Spring has barely taken hold, but our favorite online haunts are already fully stocked with warm-weather goodies. Every year at about this time, we start planning our beach wardrobes, with include the typical items: swim suit, sunglasses, cover-up and the perfect summery bag. Straw bags gain popularity every summer, and it seems straw has taken center stage for this season’s batch of bags.

While Mother Nature keeps playing with our start to spring, the calendars alerted us that spring arrived a week ago, and with it came a new crop of handbags. One of the biggest trends for spring is fringe, which graced some of our favorite spring runways, and thankfully, those bags are finally hitting stores. Fringe on handbags tends to look very boho, but this season, the trend offers a variety of fringe, from extreme luxury to the perfect festival bag.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you, but over the next month or two, something confusing is going to happen: your favorite brand is going to try to sell you a backpack. Even if you’re not a student. Even, in some cases, if you haven’t been a student in several decades and you thought the designers you prefer knew you wouldn’t ever need one again.

Yesterday was a truly dreary and bitter day in New York City (as they all have been lately, except for Super Bowl Sunday, because Pepsi paid for it to be warm, or something), but because fashion lives in an alternate universe, I was met by nothing but bright, eye-searing neon yellow when I opened up my browser to begin compiling post topics for the week.

If you’re not a person who keeps a tidy handbag, skip this post entirely – you don’t want the world to see the various and sundry receipts, loose change and tampons you have floating around down there. (I know what’s in there because I am guilty as well.) For the rest of you with better cleaning habits than us, clear handbags are back again for one more season of see-through fun.

We briefly touched on the trend of miniaturizing successful bag designs last spring, but now that we’re in the back half of January and it seems like warm weather may one day come again at some indeterminate point in the future, it seems like the number of designers who have decided to make everything tiny has expanded exponentially. In fashion, unlike literally every other facet of human life, the warmth of spring doesn’t make things grow – it makes bags get smaller.

Springtime flowers on fashion pieces are common enough to garner their own Devil Wears Prada reference, but there’s little use in arguing that a good floral can’t bring a smile to the face of most shoppers looking to thaw out from a long winter. As spring deliveries start to arrive at online retailers, it looks like floral bags are set to be even more popular than usual, from delicate embroidered clutches to large everyday totes.

Anyone who’s an active pop culture consumer in 2013 knows that the things that are popular are not necessarily the same as the things that are the best. The two categories are related and often similar, but they’re not the same, and they’re both interesting for different reasons. We’ll be exploring the year’s best bags more thoroughly in January, but right now, we want to talk about The Biggest Bags of 2013.

Every year around this time, the color experts (which I would think were a weird title, if my own title were not “handbag blogger”) at Pantone get together and inform the world of the color we’ll be wearing in the next 12 months, as the result of some trend forecasting and also Pantone’s desire to remind people who are not graphic designers that it exists.

Luxury accessories have an exclusivity problem. Because handbags are generally among a company’s most profitable and marketable product categories, most brands want (and need) to sell them hand over first in order to stay on the seasonal fashion treadmill. That’s a bit tricky, though, because one of the things luxury customers look for most in a new purchase is a sense of exclusivity; how do you sell lots of bags while still making every bag-buyer feel like she’s the only person in the world who has a particular piece?

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