was originally published on
What exactly makes an ‘It’ bag? Is a cult carryall a piece that possesses classic features and fabrics, or does its must-have nature lie in its ability to capture the zeitgeist? And is it the brand that makes it that way, or is it the person who carries it?
‘It’ bags certainly don’t have to be functional — just look at
1995’s Lady Dior, a gift from France’s then first lady Bernadette Chirac to Princess Diana, which didn’t hold more than the bare essentials. But in recent years, several brands have produced coveted and practical bags that have quickly made their way from the runway to the arms of street stylers to fast-fashion imitations: Phoebe Philo’s structured Céline Luggage Tote caught the attention of everyone from dedicated Philophiles to Kim Kardashian, while Gucci’s Marmont comes in all shapes and sizes — from top-handled to chain-laden shoulder-strapped to the belt bag — has defined the season.
To find out what truly defines an It bag, we quizzed five of
the brands of the moment. From what makes a timeless piece to the styles you should invest in this season, we’re breaking down the method to the It bag madness. Who knows, one of these could be a future classic.
is the creation of Sarah Staudinger, former fashion director at Reformation, and her partner George Augusto. With clientele including Alexa Chung and Leandra Medine, the brand injects downtown L.A. vibes into its vintage-inspired pieces. Staud
How would you describe Staud’s approach to handbags? “We believe in the idea that women today don’t just want one bag for the season anymore. The Staud customer wants multiple bags a season, and to be able to change her bags with her outfits. We don’t want her to have to choose just one, so we keep our prices low and our designs timeless.”
In your opinion, what makes an ‘It’ bag? “A unique design detail and something that can be worn diversely — day to night, a business meeting, a music festival. Anywhere she goes, it works.”
How does a brand make a timeless classic? “A design that withstands trends. One you can’t place in a decade by looking at it. It’s elegant in shape and just practical enough.”
What shapes, textures, and colors are you most excited for this season? “Patent, PVC, and the color purple.”
Which of your hero pieces should we should add to our wish list? “ The Shirley tote bag is my new favorite style, you basically get two bags in one. I take out the inner pouch and use it as a clutch from time to time — it makes day to night bag switches so easy.” Staud, $210, available at Staud
Most recognizable for its oversized pilgrim-esque buckle,
, the New York-born brainchild of Jesse Dorsey and Wannasiri Kong, is a favorite of fashion editors and street style stars. BOYY
How would you describe the BOYY’s approach to handbags? “Our approach has always been that a woman’s handbag should have a masculine edge and plenty of paradox.”
In your opinion, what makes an ‘It’ bag? “It’s a style/design that somehow has the power to leave an undying memory, which then breeds desire.”
How does a brand make a timeless classic? “With incredible patience, blood, love, sweat, and tears.”
What shapes, textures, and colors are you most excited for this season? “We’re really having fun with our newest “ YEUXLET ” collection of both shoes and bags, using primary shapes and colors, blurring the line between object and accessory. Also, our ‘toys’ series, which features wood rings and buckles, is a direct ode to the boundless fun and joy of raising our first child, who was a year old at the time of design.”
Which of your hero pieces should we should add to our wish list? “ Our spring ‘color block’ series; they’re like an accessory cocktail of Miró and Mondrian — on the rocks.” Boyy, $1035, available at Boyy
was founded by Elza Wandler, whose background lies in men’s accessories. The Wandler trapeze-shaped Hortensia has become a permanent fixture of our Instagram feeds, and for good reason.
How would you describe Wandler’s approach to handbags? “With each bag, I try to challenge myself and play with finding an equal balance of feminine and clean-androgynous. Directional, clear in shape and function, and a dynamic use of colors lead throughout my collections.”
In your opinion, what makes an ‘It’ bag? “Unique outspoken shapes and/or colors.”
How does a brand make a timeless classic? “I can’t give the correct answer to this. Your goal is to make a classic with a design that can live forever, but you can only know if you achieved this after several years. I guess timeless pieces always have a certain simpleness in their design.”
What shapes, textures, and colors are you most excited for this season? “For spring 2018, I have some really cool printed croc leather in colors like a soft pink and a sage (ocean green). For pre-fall, I have some crazy textures in shiny goat leather.”
Which of your hero pieces should we should add to our wish list? “The Hortensia bag medium in orange.” Wandler, $800, available at Wander
(which means “slow dance” in French) is Youngwon Kim’s London-based brand that brings together experimental features and classic shapes, making for thoroughly modern accessories. Danse Lente
How would you describe Danse Lente’s approach to handbags? “From a design point of view, I usually focus on creating the impression of being different by twisting some familiar details of what we already know in handbags. Technically, we have worked very hard to develop a new approach to hardware and have tried to bring some strong contrast in colorblocking. An overarching focus remains to ensure we provide quality at an affordable price point for our consumers.”
In your opinion, what makes an ‘It’ bag? “It’s difficult to describe because it’s so personalized to the individual’s style. However, I believe that an ‘It’ bag is something that’s timeless but with an edge, be it in the shape, color, or materials.”
How does a brand make a timeless classic? “It has more to do with instinct. Basically, I make mock-up samples and go through the process of reflection and modification in my own ways. In doing that, it filters out and leaves the essence of good lines and details that are less likely to get tired. I suppose that enables me to get a step closer to creating a timeless design.”
What shapes, textures, and colors are you most excited for this season? “ We introduced shearling for pre-fall ’18, which is really exciting; it’s a new material that we haven’t used before and it adds a great texture to the bags. Our color palette focuses on emerald green, blush pink, dark navy, okra, and varying shades of tan.”
Which of your hero pieces should we should add to our wish list? “It’s really difficult for me to select just one, but I love the new pre-fall styles, Bobbi and Margot!” Danse Lente, $455, available at Danse Lente
has been creating vegan bags since its inception in 1995. Designing directional pieces in trend-led shades, the Canadian brand brings an ethical alternative to your wardrobe. Matt & Nat
How would you describe Matt & Nat’s approach to handbags? “We want to reinvent people’s perceptions of vegan handbags and accessories. No one should have to compromise their personal style for their values or vice versa. We love minimalist design with maximalist functionality.”
In your opinion, what makes an ‘It’ bag? “The inspiration of our brand is infused in the name MAT(T)erial and NATure, and exploring the synergy between the two. We have and will forever be committed to not using leather or any other animal-based materials in our designs. Each season, we continue to explore and utilize innovative ways to improve their sustainability while still producing high quality and timeless products. In our opinion, that’s an ‘It’ bag!”
How does a brand make a timeless classic? “Listening to our clients, year over year, to find out what their daily needs are, we refine our best-selling designs. Great design solves complex problems in a beautiful way.”
What shapes, textures, and colors are you most excited for this season? “The collection has four different materials: dwell, vintage, loom, and cork. These all include a range of different colors, including our favorite which is the ‘chili,’ a lovely vintage tan color.
dwell collection is composed of 100% PVC that is soft, textured, and rich-looking, creating a classic finish. Pieces from our vintage collection are sturdy and strong, retaining shape and aging gracefully with time. The loom collection is light and supple, allowing for a less structured design and a smooth, soft finish. Made of 100% PU, this collection represents our beliefs towards building a more sustainable future. All of our linings are made of 100% recycled plastic bottles (we recycle around three million a year).”
Which of your hero pieces should we should add to our wish list? “Definitely the Brave — it’s our bestseller!” Matt & Nat, $145, available at Matt & Nat
Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?
Under-$10 Valentine’s Day Gifts That Don’t Suck
Where To Buy The Sunglasses You’re Seeing All Over Instagram
20+ Valentine’s Day Gifts That Aren’t Obvious