It seems like everyone wants a little piece of the exotic bag market these days. Not only has Louis Vuitton recently introduced a full line of crocodile and alligator bags in the past few days, but a Twitter tipster pointed us in the direction of the Tory Burch Robinson Alligator Tote, which we believe to be the most expensive bag Burch has ever produced by a long shot. By about 14,000 long shots, in fact – the next most expensive Burch bag that we know of was right under $1,000. (more…)

We’ve known for a while that exotic handbags would figure prominently in Louis Vuitton’s bid to capture more top-tier accessories customers, and now we’re getting an idea of just how prominent they’ll be. Vuitton has added five new alligator and crocodile bags to its website, including the $31,000 Louis Vuitton Deesse MM Crocodile Tote, the most expensive of the group. The prices, of course, are not surprising (especially compared to Hermes), but the fact that several of the bags are utterly perfect might be.

I don’t use superlatives like that often, but the Desse, which was originally produced in Monogram Vernis, and the Rossmore PM shoulder bag are both seriously stunning odes to luxurious minimalism. Not only do they fit perfectly into the industry’s current aesthetic trends, but they resist the ostentatious branding that has makes many people shy away from even some of LV’s most beautiful pieces. The shoulder bags get a bit of understated hardware engraving, but the totes and the NN 14 bag, first seen on the brand’s Spring 2014 runway, lack any branding that we can see from the company’s stock photos. That sort of restraint, mixed with these best-of-the-best materials, is exactly what Louis Vuitton needs in order to charm the world’s most sought-after luxury consumers.

It’s also interesting that Vuitton has chosen to display (although not sell) these bags on its website. In the past, Vuitton’s most exclusive pieces were kept off of the site’s visual inventory, their existence known only to those who watch the brand closely. Changing public perception means making these kinds of bags visible, right alongside Monogram Canvas. We know which ones we prefer, but our wallets have other ideas. Check out all the colors and shapes, along with price information, below.

On Friday, something interesting was brought to our attention on Twitter – Hermes now has one very particular exotic bag for sale on its website. In our memory, as well as our tipster’s, this is the first time exotic bags have been so widely accessible from the notoriously insular brand, and the Hermes Double Sens Croco Tote it may be an indicator of the inevitable future of luxury shopping.

Hermes has an interesting product category on its website called “Surprise!” that is updated periodically with new pieces that range from breathtaking to oddball. It currently contains a marble horse-head sculpture that retails for over $7,000 and a crocodile mini saddle that will cost you in excess of 20 Gs. Most interesting to us, though, is this simple little reversible tote, covered on one side by either Porosus crocodile or Mississippiensis alligator, depending on the size you choose.

Hermes exotics are beyond legendary, and while the crocodile version of this bag doesn’t quite crack the ceiling to make it the most expensive exotic bag on the Internet (the alligator version, which is smaller, will set you back $26,900 to the larger crocodile’s $38,000), the presence of this one for sale online, directly from the brand, represents another step forward in the luxury business’ tentative embrace of online shopping. With Forbes reporting that online sales saw a significant spike while brick-and-mortar sales lagged this holiday season, the writing may be on the wall for even the most staid of designer brands.

The iconic French design house has long offered a limited selection of its products for sale on its website, but like Louis Vuitton, Hermes has always kept the exclusive pieces off the Internet. Although this bag’s online presence is likely a result of its basic design, and products in the “Surprise!” section generally don’t stick around for long, that Hermes would offer a piece from its most exclusive product category on its website says a lot about where the industry is headed.


Hermes Double Sens Chiffon PM Bag
$26,900 via Hermes

Hermes Double Sens Chiffon PM Bag Grey

Hermes Double Sens Chiffon PM Bag
$26,900 via Hermes

Hermes Double Sens Chiffon PM Bag Green

Hermes Double Sens Chiffon GM Bag
$38,000 via Hermes

Hermes Double Sens Chiffon GM Bag

If you’ve been aware of designer handbags for more than, say, the past day or two, you’ve seen your fair share of black and white bags. The sharp, modern color combination fits perfectly with the backlash against uber-trendy neons, prints and embellishments, which at times all appeared together on the same bag. (Of course, leave it to fashion to combat trend culture with a new trend.) Seemingly every designer under the sun has tried their hands at the look, but a relative handbag newcomer has beaten almost all of them with the Narciso Rodriguez Mixed-Media Envelope Shoulder Bag. (more…)

If I had to pick a handbag brand to categorize as perpetually underrated, it would be VBH. The brand turns out handbags in both regular leather and exotics that are consistently subtle, elegant and totally luxurious, and unlike similarly priced bags from more famous brands, you’re not going to buy one of these and then immediately realize that four people in your social circle already have it. Finding something fresh in fashion feels harder every day, but VBH’s bags never cease to provide that for me. I don’t get tired of looking at them, and now there’s a fresh crop of Spring 2014 bags up for pre-sale at Moda Operandi for our admiring pleasure.

The collection includes bags ranging from woven fabric to ultra-luxe crocodile, and for me, the real standouts are (of course) the exotics. Not only are the croc bags predictably beautiful, but VBH’s use of lizard is outstanding. (Lizard, like VBH, is woefully under-appreciated in the accessories world.) Check out our favorite ultra-pricey pieces from the collection below or shop the full selection via Moda Operandi.

Jason Wu’s gorgeous, ladylike read-to-wear collections are always a joy to behold, but I’ve been waiting for the young designer to put out a handbag that really catches my eye. For reasons that are likely obvious, the Jason Wu Jourdan Painted Eel Tote is exactly that bag. Wu’s previous bag collections have been full of pretty, simple pieces that were nice but not bold or modern enough, and this tote solves those problems at one fell swoop.

Before I read the name of the bag, I thought that Wu and his team had simple chosen a geometric colorblocked pattern and run with it. When you look closely, though (or, uh, read the name), you can see that the colorblocking is actually dictated by narrow strips of eel. Eel skin is an under-used exotic, and it imparts a texture that’s subtler than stingray or most types of snakeskin. It also doesn’t boost the price tag as much as those materials, something we all can appreciate.

I’d be interested to see this bag in just black and white, but as it is, the addition of deep violet and gold add a bit of a royal quality to the structured, elegant tote. I’m not sure I love the hanging tag in the middle, but that’s a signature Wu detail that I’ve been skeptical of from the beginning. If you could have this bag in any color combination, what would you pick? If this one’s already idea for you, pick it up for $2,195 via Neiman Marcus.

I’m not one who usually buys lotto tickets; in fact, I’ve only done it twice in my life before now, but when I realized the Powerball jackpot had swelled to $600 million, I totally got in on that. It’s easy to see why so many people love to buy lotto tickets – that slight feeling that you just might win is enough to get you excited.

Not only did I not win, but I didn’t even get one number right. Some man in Florida won it all, and it’s so insane to think of going from having whatever amount of money you have to being an extravagantly wealthy multi-millionaire over night. But if I were to have won that insane amount of money, I definitely would have bought this bag from The Row.

Everyone is aware of the much talked-about The Row Alligator Backpack, and while I actually like that bag, I know I’d find much more use out of The Row Alligator Drawstring Bucket Bag.

This bag is super chic, the glazed alligator skin looks entirely luxe and the color really is eye-catching. The pairing of a downtown aesthetic with an uptown material makes this bag one that I entirely covet. It looks like perhaps the Powerball winner had the same idea and bought the bag already, because it is currently sold out. Price is $29,000 via Barneys.

Until I saw the Balenciaga Serpent Arena Classic Work Bag, it had never occurred to me that I hadn’t ever seen a snakeskin Bal Motorcycle bag. After all, the design has been around in one incarnation or another for over a decade, and we’ve seen it in everything from straw to crocodile – surely there had been at least a python version, right? Well, according to my research, only the Papier bags have come in snakeskin, none of the classic Motorcycle styles. In light of that, it seems like it’s about time that Balenciaga got a little serpentine.

Snakeskin isn’t as thick or rigid as exotics like crocodile and alligator tend to be, so it automatically lends itself well to the slouchy, soft structure of the Motorcycle bags. Instead of python, this design uses narrow panels of elaphe snakeskin, which isn’t considered as luxurious as python but does offer rows of small, neat, uniform scales that have charms unto themselves. The bag is trimmed in standard Moto black leather, and the black-on-grey combination seems particularly appropriate from new creative director Alexander Wang. This collection wasn’t designed under his oversight, of course, but Balenciaga fans can likely expect to see more bags like this one in the future, if Wang’s past work for his own brand is any indication. Buy through Barneys for $3,350.

In scouring the Internet for our article on the Internet’s most expensive luxury handbags, one thing became clear: even if a brand doesn’t do much to actively promote its most expensive pieces, almost all of them have those bags waiting in the wings for the right client. Under previous creative director Stefano Pilati, Yves Saint Laurent was one of the brands that mostly dealt in regular leather, with an occasional snakeskin or ostrich bag here and there. Under Hedi Slimane, that (along with so many other things) appears to have changed with the Saint Laurent Alligator Cabas.

First, a general note: It’s not entirely clear what Slimane intends for this redesigned version of the Cabas ChYc to be called. SSENSE, which carries this alligator version (the most expensive Cabas ever, by our calculations), calls it the Chyc Tote. Net-a-Porter calls the leather version the Cabas Classique. Neiman Marcus has it as the Y Ligne bag. The Saint Laurent web store pretends the bag doesn’t exist entirely, along with any other design that isn’t a complete Slimane original. For a brand as concerned with a stark rebranding effort as Saint Laurent, you’d think this would have already been settled. At least one thing is certain, though: Slimane intends to take the brand’s accessories in an even more expensive direction than before.

Oddly, it’s one of his decisions that makes the most sense. Consumer interest in handbags at the top price tier of the market continues to grow, especially in Asia, and Saint Laurent has the name recognition to make that buying decision seem less risky. I’m also of the (apparently minority) opinion that the new, sleeker Cabas ChYc is an aesthetic improvement on its predecessor, and this alligator version takes full advantage of its simplified lines. What we have here is definitely the most exciting bag to come out of the brand since Slimane’s arrival, although I’m not sure it’s such a compliment to say that when the bag in question is a simple, black alligator tote based on the work of his predecessor. Buy through SSENSE for $29,500.

By now, some of you have likely read Friday Night Lights author Buzz Bissinger’s instantly infamous GQ piece on his Gucci leather shopping addiction. (If you haven’t and you’re interested, you should read it, but be warned, the whole thing takes a bit of a strange turn circa page four.) I’ve known a few people with compulsive shopping issues in my time in fashion, but Bissinger’s story caught my attention because, for him, it all started online and eventually mushroomed into a half-million dollar habit. But how much damage can you really do with online shopping? As it turns out, quite a bit – we searched out the Internet’s most expensive handbags, and with these kinds of pieces, it wouldn’t be hard to blow through a couple hundred grand in an afternoon, let alone in a year or two. (more…)

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