The 18 Classic Designer Bags of Our Generation
We're of the opinion that everything we buy should be viewed as an investment. Be it a Topshop dress, a pair of bejeweled shoes, vintage partywear, or a high-ticket camel coat, every item in our wardrobes is loved just the same. However, there's no denying that we have a very special place in our hearts for classic designer handbags.
A designer bag should truly last a lifetime—which is why it pays to seek out and save up for styles from the industry's most trusted fashion brands. From well-established pieces like Chanel and Dior to relatively new styles from brands such as Loewe, there are so many different options to choose from that the process can be made all the more daunting.
So, to help you decide which bag is the right investment for you, we've done the hard work and pooled the world's classic designer handbag brands together in one place, along with the bags that helped cement their respective timeless statuses. Keep scrolling for inspiration, and start putting those pennies away pronto.
Chanel Small Classic Flap Handbag ($5000)
We can't discuss designer bags without giving Chanel the attention it deserves. The brand's iconic 2.55 bag was designed by Gabrielle Coco Chanel herself in February 1955 (the numerical moniker serves as the month and year of its creation). In the 1980s, Chanel Creative Director Karl Lagerfeld decided to pay homage to the bag with a few modern amendments, and the Classic Flap was born.
Fendi Baguette Logo-Print Shearling Shoulder Bag ($2690)
Fendi's Baguette served as cheeky bit on the sartorial side when it came to be in 1997. The brash clasp and short shoulder strap were the archetype of '90s style and offered respite from the more formal designer handbags of the time. An appearance on Carrie Bradshaw's arm in Sex and the City secured its place in fashion history.
Loewe Puzzle Small Colour Block Leather Bag ($2450)
Joining the esteemed ranks of Chanel and Hermès is Loewe's cult Puzzle bag. After its debut at the brand's S/S 15 menswear show, it's been on the wish lists of those in the know ever since. It gets its name from the fact it's made from 41 different pieces of leather—a phenomenal amount of work, and that's before we even consider all of the finishing details. As one of the most complex bag patterns around, it's worth every single penny, we'd reckon.
Hermès Vintage Kelly Sellier Bag ($8587)
You'd be forgiven for assuming the Birkin would have made our prestigious list, but we think Kelly is Hermès's unsung hero. Named after screen siren and Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly, it offers a cleaner silhouette to that of the Birkin. While it was initially created in the 1930s, its presence is still felt today—particularly during fashion month, when it's still one of the most spotted bags on the FROW crowd.
Saint Laurent Kate Small Leather Shoulder Bag ($1254)
A favorite among bloggers and celebrities alike, Saint Laurent's monogram bag is the chicest take on logo emblazonment we've seen. The fact it's one of the brand's only pieces that feature the "Y" for Yves just may be the root of its continued success.
Louis Vuitton Neverfull MM Leather Handbag ($1320)
There have been many Louis Vuitton It bags over the years, but few are as coveted—and yet omnipresent—as the Neverfull tote, used as a weekender bag or for work. You'd be hard-pressed to find a fashion follower without one in her arm-candy arsenal.
Chloé Yellow Drew Suede Leather Bag ($1750)
The Chloé Paddington reigned supreme in the early noughties, but hot on its heels is Drew—the crossbody saddle bag that went boom back in 2014 when literally everyone of note had one sling across their torso. Since, it's been remodeled in patchwork, upgraded to heavy-duty metal hardware, and adorned with embellishments. However, we still think it looks its best left as-is…
Kate Spade New York Thompson Street Sam Bag ($279)
Designed in 1993, Kate Spade New York's Sam bag initially appeared in nylon and fast became one of the It bags of the decade. So much so that Anna Wintour is famed for saying she couldn't walk a block in New York without seeing one. The brand officially reissued Sam in January 2018 to mark its 25th anniversary, only for waiting lists to form, proving it's just as relevant today as it was back then.
Miu Miu Matelassé Leather Clutch Bag ($1150)
When Miu Miu launched as the baby-sister brand to Prada in 1993, it was in no way going to conform to the monotonous minimalism of other industry labels. Instead, everything was given a playful spin, and the Matelassé bag is a prime example. The chevron motif was a fresh take on elegant quilting and has since become a signature for the brand—you'll probably recognize it from Miu Miu's perfume bottle, too.
If there's one bag that's blown up in the last few years thanks to just how useful and practical it is for so many, it has to be the Michael Kors Jet Set Tote. What the roomy Jet Set did was make up for the scaling down of many other It bags, and its sweet price point made it accessible to a wider audience.
Gucci Soho Disco Textured Leather Shoulder Bag ($1190)
Let's face it—the last few years have been dominated by Gucci. Its kooky catwalk creations filtered down to mid-market hero pieces with its iconic GG belt and leather loafers, both of which became fashion's most sought-after items almost overnight. As for arm candy, Gucci's Soho shoulder basically became blogger uniform and continues to be a best seller.
Coach Chelsea Hobo Bag ($325)
For all of the more adventurous styles to tempt you in, Coach is actually very good at minimalist bags, and its Chelsea Hobo bag will forever be a quality choice. The double-strap feature coupled with the fact it's roomy enough for your essentials makes it the ideal everyday bag while the sleek, understated logo is worn like a badge of honor.
Celine Large Trio Bag in Smooth Lambskin ($1400)
Chic, practical, and effortlessly stylish. It's little wonder Celine's Trio bag has amassed such a loyal fan base. With three separate compartments connected by poppers, its appeal to the modern woman isn't lost on us. Wear across the body when you're on the clock, and then simply connect the two outer pockets together to create a clutch after dark.
Balenciaga Motorcycle Classic City Leather Bag ($2050)
Originally designed in 2000 by Nicolas Ghesquière, the Motorcycle bag was initially dismissed by his superiors for its lack of shape, which went against the structured bag trends of the time. However, when it finally saw the light of day, the Motorcycle bag proved to be a huge success (probably because it was unlike anything else on the market).
Dior Lady Dior Lambskin Bag ($4180)
The Lady Dior was born in 1994, and it's clear it was destined to become a classic (with a little help from Princess Diana, who carried it religiously). In fact, it was originally named the Chouchou, which is French for "favorite." However, it was renamed in 1996 as a tribute to Princess Di, who was known as Lady Diana Spencer before she married Prince Charles.
Prada Galleria Medium Textured-Leather Tote (£1985)
Okay, so it's technically called the Galleria by Prada, but you may also know it as Saffiano. Saffiano refers to the hardwearing, heat-treated leather from which it's made. The unique hatch pattern increases durability, meaning it's less prone to scratching and is even water resistant. This is the ideal bag for the woman constantly on the go.
This post originally appeared on Who What Wear UK. Up next, shop Gigi Hadid's $40 jeans.