When it comes to this season’s most popular bag silhouettes, form is favoured just as much – if not more – than function. Classic designs have shrunk for no apparent reason other than to make a statement, while textured hardback clutches in bold colours and materials bring a sense of playfulness to eveningwear. We’ve scoured the globe to bring back four key styles on the rise – and help elevate your wardrobe as summer draws to a close.
The micro bags
Recently we’ve seen designers take a sharp turn from oversized statement bags towards smaller styles. This often involves adapting a more traditional handbag style (such as the trapeze shape) to much smaller measurements.
New York label Mansur Gavriel, for example, has released “Mini” versions of its Italian-made designs (including bucket bags, totes and cross-handle bags) as well as “Mini Mini” versions, proving that size really does matter.
Parisian designer Simon Porte Jacquemus has taken the micro movement to new heights via his Le Chiquito suede design. Its teeny dimensions call into question its practicality as a bag; it can barely fit a credit card. Yet the Chiquito has won affection around the world, spotted on style icons like Rihanna, Priyanka Chopra and Kendall Jenner. Following the Chiquito’s popularity, Jacquemus has released two equally tiny styles in a range of colourways: Le Sac Minho and Le Petit Vanity.
Closer to home, Sydney’s Albus Lumen has delivered the Sensillo Mini Pouch Bag, which is designed to be worn around the wrist. The Sensillo, which favours quality of materials over quantity, is made from 100 per cent Napa leather with a silk lining and a gold-plated ring.
There’s no doubt Lucy Folk’s beaded Cocktail Clutch has proven to be an enduring style, with several iterations released each season. Made from hundreds of plastic beads threaded together to form a hard “shell”, this clutch has become a mainstay of the Lucy Folk label. And other Australian designers are following suit, with an increasing number favouring solid, playful styles.
The Sydney sisters behind jewellery labels Reliquia and Valet Studio launched a new line under the latter of 100 per cent resin clutches in December last year called Respiro Studios, as part of the Valet label. The boxy designs are just large enough to fit your essentials, and the colours are decidedly playful – choose from a pearlescent mint or pink glitter. For those who like to coordinate accessories, resin reappears across Valet Studio’s range of earrings and hairclips.
Recent years have seen a return to craftmanship, prompted by a growing demand for ethical production and natural fabrics. It’s a natural progression, then, that straw bags have become a leading style this year. The trend was largely sparked by Spanish fashion label Loewe’s basket bag, which is hand-woven from palm leaves and is available in mini, tote and large sizes.
California-based label Kayu delivers a comprehensive range of woven styles, each made in South-East Asia using local materials, most of which are 100 per cent biodegradable. The label’s Mini Lolita bag is a cylindrical style, made from woven seagrass with raffia fringe detailing. Jacquemus has also tackled raffia, merging it with the micro trend to deliver Le Petit Baci.
Lucy Folk has also worked with rattan wicker across a number of designs. For those with a sense of humour, her Dumbbell Shoulder Bag best encapsulates the designer’s signature playfulness – its three-dimensional dumbbell form hangs over the body via a leather shoulder strap.
The shopping bags
Merging practicality and minimalism, “shoppers” have become an essential piece in the modern wardrobe. They are, in essence, large open tote bags, beloved for their utility and especially suited for work, travel and market days. Styles range from simple canvas totes to luxury leather shoppers, like The Row’s $2,200 Park textured leather tote.
More recently, we’ve seen a move towards styles that look unreservedly like single-use retail shopping bags. The trend has been led by Balenciaga, whose $2,499 leather shopper is just that – a replica of the paper shopping bag given to customers in department stores. Acne Studios has put its own spin on the trend, with its patent leather tote based on the design of a paper grocery bag. The label’s Baker AP M tote takes the concept one step further, with the glossy PVC version bearing the image of a woman’s lips, pulled straight from the label’s magazine archives.
Sydney-based designer Poppy Lissiman has released a slouchy “Thank You” shopper modelled on the plastic bags found in knick-knack shops around Chinatown. This faux-leather version in pastel pink looks and feels like leather, and the lining mimics real suede.
But LA-based label Building Block takes the cake. Its Gift Bag features a coffee-dyed, waxed Japanese canvas body and a vegetable-tanned leather handle – strikingly similar to generic brown paper gift bags. The style is the product of a collaboration with Tokyo-based artist Kazumi Takigawa and retails for $195 USD at the label’s online store.