Rebecca Minkoff didn't invent the crossbody bag, but there's no denying her role in redefining its relevance.
There's evidence that the hands-free accessory has been around for more than a century — dating as far back as the 1860s to one of America's historical institutions, the Pony Express. Now, more than 150 years later, the crossbody is a fashion staple, with designers like Minkoff turning the classic, utilitarian silhouette into this season's must-have It-bag.
Minkoff and the crossbody bag go way back. The NYC-based designer credits the style with launching her career in the mid-aughts, after the release of her first bags: the Morning After Bag and its street style-ready followups, the Morning After Clutch (M.A.C.) Crossbody and Mini M.A.C. Crossbody. Originally, the Morning After Bag was created as a favor for a friend shooting a film role, and that initial gesture helped to turn Rebecca Minkoff into one of fashion's buzziest brands almost overnight.
Minkoff admits that, though she "had no idea what [she] was doing" while designing that first bag, the popularity of the crossbody version in particular came as no surprise. "Women today are out and about, always on the go and on their feet," she says. "As a designer, it's my job to give women what they need for that lifestyle, and a crossbody bag does that. Her hands are free to do whatever she needs — take calls, text, Snapchat, hold coffee, run, anything." She's also keen on giving her individual customers exactly what they want: Many of Minkoff's crossbody bags are customizable, featuring adjustable and/or removable straps so they can also be worn on the shoulder or as clutches, depending on the occasion.
Designing for women with real, busy lives ("girls on the go," in her own words) has been Minkoff's first priority since the very beginning. She was quick to recognize the value of bloggers, social media stars and street style regulars, forming meaningful relationships with them and their followers long before they were sitting front row at fashion week. "I learned that bloggers and their followers were exactly who my customers were, so I started a dialogue with them and responded to their followers' comments," she explains. "The direct feedback I got was invaluable. So it all became a very organic collaboration."
Still, you'd be hard-pressed to find a girl more "on the go" than Minkoff, herself — which is why she rarely leaves the house without a crossbody bag of her own design. "I need to be easily able to hop on a last-minute call or hold hands with my kids while walking them to school," says the busy mom of two. "If I'm not working, I'm mama-ing, and if I'm not mama-ing, I'm working. Me-time is hard to come by, so it's very important that I have a bag that works for both day and night."
It's that versatility that keeps Minkoff (and her ever-growing base of customers) coming back to the crossbody style season after season. This time, she's updated her now-classic Mini M.A.C. Crossbody with plenty of new color and material options (Minkoff's personal favorite is the port version in luxe yet lightweight pebbled leather). She's also introduced two new bags: The Mini Sofia Crossbody, a super-cute (and convenient) structured camera bag with a zipper closure and color coordinated tassels, and the Western Crossbody, a wild west-inspired pouch with trendy fringe and antique-style silver medallions for some serious vintage flair.
"The crossbody represents what [my brand is] all about: listening to women and giving them what they need to live a fearless life," says Minkoff. "I make them in so many sizes, too, since every woman has a number of essentials that she wants with her day in and day out."
So, what essentials are in Minkoff's crossbody? "Honest Beauty balm, hand sanitizer, a metro card, my credit cards and ID, my Blackberry, and my iPhone — yes, I have both," she says. Hey, when success calls, you better have a phone free. Or at the very least, your hands.
Check out more of Rebecca Minkoff's signature crossbody styles here.