How To Buy A Handbag: 5 Designers’ Tips - All The Pretty Birds


How To Buy A Handbag: 5 Designers’ Tips

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Jessie Ajluni | Thursday November 16th 2017

Growing up, I must admit that I was handbag obsessed. With rows and rows of cheap bags in a multitude of color ways, prints, and shapes filling my closet, I was constantly switching out pieces to style with the latest fashion fad I was attempting to recreate. Fast forward more years than I would like to admit, and nowadays I am a one-handbag kinda gal. Gone are the days of fast fashion handbags, and in their stead I have one luxury bag that is my ultimate go to.

But I admit, I miss the days of my multi-hued purses, where one piece could change an entire look! So, to find some inspiration, and maybe a happy medium between my handbag feast or famine mentality, I am chatting with some of the coolest handbag designers around about what bags they invest in, how to take care of the bags you’ve got (spoiler: it involves keeping those pesky dust bags) and what their own favorite bag purchases have been. So read on, Pretty Birds, and find a little inspiration for yourselves.

Paige Smith and Consuelo Chozas, Co-founders of Vere Verto

What do you look for when investing in a handbag?
Paige: When I am investing in a handbag, I consider the items I carry every single day. The functionality, volume of space needed, and generally how many lipsticks will fit in the pocket are all things I ponder over.
Consuelo: I look for quality of leather and craftsmanship in my bags. I really want my bags to last and if they feel like low quality, they aren’t going to survive as long as I need.

What trends do you see coming up?
Paige: We are seeing a lot of alternative materials such as weaves, shearling, and probably more baskets sticking around.
Consuelo: We love seeing hip packs and backpacks picking up, we are all about the hands free life!

What’s your best tip to keep your bag in perfect condition?
Consuelo: We recommend conditioning and weather proofing by a professional when you first get your bag. When your bag is off-duty, store it in a dust bag and don’t stack items on top of it.

What is your favorite handbag you’ve ever owned?
Paige: When I was just graduating high school I was gifted a great leather weekender by Ralph Lauren, it has gorgeous vegetable tanned leather and has aged so beautifully. It has literally never gone out of style and people always assume it’s a recent purchase.

Alexandra Clancy, Founder of Alexandra Clancy

What should you look for when investing in a bag?
Every bag has a personality that can complement your individual style, but not all bags can keep up with you season after season. When shopping for an investment piece, there are really 3 things to keep in mind: quality, functionality and attitude. If a bag fits your attitude and meet your needs – you’re halfway there. But if you want a bag to really stand the test of time, look for one that is impeccably constructed in high quality leathers that will patina and become more beautiful with age.

What trend do you see coming up?
I’ve never really been a slave to trends. For me, it’s always been about functionality. That being said, I have been seeing a growing influence when it comes to multifunctional bags; shoulder bags that turn into clutches, belt bags that turn into cross bodies, etc. Styles that can transform easily from day to night are becoming real essentials.

What is your best tip to keep your bag in perfect condition?
When not using my bag, I always store it in its dust bag. If it’s empty, I fill it with tissue paper to keep its shape intact. If a bag has a soft body, I hang it by the handles for the same reason. I also always keep a bottle of leather conditioner on hand to keep my bags moisturized and protected. A silicone-based spray can provide waterproof protection from the rain too.

What is your favorite bag you’ve ever owned?
I’m obsessed with our Mulberry Shopper. It’s light as a feather and the perfect size for day. If I’m ever toting anything around with a bit of weight – I just use the extra guitar strap and hardly feel a thing. And that nappa leather – it’s to die for!

Lee Savage, Founder & Creative Director of Lee Savage

What do you look for when investing in a handbag?
When investing in a handbag, I look for something that will stand the test of time, rather than go with a trend, something classic and clean with a neutral color palette that works well with my wardrobe.  For a day-bag, I also find a cross-body strap to be essential, as I love to go hands-free.

What trends do you see coming up?
For FALL 2017, oversized bags seem to be making a comeback.  I also love the velvet and metallic bags popping up all over the runway.  Velvet adds such a luxurious feeling, and metallics are great neutral that transitions easily from day to night.

What’s your best tip to keep your bag in perfect condition?
I may not be the best person to ask, as I am less than gentile with many of my bags.  However, I think care is important to keeping any bag in top condition.  I offer polishing cloths with all of my evening bags in order to allow clients to maintain the ultimate shine.  The leather on many day bags can also be polished, and keeping them all in their proper dust bags can lengthen the shelf life.

What is your favorite handbag you’ve ever owned?
My Balenciaga Biker Bag.  I’ve owned it for almost 15 years, and it was my first designer bag purchase.  I still remember the excitement I felt buying it.

Elena Ghisellini, Designer for Elena Ghisellini

What do you look for when investing in a handbag?
An attitude, I want to find something to complete the outfit in a modern and unexpected way. I love to look for new shapes and details… the piece should feel unique and create new emotions.

What trends do you see coming up?
More creative shapes that are both luxurious and functional for women’s needs, joyful and pure silhouettes that give an iconic look that is instantly recognizable.
Personally, I think that the architecture of the object is becoming more and more important.

What’s your best tip to keep your bag in perfect condition?
Always keep a leather bag away from the real enemy: water.

What is your favorite handbag you’ve ever owned?
My iconic Felina clutch is my favorite bag as it acts as an expression of my joy, femininity and playfulness. I’m always proud to wear my Felina because I renew the style every season and it has become a crowd favorite.

Emmaline Ranzman, Founder and Designer of Emm Kuo

What do you look for when investing in a handbag?
For me the perfect bag, is a bag that can function from day to night and isn’t too heavy or complicated. I look for quality leathers that have a nice hand details and finishes that will age beautifully over time. Since I’m always traveling and can’t bring my entire wardrobe and life on the road, an accessory that I can take everywhere is important. That’s what inspired my Paloma Pouches, they are perfect statement piece that can be thrown in a tote or worn alone.

What trends do you see coming up?
Next season we will definitely see bags in more interesting rounded silhouettes AND architecturally inspired shapes. There’s more focus on signature and accent hardware, which isa great way to update a classic silhouette.  One of the key trends that I love is the “basket” inspired bag. I designed my variation, named the Marigot , with detailed hardware and thick chunky straps to give the leather “basket” bag a more modern  and distinct feel. Another trend that I love is the belted bag. I always love a hands free option.

What’s your best tip to keep your bag in perfect condition?
Leather cream is a miracle worker! Leather, just like skin, needs conditioning to maintain it suppleness. I love Chamberlains leather and milk conditioner.
It keeps leather bags smooth and in great shape. Also it’s important to stuff your bags with tissue paper when you aren’t using them. It helps bags to hold their original shape. Lastly, I always store my bags in cotton dust bags, which allow for the bag to breathe and I make sure my bags are kept in a dark and dry place. Keeping bags out of sunlight helps leather maintain the color and keeping them in a dry place will prevent mold.

What is your favorite handbag you’ve ever owned?
Before I started designing my own bags, my favorite was the Balenciaga city bag, it was the perfect mix of lux and cool and I loved that there wasn’t any big obvious logos allover it. Today, “It” bags have taken over and you’ll see every girl wearing the same bag for a month and then it will be replaced by the newest trend.

I really wanted to make bags that were fun and not to be taken so seriously, but also that would last.

Our day collection consists of a variation of styles from cross bodies to backpacks and totes. I source the most luxurious leathers and hardware to make sure that every detail is considered and given attention. Our evening collection is really special and the bags are individually made by hand and are pieces I envision women passing down to their great granddaughters. They’re completely timeless. 

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