Outside the Bag

By Kristen Ordonez

The beauty of fashion is it’s innate ability to evolve, both forward and backwards in time. Its only curse is deciding which pieces and styles align with your taste. For designers, the best way to stay ahead of the curve is to think outside the metaphorical box, or in this case, bag. Moving away from tried-and-true materials, high-end designers are pushing the boundaries of handbag craftsmanship by utilizing unique materials and techniques that can only be described as fun.

Crochet

The 2020s have brought a reemergence of craftsmanship regarding knit and crochet pieces, showing that crochet is more than just a cozy at-home hobby. This emerald green top handle bag by Bottega Veneta is composed of braided leather, boasting the perfect balance between fashion and craft. Its size makes it a tiny but mighty statement piece, outfitted in the brand’s signature color that is both bold and youthful. Priced at $5,400, you won’t be able to resist matching its bold style.

Another iconic Italian fashion brand that has evolved alongside fashion is Valentino Garavani. This multicolored crochet shoulder bag is outfitted allover in signature Roman studs, giving a modern flair to an otherwise seemingly simple design. Priced at $3,250, this piece also has added versatility with a removable chain shoulder strap.

Shearling/Fur

While fur or shearling is not an atypical material used in fashion, these uniquely designed handbags offer more than what comes to mind when one thinks of fur fashion. Take this Saint Laurent pouch clutch bag in quilted, dyed Spanish shearling. Its color alone draws the eye and evokes a sense of playfulness, while its craftsmanship strikes a balance between function and fashion. Priced at $1,450, if you’re looking to upscale your wardrobe with something funky yet elegant, this piece is an easy choice.

Speaking of funky, another piece by Bottega Veneta — the Jodie Mini Hobo Bag — awakens an almost 90s style of compact yet trendsetting handbags. Made in Italy and priced at $2,500, this shearling, knotted strap bag punctuates any look with a sense of fun.

Beaded

Designing bead-encrusted fashion items is the equivalent of glowing up your favorite purse. These pieces by Christian Louboutin do that and more by taking both unique and simple silhouettes and raising the bar on glamor. This Mary Jane Crystal Beaded bucket bag is an iconic example, as the concept remains basic but the execution soars far beyond. Priced at $4,990, the suede bucket bag boasts crystal beading allover, with a removable chain and leather shoulder strap. The Louboutin red leather lining is key to the brand’s signature style. The red is iconic to the brand’s line of shoes and can be seen in the Mary Jane bucket bag’s interior. But what happens when these two come together in one form? Enter…. The Red Sole Pump Clutch.

The Shimmery Red Sole Pump Clutch Bag demonstrates not only Louboutin’s classic style sensibilities, but also its ability to have fun with fashion and design. The suede clutch is clothed elegantly in black beading and is fitted beautifully with both a removable chain shoulder strap and wrist strap. Priced at $3,990, this stylish piece pays homage to an iconic piece of fashion history and demonstrates the complexities of an equally iconic brand.