Now that the calendar has officially rolled over into August, young men and women across the country are preparing to head off to college, either for the first time or as season university professionals. Either way, everyone who’s going will need a good, sturdy bag to lug around campus, and we thought we would take this Man Bag Monday opportunity to introduce future and current collegians alike to a half dozen school bags that are also pretty good-looking, in addition to being practical.

If you’re a mother, big sister or girlfriend of a dude who’s headed off to college and you want him to start presenting himself like the adult he’s about to become, sending him off with a great bag as a gift is among the best ways to do it. With that in mind, we’ve picked some basics from accessible brands like Filson and Jack Spade that don’t require a keen fashion sense to appreciate. You can even draw on one of them like a chalkboard.

There aren’t a whole lot of uber-popular bags from the mid-2000s that could make a comeback. Chloe tried to make both the Paddington and Silverado happen again earlier this year, to the excitement of absolutely no one. Fendi doesn’t seem interested in re-introducing the Spy, thankfully, and its Baguette bags have required major embellishments to pique the interests of consumers all over again. Let’s not even talk about the Dior Saddle Bag – I’m pretty sure Raf Simons doesn’t want to, either. That’s to say nothing of the host of popular contemporary bags from the time period that would look like absolute monstrosities by 2013 standards. Somehow, though, the Botkier Trigger Bag, reissued as the Botkier Legacy Satchel, makes it work. (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…)

While I’m fully aware that Rebecca Minkoff makes a full line of handbags that ranges from clutches to weekenders, when I think of the brand, I think of crossbody bags. Perhaps its because my single RM bag is a MAC, or maybe it’s because Minkoff’s crossbodies are ubiquitous among the 20-something denizens of New York City, or maybe it’s just because Minkoff herself understands better than many contemporary designers that these are the types of bags that young women really want to buy. For whatever reason, when I look to judge an RM collection, it’s almost always by its crossbody bags, and that means that the brand appears to be in good shape for Fall 2013.

RM’s fall crossbodies, at least those that have shown up online in the past few days, are a little bit meatier than their previous counterparts, boasting flap tops, front pockets and, in the cast of the Hudson Moto bag, a substantial size increase and a luxurious quilted finish. These three bags all look pretty refined for their price points, and they’ll look at home alongside the richer textures and colors of fall. My favorite, of course, is the all-black Hudson Moto.

Rebecca Minkoff Hudson Moto Mini Bag
$265 via Bloomingdale’s

Rebecca Minkoff Hudson Moto Mini Bag

Rebecca Minkoff Hudson Moto Crossbody Bag
$385 via Neiman Marcus

Rebecca Minkoff Hudson Moto Crossbody Bag

Rebecca Minkoff Perry Moto Bag
$345 via ShopBop

Rebecca Minkoff Perry Moto Bag

Change is rough. Most people resist it, but when it comes to seasonal shifts, there’s not really any dodging the fact that you’re going to have to make some wardrobe changes in the next six weeks or so. It’ll be August by the end of the week, and then you’re just a hop, skip and a jump from September, which is when most parts of the country really start to feel like they might be shifting away from the summer sun. Dressing for changing weather can be tricky, but we’re here to take the guesswork out of choosing a transitional handbag. (more…)

Earlier this week, I came across a great profile of new handbag line Mansur Gavriel by Lauren Sherman over at Fashionista, and the bags were so good – and filled such an obvious gap in the contemporary market – that I couldn’t help but run right over here to share the good news with you guys. If you’ve ever wondered why it’s so hard to find a simple, elegant leather handbag at a non-outrageous, you’re not alone – designers Rachel Mansur and Floriana Gavriel wondered that, too.

I receive multiple press pitches from multiple new handbag brands hoping to get a mention here every day, and to be quite honest, most of them have missed the design mark entirely. The contemporary marketplace has enough slouchy, fringe-y hobos with decorative hardware. What the contemporary market needs is more brands making modern, unfussy bags using the best materials available at the price point – essentially, doing what Hermes or Celine do with their simpler leather bags, but on a more affordable scale. With its first collection, that’s what Mansur Gavriel appears to be attempting to do. The exteriors of the bag are rendered in smooth, neutral leather, while the interiors have a contrasting bright coating. Personally, I’m hoping that future lines expand the bright colors to the exteriors as well.

According to Sherman, all of the bags in the brand’s first collection are made of Italian leather and assembled in China, but there’s good news for those of you who are allergic to those words – as of Spring 2014, the brand will move production of its bags to Italy. Unfortunately, there’s also a bit of bad news. Basically the entire Fall 2013 collection, which ranges from $65 to a phone case to $495 for the bucket bag you see above, is already sold out. It’s not even August. Clearly, there’s a demand for reasonably priced bags that don’t look like they’re made for someone who looks up to Vanessa Hudgens as a style icon. (Clare Vivier’s success should have taught designers that as well.)

When the Spring 2014 bags come around, you’ll be able to shop the line at Net-a-Porter. For now, you’ll have to stalk your favorites at and hope that your local Bird, Madison or Steven Alan boutique might have a couple left in stock.

Handbag transitions can be hard. Not only do colors change from season to season, but so do textures and shapes. All three of those elements combine to give a bag its overall feel, and finding a finished product that can straddle two seasons is no small feat, especially when you don’t have an unlimited handbag budget. If that sounds like a problem you’re trying to solve, look no further than the Diane von Furstenberg 440 Mini Shoulder Bag.

First, the color of this bag is perfect if you’re looking for something to carry literally year-round. It’s somewhere between winter white and beige, with a slightly lighter central panel and a bit of very subtle lizard embossing on the top flap. This is the type of color that mixes well with either cutoffs or a chocolate brown wool coat, and there aren’t a lot of colors of which the same can be said. It’s a fine line to walk.

Then you’ve got shape. Summer is the season of mini bags, and often the same type of tiny purse can look out of place when the weather turns cooler. At 11 inches wide, this bag calls itself “mini,” but that’s only true relative to the satchel from which it takes its name. In reality, this is more of a medium-size shoulder bag that can be carried either as a crossbody or with the chain strap doubled, which means that the feel can be more casual and summer-appropriate or formal and fall-like. Also, the texture of the leather plays into the shape nicely – it’s not too rigid, but structured enough that the bag won’t look like a sloppy summer option that got carried over a little too far into October.

What’s nicest, though, is the price. At $295, this bag barely moves the needle as far as handbag prices go, and for that price, you get a versatile, well-designed bag that’ll be in your rotation well beyond the end of summer. Buy through Net-a-Porter for $295.

In our minds, 3.1 Phillip Lim has been on an accessories roll lately. He won the CFDA’s 2013 Accessories Designer of the Year honor last month, sure, but it might be even more impressive that he’s managed to make me want to buy a camouflage handbag. (Okay, maybe that’s only more impressive to me.) Now, another Lim bag has shot to the top of our collective shopping list, and this time it’s the 3.1 Phillip Lim Ryder Bag. (more…)

As much as I like the trend for holographic handbags (and I really, really like it), the Milly Hologram Demi Tote may have gone a bridge too far, and I bet most of you can guess why that is. I have faith in you guys. You’re smart people. (more…)

I used to be very much anti-camouflage. I remember the trend coming around when I was in high school, and I always felt very clever telling people that I thought camo should be worn by combat troops and No Limit Soldiers only, which is why you’d never find me wearing it. We’re all so cute at that age, aren’t we? As an adult, I’m more open-minded, and Valentino recently proved that camo can indeed be done in a successfully high-end way. Right now, though, we’re pretty interested in 3.1 Phillip Lim’s Camouflage Bags. (more…)

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