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.
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.