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Maria's Little Leather Backpack

I made the switch from shoulder bags and never looked back.
Khoi Le White Mini Collegiate Backpack, $420, available at Khoi Le.

Khoi Le White Mini Collegiate Backpack, $420, available at Khoi Le.

My first full-time job was assisting a high-end fashion designer who never, ever wore a crossbody bag or tote. Instead, she opted for backpacks. Soon, I discovered just how liberating, convenient and comfortable it is to walk around with a straight back and without my hand constantly affixed to a shoulder strap.

I discovered Khoi Le's Mini Collegiate Backpack last spring when the zipper of my last backpack, a fast-fashion buy, decided to stop functioning. With only a few minutes before my workout class, I found myself in front of Soho-based boutique American Two Shot, where I immediately found a lush leather backpack by Khoi Le in a just-right size to fit my daily belongings. I grabbed it and brought it to the register — without even thinking to check the price tag.

Yes, the price is steep compared to my usual backpack finds, but Khoi Le's handmade and durable design can outlast the timespan of my previous purchases combined. With the situation at hand, I justified this investment as "meant to be," along with the sales associate's guarantee that Mr. Le himself will provide any repairs if needed in the future.

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While my own Khoi Le backpack is in black with silver hardware, I can see myself making the switch to this white-with-black-trim version for fall. It would add a bright pop to my wardrobe's dark color palette and I'd personalize the front pocket with a few quirky pins à la Coach's street-style-worthy racer jacket. Who still follows the "No White After Labor Day" rule anyway?

Khoi Le White Mini Collegiate Backpack, $420, available at Khoi Le.

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