I used to watch The Hills and lust after Lauren Conrad’s iconic Chanel 2.55 jumbo bag until one day I realised the hefty price tag (now over £7000) and audibly gasped. Sure, we all love a spangly designer bag, but the price– not so much.
The designer industry is growing exponentially and what I like to call ‘more attainable luxury’ is becoming popular, as people are investing in better quality items and considering the longevity of their pieces. Everyone wants a piece of luxury– whether it’s via rental or outlet shopping, and people are parting with hard-earned money for luxury investments to integrate with their high-street buys.
I’ve come to appreciate how a handbag can elevate an outfit to new heights, but the price tags are often sky-high to match. It’s the reason dupes are so popular. However, there’s a gap in the luxury goods market, with emerging designers and luxe high-street brands presenting us with less nail-biting options with quality that’s on par. Some of these brands are even made in the same factories as their pricier designer counterparts!
The Loewe basket bag was a prime example of this, which is why it’s still so popular. From £375, it’s certainly not a bargain but unlike the brand’s over £1000-plus styles, it’s one you can save up for as an investment piece. Let’s not forget Jacquemus’ itty bitty Le Chiquito bag, either, (a party season must-have IMHO). With prices from around the £500-mark, it’s expensive yes, but warrants less scrimping than, say, a Chanel, which is why Chiquitos fly off the shelves like hotcakes.
I love hunting for good quality, responsibly made (and sensibly priced) bags, which is how I’ve accumulated a roster of fresh, mid-price designer bags. I even prefer them to spenny designers.
When I’m not searching for less-known brands, I’m on pre-loved sites where you’re guaranteed to find a bargain, or rental sites so I can at least trial them first. If, like me, you’re looking for a steal (who isn’t?), I’d recommend keeping an eye on outlets and pre-loved sites like The Outnet, Vestiaire Collective and Lampoo.
I’ve found 23 stunning investment bags if you’re in the market to treat yourself or fancy pinning a new swanky style to your vision board and saving up. They’re an investment and something worth thinking about but a handbag is to be loved, lived in, cherished, and passed down through generations…
What are the best investment bag brands to know in 2023?
JW Pei has the A-list stamp of approval– its bags have been spotted on celebs from Gigi Hadid to Emily Ratajkowski. The scrunched handle Gabbi bag is its most notable style but I have a soft spot for the Joy bag. It’s subdued, classic and the curved base is an upside-down nod to the banana bag trend! Most of their styles come in an array of colours, so there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes.
Wandler expertly produce leather goods and its bags are made with attention to detail. The brand makes suave bags that are great for minimalists and lovers of paired-back uniforms. The envelope-style purses have a nod to Parisian style and for that reason, they’re high on my wish list. Made in Europe, responsibly sourced materials, presented in a dust bag (less important, but you know…) Tick, tick tick.
Mashu bags are created from innovative and considered materials to reduce the impact on animals and the environment. These include PETA-approved vegan leathers and recycled plastic. The brand boasts both playful and classic designs in sleek, structured forms with striking hardware–think chunky brass handles and buckles in unusual organic shapes. On my wish list? the vintage-inspired Nicole, in a spring-ready white.
Don’t sleep on apparel retailers either as some of them produce the dreamiest bags. Step forward, St Agni. The Aussie brand is known for its timeless resort wear -inspired designs, but it also has a minimalist capsule of accessories. The leather tote bag is the perfect work bag, roomy enough for you laptop, notebook and all the other essentials. Plus, the monochromatic colour will work with endless outfit combinations.
Alexandra K is a fantastic option that produces conscious vegan bags with innovative materials. The Joy is made from corn, which is supple and imitates the look and feel of leather – the gold finish ties the design together.
You may be more familiar with Vagabond for its footwear, but its bags are equally chic. The Mini Milazzo bag has a nod to the Parisian baguette shape with a stylish modern twist.
I’m all about off-the-radar brands that are producing high-quality and mindful pieces. Manu Atelier does just that. Its collection is full of the sleekest elevated designs that work year-round, while the unusual colour way sets them apart from other more classic bag styles.
It’s no surprise that DeMellier bags are award-winning. They are simply stunning! Crafted from Italian leather and rated Gold by the Leather Working Group, it’s a brand to watch. DeMellier’s latest blogger collabs are with the ever-stylish Felicia Akerstorm and Lorna of Symphony of Silk. The craftsmanship translates from the pictures alone!
Dragon Diffusion was my first foray into premium bags, and I was sold because of their conscious credentials, wearability, and dreamy colourways (plus, Matches Fashion had a discount so obvs that helped, too). Although it was a scary leap, it’s one I don’t regret. I wear mine all of the time– from summer through to autumn. Known for their patina that grows richer through wear, Dragon Diffusion bags age like a fine wine, which is great if like me you look for handbags that aren’t too precious. Although they’ve become a cool-girl bag the style never dates.
Don’t sleep on the high street when it comes to investment bags either because you’ll be surprised how well they can wear. COS accessories look very premium for their price point – This is my favourite COS bag for spring and summer but I’m sure I’ll be reaching for it in autumn and winter too.
From clothing to bags, Staud brings a playful edge to its designs and this knot bag is testament to that. It’s the brand to make a beeline for if you like slightly bolder styles. I’m saving for this cute green colour way.
If you ask me Oroton hits the nail on the head when it comes to beautifully finished and classic bags at a sensible point for a designer. Its bags look so much more expensive than they are and compare to the Loewes of the designer bag world in terms of finish and sleek design. I’m a sucker for gold hardware as it looks so luxe!
Radley is the brand to know if you’re looking at dipping your toes into the luxe accessories market, as styles start around the £100 mark. Its bags are finished beautifully, and their latest collection boasts some unique designs, from large leather totes to top-handle crossbody bags. This dreamy lavender bag is inspired by Carrie Bradshaw (which is always a good sign) and the slim shoulder bags that were so popular in the late ’90s/early ’00s. And I’m obsessed.
The Mansur Gavriel bucket bag is a classic style that’s best for people who love to carry everything but the kitchen sink. The barely-there branding lends itself to fans of a minimalist look.
The squishy dumpling bag isn’t going anywhere, which is just as well as it’s perfect if, like me, you want a roomy bag. The Loeffler Randall Willa is similar to the infamous Bottega Veneta pouch but with a more attainable price tag. You can wear it with the dainty gold chain or tuck it inside for a minimalist party look.
By Far produces swoon-worthy accessories – both footwear and leather goods. The Bulgarian brand has amassed a cult following and although accessories are made with the ‘it girl’ in mind, the pieces also have staying power. I’ve spotted styles that have a timeless appeal and look more expensive than they are.
Tory Burch is one of my favourite designers. The designs are timeless, and cater for a wide range of price points. From plush bucket bags to canvas monogrammed bags, you’ll find something to suit all tastes. The mini crossbody is chic and practical.
If you’re looking for an evening bag with interest, Isla Risa is the brand you need to know. Its chunky rope bags are woven so intricately. I’d pair one with a silk slip dress for a gorgeous mix of textures textures. Can’t quite stretch to one now? They’re also available for rental via John Lewis’ latest rental platform.
Considered luxury atelier Naru recently launched a rental initiative for its artisanal brand, so people can wear the premium styles at a more affordable price point if they aren’t in the market to buy or want to wear them for a special occasion.
Polène is synonymous with the French capital and no fashion-fuelled girls’ trip is complete without a visit to its luxe boutique store. Let me tell you, the shop’s interior goals too. They have delicate and classic designs with a twist– like the curvature and convertible straps. I’m in love with the Numéro Dix hammock shape for this season and I can tell how beautifully it will date in years to come. It may or may not be on its way to me right now! It’s one of those brands that if you know, you know. You know?