Nothing outwardly reflects your "in the know" status in the fashion world quite like the handbag you carry. "It" bags have come and gone (and come back again) through the decades, but often the most desirable, hard to come by iterations are the products of a luxury European fashion house. (Think: Hermès Birkins, Chanel 2.55 and Boy bags, Louis Vuitton Speedys and the Balenciaga City bag, made super-popular in the 2000s by the Olsen twins and their young Hollywood counterparts.) While the same can be said for today's most popular handbags — Loewe's Puzzle bag and Gucci's Dionysus bag are editor favorites — more and more niche accessories labels are established each year and often boast lower price points or funky design details that buck current trends.
The world was hit with Mansur Gavriel fever when the minimalist label launched in 2012, with its signature, accessibly priced bucket bag launching wait lists of legendary proportions. More recently, Cult Gaia's Ark clutch — with a retail price that sits under $300 — took Instagram by storm, and you'd be hard-pressed to find an influencer, editor or generally chic woman with good taste who hasn't posted a photo carrying it this summer. But if you prefer to spend your hard-earned dollars on an item that's still relatively rare — or you have an aversion to wait lists and pre-orders — there are several up-and-coming handbag brands on the scene that have earned the attention of top buyers. Before you take the plunge on a new bag for fall, read on to get schooled on nine labels that might not be on your radar yet.
Founded in 2016 by Stephanie Park, a former designer in Alexander Wang's accessories department and graduate of the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, this Copenhagen-based label is steadily attracting attention thanks to its sophisticated simplicity. If you're a fan of Mansur Gavriel's minimalism or Céline's clean shapes in a variety of colors, this brand is likely right up your alley.
Aesther Ekme Sac Tote, $338, available at Farfetch.
If you're in the market for a very special, very expensive evening piece, look no further than luxury label Bienen-Davis. The heritage handbag brand is relaunching for Fall 2017 with Creative Director Meredith German at the helm, and pieces from the former Reed Krakoff and Marc Jacobs designer will reportedly retail for between $1,295 and $3,995 and appeal to a younger generation. The first collection doesn't drop until September, but in the meantime, you can hunt for a vintage bag from the house that was originally founded in 1931 (and closed in 1976).
Danse Lente, which means "slow dance" in French, is a London-based brand that, according to its website, "focuses on high quality leather goods inspired by contemporary aesthetics and modern architecture." The debut collection quickly sold out — its impressive list of stockists includes Moda Operandi, Net-A-Porter, Fivestory, Lane Crawford and Selfridges — and the angular bags in a mix of rich colors already have a following among the street style set.
Danse Lente Phoebe leather shoulder bag, $455, available soon at Net-A-Porter.
This more accessibly priced label was founded in 2015 by Ilona Gerasimov and Lena Vasilenko and its structural pieces are instantly recognizable on account of their hardware (metal hoop handles, grommet details), utilitarian straps and signature gold logo embossed on every bag.
Kozha Numbers Mini Safe bag, $295, available at Need Supply Co.
Designer Niccolò Giannini was the recipient of the 2017 Who Is On Next? Award presented by Altaroma in collaboration with Vogue Italia, and his geometric leather handbags — inspired by 1950s and 1960s interior design, as well as his own background in pattern making — are (relatively) modestly priced and available in a rainbow of bold colors.
Nico Giani Adenia medium leather bucket bag, now $337.50 , available at Bloomingdale's.
Everything that designer Virgil Abloh touches turns to gold — he was even called upon to breathe new life back into Ikea's classic blue Frakta tote bags — so it's not all that surprising that his handbags for Off-White were a quick hit among buyers, editors, Instagram stars and general "It" kids on the street after their debut on the Spring 2017 runway.
Off-White black diagonal binder clip bag, $1,035, available at Ssense.
Chitose Abe's ready-to-wear collections for Sacai are well-loved within fashion circles, and her debut range of handbags — released in January of this year with the help of designer Katie Hillier — takes her interpretation of the brand's message to the next level. "For a woman, a bag is such an important part of her identity, so I wanted to create a collection that is an authentic expression of luxury but that brings something new to what is already a very busy category," she said in a statement at launch. "A modern, playful version of true luxury."
Sacai horseshoe leather shoulder bag, $1,190, available at Net-A-Porter.
Senreve is a digital direct-to-consumer brand that aims to create Italian-made, luxury handbags with price points aligned with what millennials are able to spend. Founders Coral Chen Chung and Wendy Wen, who graduated from Wharton and Stanford, respectively, started their careers in finance, but were inspired to start the line when they couldn't find the perfect handbags to serve their busy, modern lifestyles.
Mini Maestra bag, $695, available at Senreve.
This brand, originally rooted in furniture design, combines quirky, statement-making shapes with bold color-blocking and shiny handles and hardware. It's only natural, then, that it's already a hit with style stars like Leandra Medine, Caroline de Maigret, Hanne Gaby Odiele and Miroslava Duma. If you're looking to invest in a piece that's photogenic, fun and well-designed, The Volon is a great place to start.
The Volon Data London shoulder bag, $920, available at Net-A-Porter.
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