This week, I tried scouring the internet for a small leather wallet that could hold at least two cards and some cash. I wanted something that would force me to carry fewer items, unlike the long-wallet I currently own. Well, folks, one thing led to another, and now I am considering purchasing a handbag, which has now made my nightly searches much longer. I am one picky bitch, as I am now staying up past midnight perusing various brands for the perfect affordable wallet and handbag. Currently, I only own four purses, which to the average minimalist is too much. The oldest is a black Chanel mini flap bag with gold hardware, followed by a small black crossbody Zac Posen Eartha bag; then I have a black Longchamp Le Pliage shoulder bag, which is essentially a collapsible nylon bag. The last bag is a recent purchase as I’ve only had it for two years now. It’s a black YSL Saint Laurent Tote. There is a pattern here with my bags and my shoes, they are always black, usually with gold accessories.
I consider myself a bit of a fashionista in my own right, but I have been conscientious about the type of purses I spend money on in the last eight years. I use to be a Coach and Michael Kors outlet girl, but now I like to take the time to look for items that have a lasting quality, look great, and match my price point, which is usually between $0 to maybe $1,000 at most. Sometimes my bag hunt can cause me six months of indecisiveness and bargain hunting, and I still never bother to make a purchase.
I have leveled up on my style, and in doing so, I came to understand two things. The first is that it’s best to do your research when investing in a bag that is worth upwards of $500.00. Especially if you aren’t living the fabulous Instagram lifestyle. The second thing is that all great bags don’t have to cost thousands of dollars or even $500.
While on the hunt for the perfect wallet and handbag that would last and look good, I came across a few fantastic brands; some are well known, and others have recently fall on my radar. I will start this list with my preferences; these are the brands I have seen incredible items from, and I am currently lusting after.
Allow me to begin this list by first apologizing to all label-whores; there are no Gucci, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Chanel, Prada, or Jimmy Choo, Celine, or Chloe here! While I can afford at least the lower end of those brands, I will wait my turn. I don’t want to buy items from these labels for the sake of owning their names. When I can afford to spend money on one of the said mentioned designers, I want to make sure I have done my research and find something that matches my style, that’s a personal investment instead of a frivolous purchase.
Strathberry (Strathberry of Scotland)
This is a Scottish brand that was indirectly introduced to me by Anna Bea. When I first ran into her YouTube channel, I noticed that this company’s ads would pop up before and during her videos. This Edinburg-based brand started in 2011 which initially sold golf bags, scarves, and tablet covers. After their relaunch in 2013, the name was shortened to just Strathberry, and they started selling mostly leather goods with a notable difference being the clean and minimal designs.
Clean and minimal are what drew me to these bags. I am not too fond of a handbag with large repetitive logos, embellishments, and monograms. In my early 20s, it was a style I gravitated to, but by my mid-20s, I was over it. Strathberry has an effortlessly understated clean style and many signature pieces that match my personality perfectly.
I couldn’t find many detailed reviews for these bags online. The Box Crescent is definitely one of the purse I am currently in love with, the. The price point for these bags is fantastic. Depending on your choice in style and size, you can own of these beauties for about $142.00 to well over $1,000.00.
Coach comes in second on my list as the second oldest company, right behind Furla. Coach was started in Manhattan, New York, in 1941 as a leather workshop making wallets and other leather goods. Interestingly, in the 1980s Coach was sold to the Sara Lee Company, which is best known as a bakery chain. In the late 1990s to 2000s, Coach Bags were everywhere with their annoying monogram prints. I guess everyone was doing it back then, but the amount of monogram bags with canvas and nylon in bright colors they pushed out was ridiculous. Like others, I can look back in shame as I owned a long rectangular crossbody logoed bag with a two-tone strap. Another issue with Coach Bags was the high rates of replicators found on E-Bay or coming from China. At one point, Coach was pumping out so many bags that the prices fell from $250 to well under $59.99. Years ago, I had gotten rid of all my Coach bags and migrated to Michael Kors. They both had a similar fad period, which dried up for me more than ten years ago. I hate to be a bag snub, but when anyone can get their hands on a bag, the bag’s value depletes. More importantly, these brands’ most affordable bags were also cheapened by their inability to keep up with change.
In 2020 Coach has changed and included newer styles such as the Tabby and Parker handbags. Both styles have a very classic Coach feel, priced at a decent range but very much catering to people who like clean lines, durability, and sophistication. I am still in debate with myself over the Tabby in black or brown. The Tabby Coach bag might run you between $225 or more depending on the size, color, material used, or if it’s on sale.
I have always wanted to rave about Sézane ever since I discovered them. This is a French company that organically grew out of a teenager’s bedroom into a major brand. This place is a millennial’s dream as the price point on Sézane does not leave you wondering if you have gone mad. For me, the style is a medley of well-curated French style that is effortlessly sexy but tasteful.
I love Sézane, from the clothing to the shoes, fragrance, and jewelry – But why, oh why, have I not paid attention to their purses before? Sézane has excellent none fuss bags and quality leather goods. I have been eyeing a wallet from Sézane, but it keeps going out of stock.
When it comes to bags, I am really into their Gaby Bag in the natural color, which is about $340. It’s an XXL tote bag that can hold your computer, paperwork, and many more. I can see myself traveling with this bag or merely taking it to the grocery store. For me, their Gaby Bag has that ‘Je ne sais quoi.’
Polène is a new brand for me; I first saw their ads on Instagram, followed by Facebook. There are so many adverts on these platforms that look good, but when you see the products in person, they are a hot ass mess, or you end up getting scammed. I was super skeptical about Polène because I only saw it on those social media platforms before seeing YouTubers, whom I trusted reviewed the bags. The one YouTuber whose review caught my eye was Jess of Fashion and Style Edit. Check out her review below. Jess is on the top of my list as one of the most trusted source for fashion tips!
Polène’s most popular bags are Numero Uno, Numero Sept, and Le Cabas. I have my eye on the Numero Sept. Their small leather goods will run you about $50 to $165 a piece, and the most I have seen for a full-size bag is $480.
Furla is not a new company, I learnt of this company back in 2009 when I first joined the designer discount site Gilt Groupe. Thanks to Gilt, I once shamelessly owned a taupe ostrich skin Furla purse. Furla is an Italian brand crafted by the Furlanetto family in 1927 and still owned by this family today. You can own something from Furla for as little as $29.00 all the way up to $598. They make bags, wallets, keychains, scarves, fragrances, and other accessories. Their crossbody bags and clutches are my favorite pieces.
Zac Posen’s bags represents a modern sophistication that can be worn to work or dressed up-or-down. Posen is from New York City and was first known for his clothes, and to be honest, I think he is a beautiful gown designer.
His gowns are show-stoppers and have graced many award shows. Zac impeccable drapes style flatters any figure, but his number one trick is seen in the waistline of anyone who wears his dresses. His dresses offer the wearers such a classic feminine look and give the illusion of a snatched-waist.
I fell in love with Zac Posen’s Eartha bags once I saw them on Gilt Groupe because the design grabbed my attention. I now own the Eartha bag in black, but I still had to add Posen to this list because I find his bags affordable yet stylish.
There is an interesting documentary called House of Z, which details Zac’s rise to fame and the eventual closing of his label due to financial issues. His bags are still being sold online at various relators such as Amazon, Gilt Groupe, RueLaLa, HauteLook, The RealReal, Bloomingdales, Dillard’s, and other department stores. You can get his bags from as low as $75 used up to almost $599.
This is another company I recently discovered, and from what I gather, it’s one of the most underrated brands on this list. Launch in Paris in 2013, this company is inspired by the idea that their bags aren’t just for owning, but for those who appreciate their usability, design, textures, and aesthetic. The inspiration for these bags is a mesh of art, fashion, music, furniture, interior design, and Korean culture. When I first saw the bags, I was instantly blown away by the shapes and colors. Their pieces are bold, which goes against my nature because I prefer black accessories, but there is something about Volon that makes me want to opt for more colors in different forms.
If you are looking for bags from Volon, you can find them at department stores and other sites such as Nordstrom or on Amazon ShopBop, Shopstyle.com, net-a-porter.com, lyst.com, and farfetch.com. When it comes to price range, depending on if you get an item on sale, you can snatch one of these lovelies for as little as $250.00, but some can run you well over $1,000.00.
Danse Lente is translated slow dance in French, but this is not a French brand. This is actually a British brand from London. This is another contemporary art inspired brand that is new to me. Danse Lente has very bold colors and designs that focus on high-quality leather craftsmanship, which, according to the company’s website, is inspired by contemporary aesthetics and modern architecture. While Danse Lente has excellent craftsmanship and style, they do not have price points like Hermes or Prada. These bags are super affordable for those who are willing to invest $200 – $1,300 for a bag. Their most popular design is the Phoebe bags, and I have to agree with the masses; this is a unique, eye-catching purse. Hey Danse Lente, I will take a Phoebe Bis bag in black, tan, and brown!
Senreve is another company I recently discovered and can’t wait to find my favorite handbag with. According to their website the name, Senreve is inspired by the woman who does it all; Senreve is derived from the French words for “sense” and “dream.”
This is an American brand started in San Francisco, birth out of a woman’s search for the perfect luxury bag that was sophisticated with a touch of femininity but could keep up with everyday life. The idea and vision for these bags are crafted in San Francisco. The bags are then refined and designed in New York and made in Italy. One of their most popular bags is Maestra, a chic, understated veracity bag-pack that comes in three sizes. While I have not seen this bag in-real-life yet, from all the reviews and images I have looked it, it seems like a well-designed fashion-forward bag that can be used for everyday wear. This bag is worth about $945, but there are other bags on their site with prices starting from $350 plus vegan leather goods.
After coming across the brands listed here, I have found several other affordable brands popping up on my feed. Brands like Mansur Gavriel, Anges Baboo, Haiti Design Co., Hilmer, Kintu New York, Gu_de, Rebecca Minkoff, By Far Bags, Slowline Bag, Samara, Zashadu, Tory Burch, See by Chloe, Chlak, PW PEI, Telfar, and Brother Vellies.
I will be looking into each of these companies, but now I am stuck deciding over whether to buy two new purses or just one. I have three runner ups in this mini handbag and wallet contest I have created for myself. Strathberry is leading, followed by Coach, and Sézane, but Polène is also tugging at my soul. Based on these brands’ price point, I can practically own at least one item from each and still not pay more than $1,000.00, but I am not going to do that. I am going to stick to my guns and get one hand bag and a small wallet.
When I do make my purchase, I will be sure to share my thoughts about my decision.
If you are still not convinced that the prices listed here are cheap enough for you, feel free to list affordable designers in the cooments.