We talk about this from time to time, but there is perhaps nothing more difficult in handbag design than creating an attainably priced bag that looks as conspicuously expensive as the ultra-premium bags that contemporary customers lust after. Someone willing to pay $500 for a purse is likely well aware of what a $1,500 bag looks and feels like, after all, which creates an extraordinary balancing act for designers who come in at a three-figure price point. Perhaps no one is making that balancing act look easier right now than Z Spoke Zac Posen.
I’ve been trying to figure out why the handbags from Posen’s newly relaunched little sister line are so good ever since we wrote about this particularly gorgeous black and silver satchel, and as far as I can tell, it might be because Zac Posen, as a label, doesn’t make premium designer bags at the moment. As a result, the company doesn’t have any particular necessity to keep the highest-end looks aesthetically separate from the contemporary bags but still has all the design talent of a well-funded design house. That seems to lead to a set of expensive-looking, exceedingly modern day bags and clutches, none of which currently retail for over $600 and all of which incorporate the key design elements of the moment’s most successful bags. There’s a definite Celine influence here, of course, but you could do a lot worse than a well-designed Celinesque bag for $500. Check out our favorites from Fall 2013 below or shop the full range at Neiman Marcus.