If you’re like us, your salary goes predominantly on rent and bills, with some cocktails and exhibition entry fees in between. Oh, and the odd book and music festival. But as fashion obsessives, though we might not all have the funds for endless Gucci and Prada bags (unless we’re snapping them up from Vestiaire or eBay) every now and then we want to splurge on a really great, luxury item that we can treasure for years and use regularly without it disintegrating. And handbags and coats are top of the list of things that feel truly worth spending a chunk of hard earned cash on.
When you’re looking for affordable designer bags, with the quality that will make them durable over a long time, you’re often best seeking out independent designers – those with the know-how to make a brilliant product, but who aren’t going to charge you quite the same price as you would pay on New Bond Street.
From London based gems with an increasingly large following like Yuzefi, through to Scandi newcomers like Venczel, consider this your one-stop guide to affordable designer bags from independent labels that you can feel great about supporting.
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Designer Naza Yousefi is London based and aims to offer high luxury products, with an uncompromising approach to the quality of the materials she picks, but at a price point that more people can stretch to. So for seriously durable, chic but affordable designer bags, this should be a first port of call. Her designs are bold and interestingly shaped. This one, for example, was created to resemble a fortune cookie. But she has also become famous for her half-moon Dolores bags, with knotted leather handles.
The ‘Iris Sage’ – £290
A sculptural handbag brand specialising in petite, structured little totes, mostly with feature top-handles in plaited fabrics or metal hardware.
Mashu was founded in London by designer Ioanna Topouzoglou, is inspired by ancient Cycladic architecture and the bags are crafted by artisans in Greece.
Brown Chouchou Leather Shoulder Bag – £400
You’ve probably seen Elleme before, even if you haven’t known it. The brand’s leather sandals have been a real ‘it’ shoe this summer. Founded by designer Jingjin Fan, Elleme is based in Paris and oozes the simple, timelessness that typifies French-girl style. Elleme originally launched as an accessories brand, with shoes, bags and eyewear, but it’s recently branched into ready-to-wear clothing too.
Not a new brand, but one of Australia’s best luxury imports. Oroton’s bags, envisioned by Creative Director Sophie Holt, are inspired by vintage shapes and nod to her grandmother and muse, who was a renowned fashion designer.
Yellow Bean Leather Shoulder Bag – £340
Osoi is a South Korean label which specialises in folded edges as a design aesthetic. The Brot chain shoulder bag (German for ‘bread’) and the classic Peanut cross body have been real hits on Instagram, but we really love some of the simpler shoulder bags in muted, infinitely wearable colours, like this one!
Loeffler Randall was created by husband and wife duo Jessie Randall and Brian Murphy from the laid-back neighbourhood of Cobble Hill in Brooklyn New York. What started with shoes, now has moved on to see the brand create handbags, as well as ready-to-wear. Their heels are still a wedding favourite and their fluffy, Zadie feather evening bag reached absolute cult-status. Now, the brand’s gingham is the in-thing.
Brown Elan Leather Top Handle Bag – £610
A Scandi brand, Venczel was created by Swedish designer Matilda Venczel after she graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. The label is Copenhagen-based, as so many covetable independent brands are these days, and all the bags are crafted in an Italian atelier. Venczel focussed on unconventional shapes, considered details and a slow-form, sustainable production.
Baby pink glitter furoshiki bag – £75.00
Roop is a handbags and accessories brand based in Manchester, and was founded by Natasha Fernandes Anjo. Everything is handmade, using luxury fabrics. The brand’s signature product is the hand-tied furoshiki bag, like the one linked to here.
Cabasso round-handle canvas tote bag – £370
Launched by designers José Luis Bartolomé and Albert Escribano, Hereu offers a collection of locally crafted accessories, predominantly leather bags and shoes, made by Spanish artisans. The pair have also embarked on a couple of brilliant collaborations, with Studio Nicholson and Scandi of-the-moment Cecilie Bahnsen.
Yellow ‘Lola’ – £245
A London design brand founded in just 2017, by designer Youngwon Kim, Danse Lente’s playful bags are architectural and beautifully sculpted.
Famous primarily for their giant buckle bags, you’ll almost certainly have seen a BOYY bag floating around. BOYY has been around since 2004 and really surfed the first wave of ‘It’ handbag brands from indie designers rather than the traditional fashion houses. Since then, designers Jesse Dorsey and Wannasiri Kongman have continued to evolve their shapes and styles, to produce products for the modern, playful aesthetic. They even do adorable micro-bags.
The O Evergreen Bag – £239.00
Alohas started off with shoes, designed in Barcelona and handcrafted in Alicante. Since then, the brand has gone on to produce other accessories and even clothing. The biggest selling point – other than really sleek, covetable designs – is the fact that Alohas operates an ‘on-demand production’ model, which aims never to make surplus items, creating and shipping only when orders are made, with limited run times for each product. It’s a much more sustainable process because it means way less waste.
JW PEI is a Los Angeles based accessories brand founded by a husband and wife duo.
The inspiration behind the brand was the idea that fashion should be accessible, effortless and empowering. The materials used are all either vegan leathers or recycled plastics, with sustainability in mind.
Behind Wicker Wings is a brother and sister team – Belinda and James – whose mission is to put wicker back on the map, and help independent artisans out in the process. Each basket is handwoven by female craftworkers in Indonesia. The baskets then journey to England where, with the help of some premium leather and hardware, they’re then transformed into a variety of beautiful bags.
Rattan is one of the fastest growing, replenishable natural materials, so there’s a sustainability focus behind the brand too.
Spanish design partnership Belen Perez Torres and Leticia Vázquez launched their first collection in just 2018. Their bags are inspired by the vintage styles of their grandmothers.
Agneel is a luxury leather handbag brand founded by creative director Yesim Karaman in 2016 in Berlin, Germany. The pieces are exquisitely designed to be simple, timeless but also easily pairable with lots of modern and fashion-forward clothing styles.
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