If Your Handbag Collection Needs A Refresh, Shop From These Asian-Owned Brands

Discover some hidden gems.

by Marina Liao and Jess Ferguson
Originally Published: 
pipatchara bag
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For anyone in dire need of a handbag refresh this season, make your next purchase from a small business. Not only will your contributions be deeply appreciated, but this is also an opportunity to discover non-mainstream fashion goods. If you’re wondering where to start, you can peruse through some Asian-owned handbag brands, below. As you may know, May, too, marks the start of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month — a period that celebrates and acknowledges the history, culture, and achievements of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans in the United States. Thus, there’s truly no better time to support an AAPI business than right now.

For those who like to show support to the AAPI community through fashion, art, and design, buy from one of the Asian-owned labels ahead. Your monetary contribution can lift up the AAPI community, and your purchase can broaden the reach of that small brand to a larger audience. The list of 14 brands to know encompasses emerging names like EMOTIONAL WORLD and XO GOGO to street style favorites like JW Pei and Senreve. You’ll find bags crafted not only in New York City, but also abroad in cities like Seoul and Copenhagen. There are designers like Jenny Lei of FRÉJA NEW YORK who offers classic, minimalist handbags — think Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s aesthetic — and, on the other end of the spectrum, there’s Sandy Ley of XO GOGO whose nostalgic baguette bags cater towards a more playful and carefree attitude of dressing up.

Before more spoilers are given out, simply scroll down to find, and buy, your next favorite handbag.


If you’re looking for a brand that embraces slow and community-led fashion, check out Pipatchara Kaeojinda and her sister Jittrinee Kaeojinda’s handbag label Pipatchara. It started in Thailand, where the sisters’ aim was to create jobs for locals by teaching them the process of macramé — a type of artwork technique where various cords and strings are knotted into textiles and patterns. This look is still one of their signatures today, but since launching in 2019, the sisters have expanded their product offerings to include other purse designs and playful clothing, too. One of their most sought-after pieces right now is the Infinitude Party Bag, which features dangling geometric pieces made from water bottle lids and food containers.


Founder Takanohiro Okude’s Japanese heritage serves as the inspiration behind his brand LASTFRAME. According to the website, the first part of the name “last” pays tribute to Japanese artisanal techniques the brand seeks to revive while the second part “frame” refers to the brand’s mission to preserve and shine a spotlight on these techniques by working them into the bag designs. LASTFRAME’s impressive level of craftsmanship is evident in the sleek, slinky woven totes offered in pastel, neutral, and bold shades. If you want to invest in a beloved style from the brand, start with its Market Bag — a sort of elevated tote bag with intricate weaving and a leather strap.


Seoul-based designer Heejin Kang founded OSOI in 2016. Kang’s intention for the brand is to create bags, jewelry, and shoes that have a classic aesthetic with unexpected design touches. Some of our favorite pieces include the fuchsia-colored Belted Brocle handbag and the Mini Toni purse. Each bag is created right in Seoul, with prices starting around $330 and sold through retailers like SSENSE.


WARP, founded in 2016 by Hirra Babar, creates eye-catching geometric purses like an asymmetrical flap Baguette bag and accordion-inspired totes. The company uses byproduct goat leather from Pakistan’s robust meat industry to create its eco-friendly and stylish pieces. The brand, located in Lahore, the cultural center of Pakistan, recently partnered with local Pakistani women on a capsule collection called NISA for International Women’s Day, featuring hand-embroidered designs. And for its new spring/summer 2023 collection, Babar draws on patterns seen in Islamic culture and architecture with a bright color palette. In other words? Support this incredible brand by adding one of its styles into your virtual shopping cart STAT.


If you’re on the hunt for a bag that’s suited for nights out in the city, look no further than KARA, which offers the sparkliest party-ready styles. Sarah Law, who was born in Los Angeles and raised in Hong Kong, started the label to fill a fashion gap for playful, expressive, and glitzy designs. The craftsmanship and attention to detail is evident with its hand-stitched crystal mesh bags and twisty phone cord-inspired straps. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Scarlett Johansson, Kendall Jenner, and Rihanna have all carried KARA’s bedazzled designs and classic leather staples. In other words: get one ASAP.

Apede mod

Apede Mod was founded by Jaquelyn Wang and Claudia Lin in 2016. The label offers handbags in minimalist silhouettes with maximum utility. You can liven up your weekend outfit with its teal Froggy shoulder bag or walk into the office with a polished croc-embossed option. Each bag is designed in New York City with prices starting around $245. The founders’ inspirations for their accessories, according to the brand’s website, comes from nature, vintage pieces, architecture, and modern culture. (You can thus find handbag collections aptly titled Monet or Sakura.) For those wondering about the label’s nomenclature — “apede” was derived from an ancient Egyptian god named Apedemak, meaning courage and independence, while mod stands for modern.

Apede Mod
Raspberry Croc Froggy
You don’t need to wear head-to-toe pink to tap into the Barbiecore trend — this shoulder bag is plenty to capture that aesthetic.


You can spot a BOYY handbag anywhere thanks to the big buckle detail on the front of almost every style. Early on, the anti-It bag, as it was called by Business of Fashion, attracted a popular following that included both fashion editors and celebrities alike. Sarah Jessica Parker, Bella Hadid, and Jennifer Lopez are all fans of BOYY bags. The luxurious accessories are designed by Wannasiri Kongman, who also co-founded the brand with husband Jesse Dorsey in 2006. You can expect to find super structured pieces with minimalist finishings. Save for the color and sometimes cool silhouettes, the bags carry a timeless quality to them versus that of-the-moment feel. Your BOYY piece will become a classic staple in your handbag collection.


For anyone not familiar with the label advene, it is the brainchild of Zi Xuan and Yijia Wang. Xuan is a fashion industry veteran, having worked at Marc Jacobs and Coach, while Wang has a marketing background on consumer behavior. The two joined forces over their love of design to launch their luxury accessories label in November 2020. The tightly edited selections are part of the brand’s messaging to embrace timeless investment pieces. The leather is made from 100% traceable cow leather while the dust bag it comes in is crafted from deadstock hemp fabric. Look for the tiny details that make the bag unique like the comma in the advene logo, which is illustrated with Chinese calligraphy that pay homage to the founders’ roots.


Coral Chung and Wendy Wen founded Senreve in 2016 (the name combines the words sense and dream in French) with the mission to provide quality, and cute, laptop bags for professional women. The bag that initially launched them into fame was the Maestra style — a convertible leather bag that can be worn as a satchel, tote, crossbody, or backpack. The Maestra, which comes in a mini size too, is still one of the best sellers on Senreve’s website to this day. The label has a celebrity following as you’ve likely seen Senreve bags pop on the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Kristen Bell, Jenna Dewan, and Sophia Bush. The popularity of the accessories is due to the smart, polished designs and the bags’ functionality. Selections include a belt bag — your more stylish fanny pack — a tote, a bucket bag, and a bracelet pouch for occasions where less is more.

Aesther Ekme

Fans of The Row and Celine will immediately love all the leather bags from Aesther Ekme as they embody similar streamlined designs. Stephane Park is the founder and creative director of the brand, which is based between Copenhagen and Paris. “Living in Copenhagen, I found that I really connected to the design culture here. And design is part of everything, which I appreciate,” said Park to the Scandinavia Standard. “We’re popular in Japan, and the [United States] is a growing segment for us, but Scandinavia is currently where we’re doing best. It makes a lot of sense, because Scandinavians are invested in functional beauty.” Except for a barely-there three dot logo, Park’s bags come across as clean, casual, and perfectly structured. Though the bags are priced competitively, you can rest assured they’ll be in your wardrobe for years to come.

JW Pei

JW Pei is loved by Instagram influencers and street style stars like model Irina Shayk. This luxury vegan handbag label was founded by husband and wife duo Yang Pei and Stephanie Li in 2016. They were set on discovering a more eco-friendly alternative to PVC for accessories and landed on ultra-microfiber — a lightweight, non-woven fabric made from blended fibers of polyester and polyamide. Materials aside, the label’s bags have mass design appeal as they come in fun shapes and colors. You can also swap out bag handles and tack on extra accessories for a more customized experience. The affordable price point doesn’t hurt either, as the bags are priced anywhere from $39 to 175 (for a drawstring backpack).


For those who prefer bags that have a bit of rawness to them, look towards the newly launched brand EMOTIONAL WORLD for all your needs. The label offers bags crafted through traditional Japanese techniques like SASHIKO embroidery — a form of needlework using small stitches to form a pattern. You’ll notice all the accessories have a deconstructed aesthetic, however, just because the shoulder bags and satchels resemble something you’ve taken apart and then put back together, it doesn’t mean the design wasn’t done without care. Each order, according to EMOTIONAL WORLD’s Instagram account, takes about a month to fulfill due to the precision and care it takes to make a bag. The pieces are crafted from different fabrics such as natural plant dyed material and vintage army clothing/suede.


The handbags from XO GOGO lives up to the brand’s ‘fun meets fashion’ mission statement. The few designs available right now range from a ‘90s nylon baby baguette shoulder bag ($140) to a mini leopard duffle bag ($110). Not only are the accessories affordable, but they’re also all designed in New York City by designer and founder Sandy Ley. Her playful accessories align well with the reemergence of nostalgic childhood fashion trends such as chunky maximalist resin rings, baby tees, and beaded phone charms. Don’t be surprised if you see Ley’s bags on the likes of Dua Lipa or Bella Hadid — the vibe is right up her alley.


Should your style icons include Meghan Markle, Amal Clooney, or Angelina Jolie, you’ll want to check out FRÉJA NEW YORK (pronounced frei-ya). The slow fashion accessories label offers structured, minimalist shoulder bags, totes, and cardholders. Because the company works with a small factory in China (you can read more about the partnership on FRÉJA NEW YORK’s website), each of its bags is meticulously crafted with care and precision. The vegan offerings are made with ultrafiber — a material that uses less water and energy compared to bags made with polyurethane (PU) and is OEKO-TEX certified, meaning the product doesn’t contain harmful chemicals that could affect your health. If you’re passionate about investing in timeless pieces with a transparent supply chain process, pre-order a FREJA bag below.

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