Leave it to Anya Hindmarch to find a way to combine metallics and lots of woven leather without being over-the-top, gaudy, or flashy. That she was able to do it at all is impressive, and that she was able to do it in such a sophisticated, usable way is even more so.

Anya Hindmarch Bowery Bag

This bag would make a great everyday bag for cold weather – the gold wicker-weave pattern is beautiful and would coordinate with virtually any outfit, and the black trim looks supple and soft. In my past experience, Hindmarch’s woven bags are just as soft as any of her regular creations, so I wouldn’t worry about this one being rigid or rough in person. I have kind of a general aversion to hobos that have flap closures because I think it makes the bag’s contents harder to access without taking them all the way off my shoulder, and I wish this bag’s strap was a tad longer, but those are both flaws I can overlook because the general look of the bag is so successful. It’s not quite flashy enough for my personal taste, but if anyone out there is looking for a stylish, structured shoulder bag without lots of external branding, this is the best choice I’ve seen lately. Buy through Saks for $1350.

Ted Rossi Screw HoboI’ve mentioned this phenomenon both here and on PurseBlog Savvy, and I’m surprised that I haven’t seen it written about on many other fashion websites, but the Fall handbag collections are making it obvious: black is back. Big black bags (BBBs), small black bags, any kind of black bags – they’re everywhere and in a variety of looks. Industrial details seem to be the prevailing trend among them, though, and all I can say to that is HALLELUJAH. Black bags with industrial hardware and finishing are among my favorite looks of all time, and there have been so many to choose from in the past week or so that I almost don’t know what to write about next.

But what I’m writing about now is the Ted Rossi Screw Hobo. It’s a clean, simple design, as most of Rossi’s are, but the small details and exceptional materials make it special without need for extra complication. The bag is made entirely of super-soft, matte black lambskin, which means it’s probably the most wonderful and supple thing upon which you or I have ever put our hands. Soft black leather is all it takes to convince me, but they gave us the extra bonus of modern, dark silver oversized screw heads at the base of each handle, which gives the bag an industrial edge without being overpowering or too costume-y. You could wear it to a Nine Inch Nails concert or to the mall with your girlfriends, and a bag that can fit in at two such divergent events is one that I absolutely need in my closet. Plus, for all that lambskin, the price isn’t bad at all. Buy through Singer22 for $948.

Costume National Ruched HoboFew people love a slouchy bag more than me. In my own handbag collection, I mostly eschew structure in favor of soft, slouchy, slightly bohemian shoulder bags and oversized clutches. I worship soft, wearable leather.

Which makes the Costume National Ruched Hobo all the more disappointing to me – this is a bag I could have easily loved if the design had been decent at all. But it’s not – instead, it’s just really awkward. Although it’s a hobo, the body of the bag protrudes unreasonably far up past where the handles are attached, creating a weird pooch of material above where you would expect the bag to stop. It breaks up what could have been a clean but slouchy line and makes the bag look a little home-sewn, to borrow a phrase from Project Runway. The black iteration of this bag is somewhat less expensive (probably because black is a color notorious for being flaw-friendly), but the dark brown does nothing but highlight the considerable number of design issues we have here. I’m all for avant garde, but this is just ill-conceived. Buy through Saks for $1125.

Burberry Metallic Leather HoboAs we wait for Fall 2009 bag collection to slowly (really slowly) hit stores, some collections are bound to come out earlier than others. In the past few days, a number of new Burberry bags have been popping up around the Internet, so if you see a lot of them in the near future, that’s why.

One of my favorites of the new crop is the Burberry Metallic Leather Hobo. It’s well-documented that dark silver or pewter is my favorite of all the metallics and probably my favorite neutral, and this is a great example. It has a great shimmer without being too shiny and over-the-top like lighter silvers can tend to be, and it would work well in any kind of weather. Also, I’m usually very anti-logo, but I think the way that Burberry subtly embossed their signature plaid into the soft leather is really creative – it gives the bag a bit of branding and visual interest all wrapped in one. If you’re looking for a slightly glam neutral for fall, I’d go ahead and pick this one up. Buy through Nordstrom for $1795.

Chloe Heloise HoboChloe always sticks out in my mind as a brand that takes a hit handbag and makes as many variations to cash in as humanly possible. Not that I blame them – if you’ve created something good, you have every right to reap the benefits of that. Let the haters hate – It Bags don’t design themselves, after all.

Another reason that I sometimes like when Chloe does this is that occasionally I like the derivative bags better than I like the original. I think that’s the case with the Chloe Heloise Hobo. I wasn’t a huge fan of the original Heloise satchel, but this? This I kinda like. I’m partial to hobos in the first place, the the knotted strap and pieced body give it just enough visual interest to not be boring, and it seems more functional in this configuration than as a satchel. I’m a little meh on the color, but we all know how I feel about neutrals. This is a fairly interesting shade for a beige, though – it’s a little grey, a little cream, it’s kinda nice. Look at me, liking neutrals. I guess there’s a first time for everything. Buy through Saks for $1595.

Christian Louboutin Marianna HoboI really wish that I liked Christian Louboutin bags. I really WANT to like them. I like the brand’s shoes quite a bit, probably more so than any other well-known brand. But more often than not, whenever I see one of their bags, my gut reaction is decidedly “meh.” And that’s exactly what I think about the Christian Louboutin Marianna Hobo.

The bag isn’t BAD, per se, unless you count blandness among the cardinal design sins. It’s just boring, and I’d almost rather see an ugly bag with a lot of personality than a middling bag with very little. This bag does have one positive design aspect, however – the handle. Instead of being a single chain that must support the weight of an entire shoulder bag, Louboutin attached multiple chains side-by-side to retain the industrial look without making the bag painful to carry. It’s a great solution to the irritation of a single chain strap digging into your shoulder under the weight of a full bag, but it doesn’t sacrifice fashion in order to gain function. Now if only I could say such nice things about the rest of the purse. Buy through Saks for $1595.

Yves Saint Laurent Deerskin HoboI’m in a big Yves Saint Laurent mood lately, and I’m not sure why. Normally, I like things that are a bit weirder, a bit flashier, or just a bit more unexpected. Which is not to say that YSL is boring, but their aesthetic is normally just a bit more tailored and simple than my own.

I keep finding YSL bags that I really like in the past couple of weeks, however, and the Yves Saint Laurent Deerskin Hobo is the most recent. I even like the shade of almost-chocolate brown that they used, which is exceptionally odd for me, and possibly means that I need to lay down for a moment. But it seems like it would be usable in most people’s wardrobes (if not my own, which is exceptionally heavy in black) for a variety of occasions and for most of the year. The seaming at the ends gives the bag a slightly more interesting shape than your average small hobo and the small chain elements to the handle add a bit of visual interest as well. All in all, another solid effort from YSL. Buy through Bluefly for $895.99.

Botkier Venice Hobo Botkier bags have been a longtime favorite of the Purse Blog team. There is a category for them on Purse Blog savvy which they so deserve but I still want to talk about them on Purse Blog sometimes as well. Amanda already covered the Botkier Venice Hobo on PB Savvy and now I am here on Purse Blog to share my love of this bag with you as well.

Let the lusting begin. The Botkier Venice Hobo is designed with smooth supple leather. The leather from Botkier is amazing, this I can attest to. Ample front zippers and tassels add an extra dimension that looks super chic. The hobo will fit perfectly under your arm and not rub right under your arm with the 9″ drop. All sorts of pockets are on the inside for storage as well, a zip and three open pockets. And this hobo is extra roomy, dimensions are 16″W X 13″H X 2½”D. I love this bag. A yellow version for $595 at Nordstrom is available (they have a magnificent yellow hue) or opt for black or caramel (which is my pick) at Saks for $595.

The first thing that struck me about the Jimmy Choo Lucy Hobo was the name – Lucy! My parents have a seven-month-old English Bulldog puppy named Lucy that is just about the most adorable and aggravating little thing in the world, and whenever I hear the name I think of her. That’s neither here nor there, but everyone loves a puppy, right?

Jimmy Choo Lucy Hobo

As far as the bag goes, I find it a little aggravating as well. I like the idea, and I like the theory behind the leather’s finish – what I don’t like is the execution. The stamped pattern and shininess seem a little too glam for the color, shape and hardware that were used. When I think about a brown bag, I want something casual with a soft, maybe even slightly rugged, finish. I want the leather too look like it’s been worn in and worked like a baseball glove, and what Jimmy Choo has done here just doesn’t seem quite right to me. Keep the hardware, keep the color, keep the hobo shape, maybe make the body of the bag a little larger, and lose the stamping and shiny finish. The flap is a little big and triangular, but that’s kind of a minor point. Follow that prescription, and they’d have a mighty fine bag indeed. Buy through Net-a-Porter for $1495.

Katherine Fleming Bradbury HoboExcuse me for a moment while I gush a bit.

Black hobos are largely boring. Take a general-use bag shape, combine it with a neutral color and expected material, and usually you get something without much personality or style. One of the hardest things to do in fashion is to take a basic and make it even the least bit extraordinary, and I think that that may be what the Katherine Fleming Bradbury Hobo is. It’s a black hobo with just enough personality to be stylish and interesting, and the patent trim is unique enough that people will notice it without being so gaudy that it makes the bag look cheap. Also, it avoids a pitfall that a lot of bags with flashy trim unfortunately don’t – the main leather on the bag doesn’t look like an afterthought. It’s smooth, soft-looking, and looks like it would be nice enough to carry a bag without any fun extras. But in this bag, you get the best of both worlds, and you also get a neutral bag with lots of personality – a rare find indeed. Buy through Barneys for $1550.

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