The Bag Gap

Have you ever experienced frustration with handbag shopping? As in you find something under $100 but it falls apart almost instantly and everything else is $1,500+? It seems there’s not much of a “middle class” (or shall we say middle clasp? BOOM!) in the world of handbags, but there is if you really look for it.

Affordable designer handbags do exist. Don’t believe me?

chanel clutch, chanel handbags

These two Chanel bags combined cost about $20,000 and although they’re gorgeous to look at, they fit close to nothing and if you drop them you’re pretty screwed. For the price of these two Chanel bags you can get exactly 44.44 of these Sophie Hulme bags.

sophie hulme, street style

Crazy to think about it that way, right?

How often do you come across a bag in the $300-$500 range? It’s very rare (especially to find one of great quality). Even contemporary designers like Alexander Wang and 3.1 Phillip Lim are making bags over $1,000. But contemporary prices are moving up in general (which may be a discussion in another post for another day). You could buy a bag in that price range (see: Kate Spade, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Coach, Rebecca Minkoff, etc.) but do you really want to be carrying the same bag as everyone else?

So who exactly is paving the way for the middle class of bags? In the last few years, there’s a been a bunch of designers popping up who seem to have the same frustration in this bag category so they’re doing something about it. Look to brands like Mansur Gavriel, Time’s Arrow and Everlane for cool carryalls (whether it be every day totes, a shoulder bag or even some fun clutches). The era of flashy designers bags (look at my Chanel CCs! My LVs! My GGs!) are over. Having a quality bag by an up-and-coming designer is where it’s at. So, now…where to find such bags? Besdies the designers I’ve mentioned so far, here’s who you should be on the lookout for.

($400-$800). Discovered this designer on Anthem Wares (a great place to look for quality accessories you won’t find anywhere else). They have a ton of styles to fit your every bag need.

Time’s Arrow ($350-$765). With their signature gold arrow hardware, these bags are great for day-to-night.

Clare Vivier ($160-$500). Known for her clutches and laptop cases, the designer now offers a wide variety of handbags (plus you can get them monogramed).

Mansur Gavriel ($400-$500). If you live by the motto “less is more” then these are the bags for you. They only offer a few styles and the bags are ACTUALLY FUNCTIONAL.

Everlane ($235-$425). In the same boat as Mansur Gavriel, Everlane offers a few simple styles of high quality leather bags (plus you can find out exactly where/how they’re made on their site).

Buba London ($300-$650). Another good place to find handbags in this price range is at space519 here in Chicago. They not only carry Buba London (one of my new favorite bag lines, seen here) but a few other designers featured in this post.

Sophie Hulme ($450-$925). Definitely on the higher end of these “contemporary” bag designers, but a majority of the bags are around $500 (including my favorite). And like Time’s Arrow, gold hardware is always a nice touch.

Angel Jackson ($450-$650). Another one I found on Anthem Wares, I would look to this designer for more decorative bags (if you tend to wear all black, Angel Jackson clutches are an easy way to add some color and texture to your outfit).

Building Block ($300-$600). This is what I like to call minimalist done SO right. Also, another designer available at space519.

Let & Her ($260-$600). Like le[a]ther. Get it? I love the gray bag pictured above but how great are these mini box bags? (most likely will be my next bag purchase…from space519, of course).

So I hope this was at least somewhat helpful for you finding your next handbag. Remember you don’t have to have the “it” bag to be cool (I mean, how many more times can we see the damn Chanel Boy bag?!) You’re a bad ass in my book if you’re sporting any of these up-and-comers in the bag world. But if you’re still looking for a designer deal, I always look to Yoox, The Outnet and Barneys Warehouse. You can’t go wrong.

And if you just can’t wait to shop…

Images via Le 21eme & Elle UK

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