PurseBlog Asks

Which Mid-Range Bag Brand is Your Favorite?

It's time we talked about this!

As much as we’d like to walk into a luxury boutique whenever we want to shop, that’s not the reality for most of us. And while we talk a lot about bags here, which brands we love, which new bags we’re lusting after, and which bag brands are the hottest in the handbag game right now, we often fail to give the contemporary market the love it deserves.

The handbag market is dominated by huge designer brands, with a handful of luxury conglomerates monopolizing the market. However, more affordable handbag brands have increased tenfold in the last decade and a half. Many bag brands fall under the contemporary or mid-range luxury umbrella. As much as we’d like to avoid the obvious, it’s not completely necessary to spend thousands of dollars to get a nice bag.

The OG Contemporary Favorites

Before we dig in, let’s take it back to the early 2010s; Marc by Marc Jacobs, the now defunct diffusion line of Marc Jacobs, was in its heyday, and the indie bag brand boom was just beginning. Then in 2012, New York-based Mansur Gavriel burst onto the scene with a mission of offering consumers a well-crafted, beautifully made bag of quality leather that was simple and available at a reasonable price. The boundary-breaking bucket bag made waves seemingly overnight, paving the way for the contemporary bag brand boom.

Mansur Gavriel’s success was especially notable for a few reasons. Consumers are rarely so easily convinced to place their dollars in the hands of a new brand, but Mansur Gavriel did it with ease. The Bucket Bag became a hit, and editors, celebrities, and fashion-savvy consumers alike had themselves on waitlists and reminders set with every drop to get their hands on one. An It-bag under $800 was nearly unheard of at the time.

Mansur Gavriel Mini Bucket Bag

It-Bags for All

Now, 10 years after Mansur Gavriel first hit the scene, the contemporary market shows no signs of slowing down. There are options at many price points that are worth some love and attention. Not to mention, the diversification of the bag market, both on aesthetic and price levels, is wonderful for consumers, especially given the constant price increases among luxury brands and ever-changing trends.

I keep returning to JW Anderson and the various handbag lines he designs. Anderson’s work became more mainstream when LVMH bought a majority stake in 2013, and his offerings expanded further to include handbags. His aesthetic is modern and often a bit sporty, and most of his pieces are wearable. His unique approach is what I love, and the Bumper Bag, which has become a cult-favorite amongst those in the know remains a favorite of mine.

Which contemporary brand is your favorite?

JW Anderson Bumper Bag

JW Anderson Bumper Bag
via MATCHESFASHION
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Kyra
Kyra
11 months ago

For an article allegedly supporting mid-range bags, it could have done a better job in identifying more than 2 (!!) options.

Farhy27
Farhy27
11 months ago

For the most part, seems like the mid-range brands are limited to a few familiar names (read the comments). I wish the purseblog used its platform to introduce new brands that offer unique bags of great quality at a reasonable price so that bag lovers could look for bags beyond the brands we all know.

scbarragan
scbarragan
11 months ago

In Europe, we have a lot of contemporary brands of high quality leather and manufacture. Sometimes, small companies buy the same high quality leather that are extra stocks that were prepared for luxury brand in Spanish tanneries.

It is difficult to mention all, but I can add my favourites among medium and small sized companies: Decadent (Denmark), Iriarteiriarte (Spain, Argentian designer), Frrry (Netherland, great designer with minimal leather cut), Vanveer ( Spain, designer from Netherland, doctorsbag), KAAI (Netherland)….and many more.

I will recommend to any handbag’s enthusiast to explore around local designers, you could find high standards, great quality and manual manufacture in some of the cases.

Kelleypuppy
Kelleypuppy
11 months ago
Reply to  scbarragan

Thank you! Love looking at other brands. Some are so interesting. Love Strathberry, Aspinal and Furla. Would like to find more.

Susana
Susana
11 months ago
Reply to  Kelleypuppy

Something that I appreciate in case of small brands is the unique opportunity to discuss directly with the designer. I have been asking direct questions with my curiosities to a few of them by email. I have got very detailed answers explained around the ” why” of some aspects or processes in their model or the inspiration behind the model or more. This is valuable information for me that are very interested in unique designs and solutions in high quality. That type of information tells you a lot about their knowledge, manufacture, leather quality but also their constraint to produce, maintain competitive prices and running a business.

However, in the case of those contemporary brands, sometimes the quality has been decreasing in parallel to what is happening in most of the luxury brands too. I have for example Furla´s handbags from 20-30 year ago and the leather was amazing and I still use them and looks as great. In particular, Giovanna Furlanetto, now CEO from Furla, has at that time a set of handbag´s model under her name as designer. Those were so beautiful and “clic”, that I missed that she took different role in the company. Unfortunately, I think that the quality offering now is different, a lot of pebbled leather.

The finishing as pebbled of any type are covering the contemporary brands and luxury market. I rather prefer to see the full grain imperfections than the perfect embossed partners offered. I picked just one example now out of any specific intention to illustrate the discussion. I see that Polene is very popular in this contemporary group and range. It is also now offering mainly pebbled leather in most of the models and a minimal piece in natural top grain. Similarly, but in the upper range, if you have a look to Moynat models now, there is barely one or two options made in the grain natural calf leather while most of the offered models are pebbled as the ” carat calf leather”. We can see equivalent movements in the rest of the brands through those type of leathers and covering layers. Sorry, I moved to other discussion that is not directly to the topic but hopefully we can discuss it here in other time.

Kris
Kris
11 months ago

Mansur Gavriel, Strathberry, DeMellier, Aspinal of London, and Polene.

Catherine
Catherine
11 months ago
Reply to  Kris

Second DeMellier! Has anyone heard of Songmont?

Beryl
Beryl
11 months ago
Reply to  Catherine

I have.

Gia
Gia
11 months ago

Coach

HotSundae
HotSundae
11 months ago

JW Anderson, Staud, By Far, and Clare V. I have sentimental love for Mansur Gavriel but in the end I think their leather is quite plasticky, thin and cheap, even for the price point.

Tiffany
Tiffany
11 months ago
Reply to  HotSundae

Ooh I forgot about Clare V. Love their stuff!

Yazi
Yazi
11 months ago

Coach, Polene, Marc Jacobs, Longchamp, and the old classics at Mulberry.

Jaime
Jaime
11 months ago

Polene, Wandler, and some Tory Burch (Lee Radizwill in particular)…but mid range prices are becoming full prices now.

ARuth
ARuth
11 months ago

I expected more from this article..
My favs would be Coach, Staud, Brandon Blackwood, and probably DeMellier, even though I havent purchased yet.

Sunny
Sunny
11 months ago

Some popular french mid-range bags that I see often in Paris: A.P.C., Leo et Violette, Fleuron, Les Ateliers Auguste, and of course Polene that is saturating the scene.

Mopsy
Mopsy
11 months ago

Coach, Aspinal and Mulberry. Interested to try Strathberry next.

Terri
Terri
11 months ago

Primo Atelier and Issey Miyake are definitely my favorite mid-range bags!!

JustOneMore
JustOneMore
11 months ago

So many great mid-range bags, from casual to dinner out. Taxidermy, Maison Margela, Brunello Cucinelli, Roger Vivier, Ferragamo and Burberry are a few of my dressier options. For running around (or rainy days), I can always depend on Coach, Tod’s, Tori Burch and Mulberry. I wanted to like Strathberry and Staud, but the leather wasn’t up to par. Next to try are Polene and Wandler, with gorgeous leather and minimalist design.
Going back in time, Etienne Aigner was THE brand as well as Kieselstein-Cord and Coach. I regret selling my older Coach bags as the vintage leather was sturdier, the styling classic. As well, should have obtained a Hermes (anything) on the past trips to Paris in the 80s and 90s when prices were high but not obscene.

Tiffany
Tiffany
11 months ago

I’m a fan of Polene, Staud, By Far and Hyer Goods.

vnex
vnex
11 months ago

I love Polene. But I really like Mansur Gavriel too.

daveloeweyou
daveloeweyou
11 months ago

I think the same JW Anderson is a great designer, all his bags has something special. And of course, Polene.

Jaders
Jaders
11 months ago

Min&Mon. Quirky fun bags that are something of a conversation starter as people wonder where I got the bag.

adguru
adguru
11 months ago

Hunting Season (hunting-season.com). Well made, leather lining, not a huge range but wearable neutrals. I’d love them more if they included pretty colors. Also, for a well-made classic tote, I’m a fan of Cuyana.

FashionableLena
FashionableLena
11 months ago

Coach, Marc Jacobs, and Tory Burch

J B
J B
11 months ago

I still have some favs in my closet…ClareV, Coach, Tory Burch… sold my last Micheal Kors but always loved the brands designs and quality even the diffusion lines. The bags are classic shapes, minimal hardware and bullet proof.

Ivah
Ivah
11 months ago

I still love my Kate Spade, Coach, Longchamp and MCM bags but I am getting obsessed with Polene bags! They’re so pretty. Any other brands that is similar to Polene?

Isabella
Isabella
11 months ago

I truly appreciate you sharing this article and shedding light on the thriving contemporary market. It’s a reminder that luxury doesn’t always have to come with a hefty price tag.

Mansur Gavriel truly paved the way for contemporary brands with their iconic Bucket Bag. I remember the excitement and waitlists surrounding its releases. It was a game-changer, offering a well-crafted bag made from quality leather at an affordable price. It proved that you don’t need to spend thousands to own a stylish and coveted accessory.

I’m also a big fan of JW Anderson and his unique approach to handbag design.

I’m excited to explore more of these brands and discover new favorites along the way. Thank you for providing us with this valuable information, and keep up the excellent work in showcasing the best in handbag fashion!

Josieverona
Josieverona
11 months ago

Vintage ‘Made in Italy’ Furla, vintage ‘Made in Italy’ Marc Jacobs premium line, vintage Salvatore Ferragamo

Beryl
Beryl
11 months ago

Mlouye, Brandon Blackwood

Jenn P
Jenn P
11 months ago

I’m loving all of these brand suggestions! I have stalked many of them and this will remind me to go back. Sezane and Demaker are two brands that I keep going back to bags of theirs, both shoulder bags simple in design. They look gorgeous and get good reviews! Back in the early days of tPF, I remember Rebecca Minkoff and Hayden Harnett (and another designer that escapes me, I think starts with a B) did collabs with tPF and members could order popular bags with custom features. What a time to be alive!

Lisa
Lisa
11 months ago

Strathberry, Furla, Frances Valentine, Tori Burch

Missdagane
Missdagane
11 months ago

I love Clio Goldbrenner, a Belgian brand. The bags are practical, well made. No logos but a chain mail adorn all the bags and is the emblem of the brand. The bags are recognizable without a fuss. What they call their daily leather is amazing.

Veronica
Veronica
10 months ago

There are so many contemporary brands on the market but I feel like PurseBlog team are not giving them enough exposure! I personally love DeMellier as their quality and customer service are amazing. I also love Longchamp and Tory Burch, all of these which feel like they are not a direct copy replica of something else!