The quintessential fashion bag universe is a vast one, and every so often, it is disrupted by labels that echo the zeitgeist in ways that leave a lasting impression. Experimental forms, contrasting textures, interesting colourways, innovative design and fun shapes make these labels stand out in a universe filled with cookie-cutter ideas. This year alone, Jacquemus‘ Le Chiquita Mini bag, Cult Gaia’s Dome clutch, and JW Anderson’s re-imagined Pierce piqued everybody’s interest and gave them cult status in a matter of months. 2019, we predict, will belong to these five labels that are pushing the boundaries of style in ways more than one.
Wandler by Elza Wandler
Strong architectural silhouettes, a feminine aesthetic, and fresh modernity define this Amsterdam-based leather goods brand. Launched in 2017, Elza Wandler’s luxury street style label balances art and functionality, while showcasing playful colourways inspired by artists such as the German Imi Knoebel. What’s more? Wandler’s trapeze Hortensia bag already has the approval of fashion mavens like stylist Georgia Tal, and influencer Camille Charrière.
Stockists: Le Mill (India), Dover Street Market (UK), Barneys (USA), Lane Crawford (HK)
Danse Lente by Youngwon Kim
Korean-born Youngwon Kim, a footwear design graduate from London College of Fashion, forayed into bags because she found making shoes creatively restricting. Her label Danse Lente (‘slow dance’ in French), launched in 2015, is characterised by clean, minimal lines, and structured silhouettes. Her pieces are inspired by Marcel Duchamp, Picasso and Joan Miro, and she has already started recycling ones that are discarded due to minute imperfections, adding more meaning to her concept of sustainability. Three collections old, the label’s Mini Johnny and Mini Lorna are already dominating the social media feed of several influencers.
Stockists: Dover Street Market and Selfridges (UK), Bergdorf Goodman (USA)
MANU Atelier by Beste and Merve Manastır
Every bag by Manu Atelier celebrates traditional Turkish techniques. For the co-founder sisters, leather was a familiar territory – their father is the oldest hand-craftsman and leather goods manufacturer in Istanbul. Launched in 2014, their statement pieces are hand-stitched and embroidered with great precision, and there is an unabashed use of striking colours. Within a span of five years, MANU Atelier has created coveted bags such as Pristine and Micro Fernweh, carried by Sarah Jessica Parker, Eva Chen and Bella Hadid.
Stockists: Selfridges (UK)
Yuzefi by Naza Yousefi
Based in London, Naza Yousefi gained industry experience under the likes of Giles Deacon and Christopher Kane. This not only bolstered her sense of product-making but also helped her develop a keen eye for detail. Launched in 2016, her label is about experimenting with leather; structural elements, like gussets and bolts, and intricate details add to the character to the bags. And where a number of brands are going extra-large, Yousefi is playing with small, boxy silhouettes.
Stockists: Browns, Selfridges (UK)
Online Stockists: www.netaporter.com
Hill and Friends by Emma Hill and Georgia Fendley
For Emma Hill, former creative director of Mulberry, and Georgia Fendley, its brand head, exiting the label was an opportunity to move beyond diktats they found restrictive. They founded Hill and Friends in 2015, and their pieces are defined by striking colourways, ethically-sourced leather and a signature postman’s lock which fastens in the shape of a smiley face. Their Happy Chain bag, featuring a ‘wink-and-go’ lock and an Italian calf suede inner lining, has already acquired cult status.
Stockists: Hill And Friends Flagship Store, Harrods, Selfridges (UK)
Online Stockists: www.selfridges.com