These 6 Emerging Brands Are Redefining the Investment Handbag

Gone are the days when a handbag’s desirability was purely determined by its logo or shape (i.e. the Fendi baguette, the Dior saddle, the Chanel 2.55, or the Balenciaga motorcycle bag). While these bags will forever maintain their allure, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a new wave of handbags (and labels) with long-lasting appeal.

In fact, we’re no longer looking for the season’s ephemeral It bag as much as we are a timeless carry-all that embodies our values as shoppers and needs as humans. We hold our investment pieces to a higher standard today, as we seek items that combine function and durability, ethics and sustainability, and of course, style.

As brands and consumers create and collect thoughtful accessories that will carry us into the future, a crop of independent brands is reevaluating what defines an investment handbag today. What these brands share in common is that they’re rooted in the same principle: no sacrifices. What’s stylish should also be functional, what’s modern should also be timeless, and everything—no matter the size, shape, or style—should be made with our planet in mind.

So before you invest in a handbag, ask yourself these questions: Is this the kind of bag I will take everywhere, have forever, and pass down? Or is it the kind that satisfies a seasonal craving that I’ll wish to discard and consign in a few years? Below, we share six emerging handbag brands that all say “yes” to the first question.

Photo: Courtesy of Porto Studio

Loddie Allison launched Porto, an expertly crafted line of fine leather pouches, to eliminate the weight of excess and re-establish value in what’s truly essential. “I wanted something that could carry my essentials in one place and move with me throughout my day—without having to think about it,” she says. Unlike a wallet or handbag, the pouch carries your keys, phone, and cards in one place, and can transition from wrists to larger bags with ease—marrying an understated design with fuss-free utility. Unsurprisingly, the brand has found cult status among women who appreciate the quieter aspects of luxury (each pouch is handmade in Tuscany from Nappa leather and organic cotton). “We’re about simplifying,” remarks Allison, “In our industry, less is often so much more.” Porto currently has two sizes of the pouch that come in four neutral colors, with small collections introducing new colors seasonally. Says Allison: “We will never create novelty for novelty’s sake.”

Porto Studio the mini bag

Porto Studio the mini bag

Photo: Courtesy of Savette

For Amy Zurek, naming her brand ‘Savette’ after her mother’s maiden name was a felicitous decision. After all, her mother and grandmother’s distinct styles are what inspired the brand, to begin with. “My grandmother’s style is irreverent and modern. She introduced me to modern art and collected modernist jewelry—Georg Jensen, William Spratling sterling from Mexico, and various others from her travels,” says Zurek. Her mother’s style, by contrast, is more traditional. “She wore luxury leather goods from houses like Hermès, Gucci, Goyard,” Zurek explains. Those were the brands that made the biggest impression on Zurek growing up, so it’s no coincidence that luxury, sophistication, and craftsmanship are all sensibilities she has brought to Savette. “I felt that the market was missing luxury bags that were minimal in design without feeling anonymous,” she says. These timeless brands, she realized, all seem to have a recognizable element that makes them covetable without a gaudy logo. For Savette, the custom hardware that echoes the forms of modernist sculpture and jewelry has become the brand’s own subtle signature. Launching with only three styles, Zurek responds to today’s consumers’ ‘fewer but better’ mentality by focusing on functionality and versatility. Her two larger styles, for example, feature a three-way convertible strap, which can be worn crossbody, over the shoulder, or as a handle.

Savette symmetry pochette leather tote

Savette Tondo 22 leather shoulder bag

Savette symmetry 19 leather shoulder bag

Savette Tondo 22 leather shoulder bag

Photo: Courtesy of Mas

Marie-Philippe Thibault’s design expertise isn’t simply the result of her experience working for luxury brands like Hermès, The Row, and Louis Vuitton. Design was embedded in her DNA. Having come from a long lineage of designers—her mom, grandmother, and great-grandmother were all seamstresses—Thibault understood from a young age that producing a good product takes patience. With Mas, her new line of structural leather bags, Thibault puts equal importance on the design process as she does on the products themselves. She encourages slow fashion by producing limited quantities using materials procured through ethical suppliers in France and Canada, and she works intimately with the makers who assemble each bag by hand. Putting time into the design process, she believes, is what makes the bags last; there is a precision and integrity behind the creating that bleeds into the products themselves. Mas bags are the forever kind. The popular Garden Tote, for example, while having a uniquely modern shape, is still elegant and timeless. “To me,” says Thibault, “it reflects the enduring power of simplicity.”

Photo: Courtesy of TL 180

It wasn’t too long ago that Rome-based brand TL 180 was a best-kept secret among a tasteful crowd of cool girls just like its founders. Italian-born Luisa Orsini and French-born Antonine Peduzzi launched TL 180 in an effort to combine the nonchalant French attitude with the timeless quality of Italian-made goods. It was only recently that they began partnering with global e-tailers, garnering them more international attention.