I just love it when a European retailer comes stateside. Not only does it make shopping more convenient for me and my fellow Americans, but it brings a more diverse point of view into the marketplace – European luxury retail buys tend to include quirkier, riskier items than those from US companies, so the selections often offer a little bit of attitude that’s harder to put your hands on in American department stores. That’s why I’m so excited that MATCHESFASHION.COM, one of my favorite UK retailers, has finally launched a site for US customers!

Americans have been able to shop through Matches’ UK portal for a while (and I have the Acne boots to show for it), but this new site will make it easier for us Yanks to access Matches’ signature brand of luxurious British cool. Perks will include faster, easier shipping within the US, free returns on every order and a dedicated customer service line that keeps US hours. With a slew of brands ranging from Valentino to Givenchy, that (plus Matches’ famous printed packaging) might be all the encouragement you need to take the new site for a spin. If that’s not enough, US customer will get free shipping on every order through September 30th with code USAFREE at checkout.

Shop the site now and let us know what you think! Also, are there any other international shopping sites that you wish would increase their US profile?

We’ve long lamented the dearth of reasonably priced handbag lines with a modern look, and lately, our prayers have begun to find answers. First Mansur Gavriel came along, with its elegant, understated line of functional handbags and totes, and now we’ve found KARA Handbags, a young line that just got picked up by ShopBop. If you lust after Celine, Alexander Wang and 3.1 Phillip Lim but want to splurge on something under $500, meet your new favorite brand.

The New York-brand, which was named after karaoke, was founded by Parson’s grad Sarah Law in 2012. Fall 2013 is the brand’s second full collection, and it covers urban-trendy ground from mini crossbodies to minimalist backpacks in leather and shearling, rendered in a limited palette of black, burgundy, tan and lavender. The implementation of shearling, which is generally a material with which accessories designers have some trouble, is particularly well done. Resort 2014, which can be seen on the brand’s website, promises of-the-moment delights like marbled calf hair that can generally only be found on handbags much, much more expensive. Not only are the bags generally much more expensive-looking and well-designed than anything else in the price range right now, but all your friends will want to know where you found such a cute bag. Get in on the action while KARA is still under the radar by checking out our picks below or shopping ShopBop’s fall selection.

It’s long been clear that everyone from reality TV stars to the privileged daughters of billionaires thinks that they can design super-expensive handbags, and now it’s time to add another name to the non-intuitive list: Bentley Motors. That’s right, the world-famous maker of ultra-premium autos has decided to try its immaculately gloved hand at the whole handbag thing, to varying results.

Bentley isn’t the first car brand to delve into leather goods – Ferrari has been making questionably tasteful men’s bags for quite some time – but to my knowledge, this is the first women’s luxury handbag line to come from such a crossover. The first collection, which consists of two bags in a range of colors, is priced at $5,500 and $7,000, which puts the brand new line in competition with such old-guard masters as Hermes and…well, Hermes. Unfortunately, the bags don’t quite live up to the refined Hermes aesthetic.

According to Women’s Wear Daily, Bentley hired Frenchman Vincent du Sartel, who has previous experience in accessories design at Loewe and Louis Vuitton, to initiate the line. Unsurprisingly, the designs are said to take inspiration from the curves and fine materials used in Bentley’s cars, which Bentley reports are increasingly popular with women over the past few years. These bags are, apparently, a nod to those newly minted customers, and they’ll initially be sold at trunk shows and events that those types of women might frequent, including car shows.

Although I don’t doubt that the materials used in these bags are wonderful – why would the brand stake a hard-earned reputation for perfection on anything less? – the execution leaves something to be desired. The collection, perhaps predictably, leans just a touch too sporty. That wouldn’t necessarily be a problem, except that the details feel masculine, like they were simply added to a few women’s bag shapes with little aesthetic adaptation. The winged Bentley logo, in particular, feels inappropriate and a bit cheap in this context, no matter how nice it looks on the hood of a car.

The bags simply don’t feel current or feminine – if some of the same details were incorporated into a briefcase, they’d probably feel more contextually relevant. Classic briefcases, unlike $7,000 women’s handbags, aren’t beholden to modern aesthetic whims, and the masculine automotive details (the cars that formed the basis of the bags’ inspiration were designed with male customers in mind) wouldn’t seem so disconnected from the intended customer. Better luck next time, Bentley.

Alice + Olivia’s signature brand of exuberant girlishness has been delighting the brand’s many fans for years, but for that whole time, something very important has been missing: handbags. Obviously that’s a gap in the brand’s product line that really hit us right in the heart, so we’re pretty pleased to tell you that Alice + Olivia handbags are now available for your ordering pleasure.

Like any inaugural handbag line, the brand has some design kinks to work out here and there, but the marquee design, the big-but-not-too-big Alice + Olivia Olivia Satchel is a good place to start, as are the simple fold-over clutches. Perhaps most impressively, many of the bags in the line’s first collection are rendered in printed calf hair, which is usually a material that drives up the price of a design. Even with plenty of calf hair, though, none of the bags exceed $600. My favorite is the black-and-white spotted duffel at the top end of that range; the only serious misstep is…well, look through the options below and I’m sure you can spot it. Alternately, you can shop the brand via Neiman Marcus.

If Hermes’ continually increasing profitability and Louis Vuitton’s recent shift toward capitalizing on its history with more high-end, all-leather products is any indication, the ultra-high-end leather goods market seems to have a nearly infinite hunger for heritage goods, and French heritage in particular. To help meet that voracious need for fancy purses, 19th century French leather brand Moreau has relaunched and its bags are exclusive to Barneys in the US.

French design and craftsmanship have always been markers of quality and status in fashion, and that’s why those brands are having such a moment right now. Not only are high-end western costumers constantly looking for something more special, limited and expensive than those behind them who are looking to keep up with the Joneses, but consumers in the burgeoning Asian markets seek out heritage goods as de facto indicators of their newly high social status. Because those Asian markets have become sophisticated more quickly than most, a flashy logo bag won’t do the trick; consumers are increasingly looking for pieces that are exclusive, handmade and include a sense of history on their price tags.

That’s where Moreau comes in. Originally founded in the mid-1800s in France, the brand has been revived, at least in part, to capitalize on its origin story. (There is, after all, only so much heritage to go around. It’s a non-renewable resource.) The brand’s limited, rather simple collection of bags will all be made in France, by hand, in Moreau’s saddlery. The look, as you might expect, recalls some of Hermes’ basics, but in a good way – classic, functional styles that whisper about their pedigree instead of shouting. If you’re the kind of woman whose friends’ closet are already full of Hermes and you want to pick up something new that they’ll actually ask about with curiosity, perhaps one of these Moreau bags is for you.

Moreau Bregançon Zip Tote
$3,100 via Barneys

Moreau Bregançon Zip Tote

Moreau Bregançon Open Tote
$2,890 via Barneys

Moreau Bregançon Open Tote

Moreau Chenonceau Messenger Bag
$3,200 via Barneys

Moreau Chenonceau Messenger Bag

We’ve been awaiting this moment more or less since the day that Alexander Wang was announced as the new creative director at Balenciaga: we now know what Wang’s first flagship bag for the brand, the Balenciaga Le Dix Bag, will look like. If the name sounds familiar to you, it should. (more…)

It’s only been a couple seasons since Brian Atwood launched B Brian Atwood, a reasonably affordable footwear line aimed at contemporary customers and styled like his uber-expensive eponymous line, and it’s been a success, to say the least. Young customers have responded positively to the metallic finishes, vertiginous heels and comfy flats alike, and now Atwood’s taken the next logical step with his baby brand: B Brian Atwood Handbags, which just launched exclusively at Bloomingdale’s. (more…)

It’s rare, perhaps unheard of, that a woman has just one mood in fashion. Even the most ardent devotee of neutrals has an occasional compulsion for a bright color, and even the most formal among us can appreciate a casual look when executed correctly. As a result, our clothing must have many moods, and the iconic Ralph Lauren Ricky Bag just got another one: the Ralph Lauren Soft Ricky Bag rendered in beautiful, pliable calf leather in a rainbow of colors.

The original Ricky, as you probably know, is a structured, elegant option that, although quite versatile in its own right, is best suited to a somewhat upscale or professional environment. A beautiful lunch, a trip to see your broker – the Ricky we all know and love lives up to those tasks with aplomb. It’s the kind of bag that you find yourself reaching to on weekdays, but what about weekends? That’s where the Soft Ricky, which is the newest addition to the line, comes in.

The Soft Ricky, with its slightly taller dimensions and optional shoulder strap, is ever so slightly more casual. The soft calf leather also provides the bag with just a hint of slouch; it’s as though the original design let its proverbial hair down ever so slightly. It’s still a Ricky, though, so the details and construction are still impeccable, if ever so slightly more relaxed. That makes it a perfect everyday bag for summer, a season in which you will hopefully be more relaxed as well. Wear it with the long shoulder strap to strike the perfect balance between sophistication and fun, all with the signature American feel of Ralph Lauren.

The bag comes in a range of colors both bright and neutral, all of which are available for $2,500 via Ralph Lauren and at Ralph Lauren stores.

Ralph Lauren Soft Ricky Bag, Orange
$2,500 via Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren Soft Ricky Bag Orange

Ralph Lauren Soft Ricky Bag, Gold
$2,500 via Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren Soft Ricky Bag Gold

Ralph Lauren Soft Ricky Bag, Purple
$2,500 via Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren Soft Ricky Bag Purple

Ralph Lauren Soft Ricky Bag, Black
$2,500 via Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren Soft Ricky Bag Black 34-15

The Louis Vuitton Neverfull Bag may be one of the brand’s newest classics, but that doesn’t mean LV is in a rush to flood the market with as many different versions as possible. First, there was only monogram canvas, and then came Damier, both Eben and Azur. Today, we’re excited to bring you the first leather version of the ever-popular tote – the Louis Vuitton Epi Leather Neverfull Bag MM.

For the moment, the Epi Neverfull only comes in the medium MM size, which is probably just fine for most shoppers – it’s the most popular of the three options anyway. The initial run of the bag comes in seven colors, ranging from basic black to brights like yellow and orange, and boasts a microsuede interior. The bag retails for $1,990 and is available now, both at Louis Vuitton stores worldwide and LouisVuitton.com. We’d give you a direct link to the product page, but at present, the company’s website isn’t cooperating with our efforts to locate that page. (Or to open at all.) Luckily, we have a bunch of photos of the new bag, in all its colorful glory, below. (Update: Louis Vuitton has provided a link for the Neverfull that works!)

It’s not often that I’m confused by handbags. Not only have I been writing about them (and obsessing over them) for a living for a few years now, but I have all the powers of Google at my fingertips, which means that I can generally clear up any questions I have without any problems. With that in mind, the fact that I can find literally no information about Time’s Arrow Handbags only makes me more intrigued. The fact that the bags are modern, well-priced contemporary staples doesn’t hurt, either.

Seriously, I looked. I searched. I tried domain names that I thought might be helpful, and even called a cryptic phone number that I found on one of them that, in hindsight, didn’t indicate in any way that it was associated with a handbag brand. (No one picked up.) I learned that “Time’s Arrow” is a term somehow associated with the videogame Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and after a short detour to find out if anyone’s made a Zelda iPhone game yet (they haven’t), I decided that the best I could do would be to show you what’s available from Time’s Arrow at Neiman Marcus, which is the place that I first came across the brand’s bags a couple of days ago. There’s some definite Celinespiration going on here, but the brand does a pretty good job pulling it off. In particular, the smooth, flat leather achieves a nicely high-end look that so many brands look for but never quite achieve. Our favorites are below – check out the full selection from this mystery brand at Neiman Marcus.

Time’s Arrow Trilogy Crossbody Bag
$695 via Neiman Marcus

Time's Arrow Trilogy Leather Crossbody Bag

Time’s Arrow Jo Bicolor Pocket Tote
$765 via Neiman Marcus

Time's Arrow Jo Leather Bicolor Pocket Tote

Time’s Arrow Jo Pocket Tote
$765 via Neiman Marcus

Time's Arrow Jo Leather Pocket Tote

Time’s Arrow Infinite Tote
$595 via Neiman Marcus

Time's Arrow Infinite Tote

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