As the autumn/winter season fast approaches, so does the prospect of refreshing your wardrobe, and I can’t think of an easier way to do it than with the very best designer handbags labels have to offer.
Don’t be fooled by my mention of the new season though. If you play your cards right, your arm candy will transcend trends so that you’ll find yourself reaching for it for years to come. In this way, it’s the best sartorial investment you can make.
With this in mind, you’ll never go wrong with a classic oversized tote – Loewe and Khaite have some great styles for AW21 – or a crossbody bag: it’s no surprise that Gucci’s GG Marmont, Bottega Venetta’s Cassette and Saint Laurent’s Loulou styles get restocked year after year to keep up with demand.
That said, if you want to have a little bit of fun, designers have gone all out with their autumn trends ticking handbags.
The best arm candy for AW21 ranges from revamped everyday bags (90s-inspired shoulder bags are everywhere right now, from Givenchy to Fendi and Chloé) to the coolest bucket and clutch bags re-imagined in tactile fabrics and finishings such as raffia and chains and fun shades of neon and primary colours (I’m thinking of BOYY’s canvas bags, Prada’s hot pink macramé tote and basically everything at Bottega).
If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to the latest designer wares, worry not. There are so many cool contemporary brands offering handbags for around £300. I’m personally a big fan of Manu Atelier, By Far and Elleme for everyday classics and fun going-out bags.
Keep scrolling to shop my edit of the best designer handbags.
ATOMY's new season designs, including this cone bag, slot themselves effortlessly into your existing wardrobe, adding a modern yet classical touch to it.
Introducing the Marina Raphael and Doina Ciobanu’s handbag capsule collection. Holding a shared vision of a fashion industry, which has a climate positive and responsible ethos at the core, accessories designer and founder of eponymous brand, Marina Raphael joins forces with sustainability advocate Doina Ciobanu to launch a capsule that drives forward an aspirational sustainability agenda for the brand.
The capsule is comprised of one style in three colourways, a limited edition run in a chic neutral colour palette. A delicate chain strap creates a sophisticated, feminine allure. Spacious enough for day yet petite enough for evenings. For every DOINA bag a percentage of sales will be donated to Wells for Zoe to offset production and logistic impacts. Wells for Zoe is a charity close to both Doina and Marina that has a considerable and valued impact in the local community through both social and environmental initiatives.
Playful textures are a key trend for AW21 and I can't think of a better way to embrace them than with this classic-with-a-twist from the creative minds at Manu Atelier. The Mini Hobo bag has a compact half-moon structured shape, easy to use and extremely practical. It's made of soft leather, and opens to a suede-lined interior and features an internal zippered compartment.
Showcasing an elegant rectangle shape, DENA offers a contemporary refresh to a classic and structured silhouette. Inspired by the endless possibilities of where the everyday may take you, this adjustable crossbody companion is built for versatility with the addition of a short underarm shoulder strap.
For the ‘Avant-Premiere’ AW21 collection – Maison Margiela’s Pre-Fall collection – comes the S.W.A.L.K. II bag. The bag is available in two sizes: medium and small in red and black as a nod to tango which was an inspiration for the narrative in the S.W.A.L.K. II film.
The S.W.A.L.K. II is a frame clutch bag with a 50s-style clasp constructed from handmade crochet raffia wilk silk lining. Calf leather is delicately inlaid into the brass curved handle. The bag also features an intricate chain strap, allowing for the bag, allowing for the bag to be worn over the shoulder and a leather Maison Margiela tag.
This timeless satchel combines a relaxed silhouette with considered detailing. Its key feature is the Typography lock, a celebration of Mulberry's typographic identity on the occasion of our 50th anniversary.
JW Anderson always embodies the fun side of fashion, and this chain detail makes an otherwise classic bag way more interesting.
Fendi's 'Croissant' shoulder bag is adorned with the house's instantly recognizable 'FF' hardware, which was first introduced by Karl Lagerfeld in the '60s. Made in Italy from smooth leather, it fits your phone, keys, cardholder and a few other small essentials and has an adjustable the buckle-fastening strap that fits over your shoulder.
Khaite's 'Florence' tote is made from supple burgundy leather in a puffy grid-like design and detailed with a discreet gold moniker.
Bottega Veneta’s beige The Chain Pouch bag is crafted from sumptuously soft shearling, capturing creative director Daniel Lee’s playful approach to the house’s boundary-pushing ethos. It’s shaped to a voluminous silhouette and suspends from a single chunky gold cable chain shoulder strap that accentuates the modern mood.
This season, Autumn Winter 21 marks the return of the Edith, an iconic Chloé bag. First launched in 2006, the Edith bag, defined by its structured yet feminine shape and equestrian detailing, projected a style that was quintessentially Chloé. The Autumn – Winter 21 collection designed by Gabriela Hearst marks the return of this iconic Chloé bag. For Gabriela, Edith carries personal significance: this was her first luxury bag, one that she has held onto for 15 years. Reviving Edith embodies her long-standing rapport with Chloé while also reinforcing her vision and values.
The re-edition of Edith retains many of its original features: a gently sloping shape in finely crafted buffalo leather with ecru stitching; rounded handles that frame the top opening and central zipper; functional buckles securing the front pocket; and a recognisable leather tag embossed with the Chloé logo. To start, the palette will span natural, richly earthy tones such as burgundy, sepia and autumnal brown along with black and white.
Prada's 'String' tote is so different and unexpected - plus it adds vibrant color to your outfit. Made in Italy, it's designed with a fuchsia satin pouch that's cradled inside contrasting black macramé netting. The dramatic tassels move beautifully and the drawstring top keeps essentials secure.
Jacquards are part of kate spade's heritage almost as much as nylon. They’re unique fabrics: highly-textured, with patterns that are woven, instead of printed. For this collection kate spade wanted to do something totally new with its signature spade flower pattern.
The Raisin, Elleme's original handbag silhouette, is updated in a pale brown hue with snake-effect printed accents. Crafted in Italy from leather, it's completed with a suede-lined interior and closes with both magnetic and hook fastenings that create its iconic shape.
Referencing the anemone motif central to the Alexander McQueen Autumn/Winter ready-to-wear collection, The Curve bag is reinvented for the new season. First launched for SS21, for Autumn/Winter 2021, The Curve is introduced in a mix of vibrant shades including oxblood, rose gold, forest green, powder blue, ice pink and black, and in lake blue denim and black. A special additional signature colour-blocking style also features pink, red and black.
BY FAR utilizes structural lines to create sophisticated styles such as this black Portia shoulder bag. Made from patent leather, it has an adjustable strap and golden hardware.
Adorned with chunky turquoise-tone beaded chain links, this playful bag will add a high-energy accent to any look.
This chic new addition to the Saint Laurent family drops at the end of August, and I for one can't wait to add it to my wardrobe.
The Micro Riviera is a miniscule twist on the Marina Raphael signature tote. Its instantly recognizable shape is dressed in warm caramel napa and black glossy plexiglass handles, all in this petite, ultra-chic form.
Available in two sizes, the top-handled Trinity permeates a subtle retro charm that is très chic and beautifully feminine. The multicolour leather panels give a modern and playful touch to this exclusive style. From relaxed denim to floaty dresses, this bag was made to add instant polish to any outfit.
You don't go to JACQUEMUS if you want an everyday bag that'll disappear in the backdrop of your outfit. No, if you want to make a statement, this is the bag for you.
This neutral Gucci Ophidia GG Supreme mini bag is made in Italy from monogram canvas and leather. Featuring a Web stripe base, it has gold tone hardware, an adjustable handle, GG logo plaque, top zip closure and two card slots inside.
This neutral Chloé Kiss small leather cross body bag is made in Italy. It features a magnetic closure, a top handle with sculpted gold tone hardware, a removable and adjustable strap, a logo stamp and a main compartment with an internal slip pocket.
As its name suggest, this is your new everyday classic.