Best designer handbags: spring/summer 2021
Handbag trends of spring/summer 2021 for emerging from lockdown
According to a recent report in the Financial Times: 'The amount of cash sitting in bank accounts will have increased by £180bn between the start of the pandemic and June this year, according to an estimate by the Office for Budget Responsibility issued [in March 2021],' with many Brits viewing their extra savings as a windfall rather than a carefully built-up nest egg.
Andy Haldane, the chief economist for the Bank of England, agrees, writing in February of the anticipated return of retail and social spending: 'The economy is poised like a coiled spring. As its energies are released, the recovery should be one to remember after a year to forget.'
While the reopening of al fresco dining and pub gardens has certainly been popular, it seems that there's a demand for fashion retail that just couldn't be served online, with queues a familiar site outside fashion retailers both budget and luxury.
For those who have experienced an unexpected boost to their savings, anecdotally it seems that now is the perfect time to invest in a new designer handbag.
Choose the right style and it will be one of the most worn items in your wardrobe, seeing you through all manner of social occasions, weight fluctuations and even provide a source of income should you want to rent it out.
The longevity of quality leather and hardware make a designer handbag a reassuringly long term investment, in fashion terms at least: cost-per-wear can be calculated over years rather than seasons, and the booming secondary fashion market on sites such as Vestiaire Collective indicate that handbags can retain a strong resale value.
The right bag can also be a sound purchase if you have environmental impact in mind. Sustainable style experts Lucy Siegle and Livia Firth suggest you ask yourself 'would I wear this 30 times?' before any fashion purchase: factoring in periods in the wash or the wrong weather a new top could take years to rack up 30 wears while a new handbag could do so in a month or two.
Whether you're looking for an investment piece, want to update your wardrobe with something super on-trend or are simply looking for inspiration to create your own savings goal, scroll on for the best designer and high street handbags to buy now.
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Shoes more your thing? Check out the best new-season summer sandals to get you through another summer of socially distanced walks.
From left: Rejina Pyo Allegra brown leather and raffia shoulder bag, £495; Stella McCartney Falabella faux-suede and raffia tote, £795; Arket braided straw tote, £79
Fashion's fling with all things natural continues, bringing a welcome sense of summer to statement shapes as well as more traditional totes.
Clockwise from left: Cos leather mini shoulder bag, £99; The Row Half Moon leather shoulder bag, £1,025; Prada Re-Edition 2000 mini nylon shoulder bag, £560; Staud Ollie crocodile-effect leather shoulder bag, £215
In fashion what goes around, comes around, and turn-of-the-millennium style is so right for now. The return of the baguette bag so beloved of Carrie Bradshaw and co is a prime example of a long-term fashion investment. If you've got a well-stored Fendi version, dust it off now.
While black or tan might be the most classic colours for a handbag, a hit of colour is a micro-trend in the accessories world, with a focus on blue becoming a trend within a trend. Don't worry about whether your new-season purchase is meta or not, or whether it goes with your outfit – embrace the colour clash to make this look work
The pillowy puffiness of Bottega Veneta's recent hit bags has ushered in an overall squishiness to the handbag market, with the unstructured styles working particularly well for the summer months.
From left: Ruskin Bennett bucket bag, £530; A.P.C Helene striped leather and canvas bucket bag, £265; Mansur Gavriel pleated mini leather bucket bag, £610
The last decade has seen the bucket bag return summer after summer, so it's a pretty safe bet if you're looking for a style with longevity. To help ensure you can get more than one season out of your purchase, look for at least the straps and lining to be made from strong, durable leather (or an animal-friendly alternative)
Jewellery lovers rejoice – now even your handbag can be upgraded with a bit of bling. This micro-trend for oversize hardware adds a bit of extra decorative appeal to otherwise simple bag styles.
From left: Lemaire burgundy wooden-bead shoulder bag, £850; Whistles Martha mini beaded bucket bag, £79; Jacquemus Le Petit Riviera off-white leather cross-body bag, £295
Whether a full-on beaded affair to a subtle nod to the natural world, wood is having a fashion moment right now. Wear with denim and unstructured tailoring now, and linen or cotton dresses come high summer
Boxy cross-body bags
Flatter styles may have dominated the cross-body offering for a while, but with all manner of extra accoutrements needed when we step outside (mask, hand sanitiser, accessories for all those al fresco meet-ups) its little wonder that a bit more room to pack seems appealing right now.