Three months ago, when pandemic related lockdown protocols were put into place, small brands everywhere took a huge economic hit. Suddenly many businesses found themselves close to collapse and ecosystems of artists, creators, and designers were struggling to make ends meet. It was then that I decided to switch gears and put my money towards supporting small indie brands while I still had some discretionary income.
I shared with you some of my favorites in the 10 Bag Brands That Need Your Support round up back in March. Now I'm back with a few mini reviews on some of my favorite pieces so far, with the hope of introducing some new, cool brands to the community, and providing helpful insight to make sure you find the right one for you!
For each review I tried to capture an overall shot, a shot with my admittedly massive phone—an iPhone XS Max—for size reference, and a close up detail shot of the material. Let's go!
This has been one of my go-to bags recently, as I love the pop of color it offers and its retro vibe really works with my wardrobe. The long handle sits comfortably on my shoulder without slipping and the body is generally lightweight. It also has a super handy magnetic closure.
Another plus for me is that this bag has no branding or logos on the outside, making it perfect for when I want something a little more subtle to complete my look. The only reason this bag didn't score a higher rating is the material.
To be fair, the material is responsible for that great "moire" effect that gives the bag such interesting visual character, but it also is prone to snagging. In general I tend to steer away from fabric bags because of this issue, but I thought the bag was reasonably priced and decided to take the risk.
This bag also comes in vegan leather with great textures like embossed snakeskin and lizard which I would love to try in the future, but I think ultimately a genuine leather option would really make this bag for me. So far this is the only style this brand offers, but they are still very new and I am looking forward to seeing this brand grow and expand their options.
Panache - Croissant Bag ($145)
Gluten free arm candy anyone? I love bread, and I also love bags, a match made in heaven! I was first introduced to this brand when a friend of mine purchased a little green baguette bag with a baguette hand painted onto it. After that I began to follow Panache on Instagram, eagerly awaiting a fresh batch of bags to come out of the oven.
Unfortunately for me, the first time I attempted a purchase I took too long to decide on a style and they all sold out. So if you're considering adding one of these bags to your collection my best advice is to act fast as they go quickly. Now that I've secured my carb-less cutie we can talk details.
One thing to consider with this brand is that the bags are up-cycled, and may show signs of being pre-loved, but with that being said my bag came with no visible signs of wear. Another thing to note is that not all the bags are leather, which is something I wish I paid more attention to when purchasing. It's also why I gave my particular bag less stars than I would have otherwise.
Another issue I have with my particular bag is that though the outside dimensions indicate that it should easily hold my phone, the way the bag's compartments and lining are sewn in makes it difficult to easily get it in and out with its case on. Despite these issues, I love this bag, and have even spoken with Panache about a possible custom piece in the near future. If you're looking to support a small, reasonably priced, eco-friendly, business with a personal touch, look no further!
Amelie Pichard - Baby Bag ($653)
This bag has been one of my favorite purchases this year. I've been a Pichard fangirl for a few years, and I finally decided to invest in one of her bags. I chose the "Baby Bag" because it has the option of both a crossbody and a top handle, which is important to me because though I mainly hand hold my bags, I still need a hands free option when going about my day to day tasks.
I also like having the interwoven strap as an option, as it feels easy to dress up or tuck away when wearing it casually. She has a few different styles, all very thoughtfully designed; there's truly something for everyone's carrying preference.
Additionally, she offers a variety of colors, materials, and patterns to choose from, I picked the "eel" (usually it's actually hagfish) because of the unique texture and surprising durability. So why not a 5 star? Well the bag is just barely too small to fit my phone with its case on comfortably. If I get it at the right diagonal angle, I can get it in - though nothing else will fit.
Unfortunately this really limits how often I can wear the bag, especially because I mostly wear dresses and skirts in the summer and those tend to not have pockets. Overall I think her pieces are great quality, and at a reasonable price-point. So if you are looking to add something playful and unique to your collection without spending thousands or sacrificing quality, definitely look into Pichard.
This little bag is like nothing else in my collection, it's sparkly, pearly, and vibrant all at once. The bag's body is made from a metallic, raspberry colored, crochet with pastel pink pearls throughout. And it gets better, my favorite thing about this bag is that it has a matching pearl handle! A huge plus is that the bag is lined and has a drawstring closure for extra security.
If I was rating this bag on character alone, I would give it five stars. Though with that being said there are some practical issues with this bag that make things a bit complicated. Like a few of the other bags in this article, my phone does not entirely fit in this bag. The top of my phone peeks out of the bag's opening, making the drawstring unusable. Another issue I have is with the size of the handle, as it's just not wide enough to fit in the crook of my arm, so unfortunately this bag has no hands-free option.
My last issue is the crochet aspect of this bag, which is a bit of a double edged sword. I love how it makes this piece lightweight and gives these bags such unique character, but at the same time I've found myself getting caught on things very easily. Thankfully the bag hasn't been snagged or torn, but I do find myself babying the bag when I wear it out. With all that being said, if you're looking for an everyday workhorse then this is probably not the bag you want. However if you're craving a quirky bag that's fun to style, at a reasonable price, go for this one.
DLYP - Pleated Bender Mini ($499)
This brand came onto my radar last year, as I was attracted to its rich use of texture and unique, untraditional shapes. Although this brand shares the same designers as Deadly Ponies, DLYP has a more creative vibe and experiments more with their bag's structures and materials. The most impressive thing about this brand is that they didn't let cool, edgy designs get in the way of quality and usability.
I purchased the Mini Pleated Bender in Pewter Python and it has been one of my favorite bags to wear lately. The quality, especially for the price point, is really impressive. The outside of the bag is made from a python embossed goatskin, which is one of my favorite leathers due to its hearty nature and lovely sheen. They managed to recreate the texture of snakeskin by embossing little scales that individually lift ever so slightly and reflect light independently—like the scales of real python. The texture was so convincing I had to look at the bag up close to see that was indeed the case.
The bag keeps its structure well and can be carried multiple ways. It comes with a crossbody strap so you have a hands free option and the attachment loops are inside the bag, so if you want to use a strap of your own you easily can. On that note, the bag itself is generally hardware-less, aside from the brass studs on the strap that don't show on the outside. It has very little branding, just a small gold foil heat stamp in the top left hand corner. The bag is lined; half in goat skin and half in alcantara (like a faux suede), and it even features a built in card holder.
It easily fits my phone and the only issue I have is that I find the strap really difficult to get on and off. Every time I attempt to put the crossbody strap back on, the stud gives me a lot of resistance. It makes it really hard to just put the strap on and go when you're in a hurry. This discourages me from wanting to take it off, even though that's how I wear it the least.
I think I would prefer a clasp style attachment instead of the stud style fasteners, but with that being said I do recognize that would up the bag's price point. These bags are solid, and I already have the Maxi Pleated Bender on my wishlist so this will not be my last DLYP bag!
If you would have any questions on these bags feel free to let me know in the comments below!