You know how some people are shoe people? Yeah, I’m not one of them. I am unequivocally and irrevocably a handbag person. En route to becoming a ‘bag lady,’ no doubt, but I’ll wear this badge with honor.
I’ve mentioned before that part of the reason I keep this blog is to make me feel as though the stupid amount of time I spend researching unimportant things (plant pots, coffee mugs, eye creams, you name it) counts as a ‘hobby.’ This has never been truer (and more shameful) than recently, when I realized I
wanted needed a new handbag. My post-move collection is a pitiful lineup of old, worn finds, nothing that I actively chose to enter my closet. I needed (yes, need) something fresh and new to liven up my outfits, and in return, my confidence.
But, if you read my one of my recent posts, you’ll know our move to San Francisco has been pretty hard on our budgets. Particularly with me, as my freelance and blogging careers struggle to take off like I planned.
The result? I spent *insert a shameful number* hours trying to find handbags I could remotely afford, from big-name designers. When that didn’t work (because why would it?), my time was eaten away researching high-street knock-offs, hoping to find something. Anything.
And then, I finally stopped.
“What on Earth am I doing?” I chided myself. “Why am I so focused on trying to get either something overpriced because — what, because everyone else makes you think you want it — or something cheap?”
I’m sure we’ve all been there before. Trying to determine why we feel like we ‘must’ have something is a complicated, layered affair. Reinvigorated by my wake-up call, I decided to focus my energies instead on discovering new brands — many independent, up-and-coming or simply under-the-radar. Handbags made with quality materials, someone’s heart-and-soul business. Or just labels that everyone wasn’t coveting just because everyone else was, with picks I truly loved and could see working for seasons.
The end result? The affordable designer bag edit, all picks from under-the-radar designers that you should know about. WHEW. That was a long backstory. I’m tired, and rambling is fun.
I should say ‘affordable-ish,’ because what people find affordable really varies. Heck, I can’t really afford any of these right now. But, in another time, I will, and these are the bags that will be first in line for me to buy.
I’d love to know what you think about this kind of post. Is this useful to you? Do you like independent round-ups and edits? Or do you just like life updates? Any advice will help this poor ol’ blogger write useful things.
The Affordable Designer Bag Edit (from the Under-the-Radar Designers you need to know about)
If there were a category that was mine, well, this is it. A beautifully made cross-body (as most of these are) or shoulder bag is my jam, the sartorial equivalent of a good cup of coffee: smooth, classic, and just what you need to feel put together. I prefer mine with gold hardware and little details that scream quality. Nothing says this quite like Sancia, an Australian label that just knows how to make a gorgeous statement bag without being too statement. Plus, their Horseshoe detail is very Gucci Dionysis. I’m also desperate for the Future Glory Co Rockwell Mini (a little less practical than my usual picks) and the Elleme Bazoi: wonderfully understated, elevated with a delicate gold chain that looks both rich and everyday.
I have a confession: for one who is a definite ‘bag lady,’ I honestly don’t own that many handbags. But, if your classic handbag collection is already bursting — or if you’re looking for more of a statement piece — then it’s definitely worth it to consider something cult or unique. They’re often cult for a reason, aren’t they? The ones that have grabbed me the most are the Danse Lente Phoebe, anything by Yuzefi, and the Tara Zadeh Azar bag in brown suede (if you’re feeling brave, go for the mustard). I’m also loving the out-there shapes but beautiful designs by Mlouye: the Pandora bag is a dreamboat.
If you — like me — don’t have a lot of money to invest on a handbag, then you want your purchase to be timeless enough to last season after season. Minimal bags in classic, structured shapes are just the ticket. One of my favorite designers for this is The Stowe — purveyors of completely unadorned handbags in smooth supple leather. I could have put every last one of their delicious bags on this list. The A.P.C Half-moon and Nico Giani Adenia are my other loves: minimal enough to be a classic with an interesting shape giving it just a bit more edge.
Of all the bag categories here, I’m most attracted to the shape of a bucket. It somehow manages to look both polished and casual at the same time. Plus, roomy enough to fit all your essentials — including a camera, hello blogger priorities — buckets made the best travel bags. For something more unique and with longevity, I’m partial to the Staud Bisset (prefer the Bisset to the Moreau — which everyone and their Mom seem to own these days). Dagne Dover’s Ava bucket is the perfect slouchy-meets-structured pairing, with subtle gold detail making it a classic purchase.
While I don’t commute into the office like I used to, strangely, having a quality laptop bag has become even more essential for my daily life. I am constantly trekking from workspace to meeting to drinks, always and forever with my laptop in tow. For those of you in my shoes, you’ll understand the pure joy of a good work bag.
Lo & Sons do some incredible, there’s-a-pocket-for-everything travel and work bags; they are one of my favorite discoveries since moving to California. If your budget stretches, Senreve’s Maestra is quite close to perfect. Need a backpack? Look no further than Matt & Nat. Further clout: a friend of mine once told me that, after doing extensive research on backpacks, theirs was a clear winner in terms of shape, durability and price point. Sold.
What’s your favorite of my picks above? Any designers I’ve missed of this list? Particularly any sustainable designers — I’d love to hear who you love!