If you think about it, a handbag is one of the most important purchases you make. You need a piece that you can trust to guard and protect your most valuable possessions — car keys, wallet, and phone included. On the other hand, you use it every day, so versatility and style are both key components. As it happens, the 2021 handbag trends check all those boxes.
You can always rely on luxury powerhouses like Chanel, Prada, and Gucci to bring back their iconic, sought-after silhouettes and logos season after season. But, it's arguably the small, under-the-radar brands that bring something unexpected to the table. Whether it be sculptural silhouettes or nostalgic styles, these emerging labels have mastered hitting the trends in their own original ways. And while you won't find them on the runway, you will (and probably already have) seen them all over your Instagram feed from your favorite influencers. TZR spoke to the experts behind four well-known indie handbag brands — By Far, Little Liffner, Usisi Sister, and Chylak — to see what's in store for this year. Ahead, find the 10 styles these experts predict will reign supreme this year.
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Early '00s Throwback
"A throwback to cult looks from the early 2000s, the cushion bags will be the next go-to for city girls on the go — easy, roomy, and complimenting a casual or business day look, just as well as an evening one," Valentina Ignatova, CMO and co-founder of BY FAR, tells TZR. While sleek structured bags continue to win over the fashion crowd, these roomy, slouchy styles offer up more of a laid back aesthetic. You'll feel like you've been transported back to the early '00s with the label's Cush bag (pictured above).
"Though it is a more of a long term trend, minimalism feels more relevant than ever for 2021," Paulina Liffner von Sydow, Founder & Creative Director of Little Liffner, tells TZR. "There is something rough yet refined, effortless, and sexy about it that feels very welcome in fashion now. I think there is a clean slate sensibility in the industry right now that makes us want to stay edited and focused."
For an elevated, simple tote, look no further than the label's Spring/Summer 2021 offerings. "The Minimal Totes [in the collection] are super clean and effortless to wear with any outfit," she explains. And if you're eager for a simple bag with a bit of edge, consider Mateo's Black Croc Diana Bag or Khaite's Augusta Envelope Pleat Suede Shoulder Bag which have similarly sleek silhouettes but still feel different.
Large & Functional Everyday Bags
If you're one to travel with half of your apartment, you're in luck: according to Chylak, oversized bags are in for 2021. For an option that's equal parts timeless and trendy, opt for the brand's Maxi Basket Bag, made from crocodile-embossed leather. On the other hand, if you want more of a pared-back style, choose Peter Do x Medea's Porcelain Evening Bag, featuring a cool square silhouette and elegant gold handle.
"For us, the crescent shape effortlessly ticks off all the right boxes for 2021, no matter if it is structured and sculptural or a bit slouchy," Ignatova says. "We love it because it offers enough room to be functional and a great dose of minimalism to match perfectly to any aesthetics, proving that bigger is not always better." The round crescent structure arguably kicked off with Staud's cult-favorite Moon Bag, launched back in 2019. With its continued success, the bag is now offered in cool materials like summery rattan. Another funky structured style is Carolina Santo Domingo's Ostra bag, which mimics the shape of an oyster.
Millie Allsopp, Co-Founder of Usisi Sister, predicts hands-free bags that you can easily move with will be big in 2021. Go for a simple crossbody that can also be used as a clutch, like the brand's Charlie bag. Another route would be a belt bag (which can also be worn as a crossbody), like Jacquemus' La Banane Leather Belt Bag.
"There is something oddly therapeutic about soft leather bags," Liffner von Sydow says. "They are comforting to hold, and feel good to squeeze. I'm personally carrying our new Knot Day Bag right now and it gives me palpable pleasure to wear it under my arm."
Allsopp says simple statements, like sculptural shapes with defining details, will dominate. For instance, Coperni's Swipe Bag has become a mainstay over the past few seasons, and with good reason. The sculptural, curved shape sets itself apart from other intricate silhouettes on the market. Other brands that have championed their own unique shapes are Cult Gaia and S.Joon.
Thanks to Bottega Veneta's popular Pouch bag, clutches are becoming more of an everyday bag, rather than just for evening activities. In fact, Chylak predicts the style will make a comeback in 2021. Scoop up a silhouette that can also serve as a pillow on the train, like the Pouch or Studio Amelia's Mini Drawstring Leather Clutch. Alternatively, try out an envelope look, such as Bouswari's red python Diaba Clutch.
"As customers become more fashion literate and conscious of buying quality when it comes to both materials and design, I think originality becomes more important," Liffner von Sydow says. "Refined designs with thoughtful and considered details will win as customers look for bags to love over seasons. I like to think our Tulip Totes and Pebble bags are examples of balanced and original design."
And as of late, Vavvoune and Christian Siriano collaborated to create a new range of one-of-a-kind silhouettes, including the Mishe bag, which features a winged-out design. Additionally, Simon Miller's fashion girl-favorite Puffin Bag has more of a sloughy, unique twist to it.
Allsopp thinks versatile hues, such as neutral tones or bi-color options, will take off in 2021. While a classic cream or brown bag makes the most sense if you're going for practicality, you can still match your ensembles with a bi-color style. Just opt for two neutrals, like a black and white two-tone piece, and you'll be stress-free. Any of the below bags will seamlessly coordinate with your wardrobe.
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