When Cleobella handbags come up, I brace myself for something very hippie-esque. So, today, I was a bit surprised when I came across a recent Cleobella design.

To be honest, at first glance, I thought this bag had some kind of metallic element going on.

The thing that irritates me the most is when a bag manages to do one thing wrong that ruins the whole design for me. As they say in sports, sometimes a bag manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

I think it is fair to say that one of the on going debates around here involves fringe. While some of you love it, others can’t stand it and still others (like myself) go back and forth.

I said a lot of not-so-nice things about Cleobella when I first started reviewing the brand’s bags last year (and believe me, the things I thought and then decided to keep to myself were even less nice), but somewhere along the way, the brand managed to makes little tweaks here and there to its boho aesthetic and turn itself into a brand that I almost always like.

The Cleobella Ikat Tote has been on ShopBop for a little while, and it was recently restocked after selling out its first stock. And that’s what really got me thinking about it – I had dismissed it before, but if so many people had embraced it, then I figured there must be something to it.

Just yesterday, I wondered if maybe a sequin-covered Alice + Olivia hobo was a little too much shine for any one person to pull off. As it turns out, the problem wasn’t the number of sequins – it was the details of the design.

The Cleobella Alive Fringe Tote looks like someone chewed it up and spit it out.

In a glutted contemporary bag market, a black leather hobo with a circa-$500 price tag can be a tough sell if it comes from anyone but your absolute favorite brand. Most women likely have a bag with a similar description in their closets already, and those who don’t probably have a favorite brand from whom they’re predisposed to buy.

I’m generally not much of a fan of Cleobella’s bags – they’re very haute-boho with sometimes not enough emphasis on the ‘haute,’ and that’s not my style. In the face of the fannypack abomination that we recently witnessed, however, I’ve come up with something of a fresh perspective on the brand and on the Cleobella Cantina Minibag in particular.

Cleobella is the answer for boho recessionistas looking for a trendy-but-broken-in bag, one that’s of a certain quality. Their prices are generally low, as far as designer bags are concerned, and the leather is always what I like to call “Williamsburg-worn.” That is, the leather has that worn look favored by alternative hipsters one often runs into in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.