s money and the doors he opened for her that she would never have access to on her own. The little girl who wanted to be a princess won out against the young woman who wanted to make a name for herself as a hard-nosed journalist. In the end, she chose Shane, and we can only assume that she was the one who chose that designer tote bag for herself. She was carrying the answer to who she really wanted to be under her arm the entire time.