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Tiny bags, clutches and more bag trends in 2021 to know

The days of the single it bag are long gone.

Today, everyone’s vying over different styles that speak to key trends, interspersed with versatile, enduring designs that wouldn’t look out of place several seasons from now.

From switchable straps that breathe new life into bags and simple staples for pared down looks (seen everywhere in the COVID-19 era), we’re highlighting some of the biggest handbag trends we’ve seen of late that we’ll be happily carrying into 2021.

Tiny bags

Left-right, top-down: Jacquemus Chiquito, Fendi Peekaboo XS, Valentino VSling, Chanel micro vanity case (from SS21 runway)

The super-small bag trend has been big since 2019. In the age of COVID-19, some would argue that micro bags are out — what with the hand sanitisers and mask storage boxes we’re carrying everywhere. With time, however, we’re seeing more practical iterations crop up, for instance transformed as luxury tech cases, ensuring that teeny tiny bags seem to continue to reign well into the new year. For true minimalists who want to carry around only the true essentials, take your pick from now instantly recognisable styles such as Jacquemus’ small Chiquito; Fendi’s more manageably sized Peekaboo XS; Valentino’s micro VSling or look forward to Chanel’s itty-bitty SS21 accessories, which dominated the runway.

Top handle

Left-right, top-down: Miu Miu Confidential bag, Saint Laurent Cassandra top handle bag, Chloé Hailey bag, Chloé Daria bag.

Top handle bags are all style and all substance: there’s usually enough length that you can swing them across your shoulders, or carry them on one arm. That’s not all: some handles are made with unexpected materials, like Miu Miu’s Confidential floral-embroidered bag, which features a nostalgic bamboo handle and whimsical patterns that will add a splash of colour to any outfit. We also like the smaller styles that come with long shoulder straps, like Chloe’s Mini Daria, which is a blend of both masculine and feminine elements, shown here in a seasonal style perfect for festive occasions. Previously decorated for FW20 with Rita Ackermann‘s sketches, SS21 sees the classic emblazoned with Corita Kent’s silkscreen graffiti art. If you love a more distinctive silhouette, Chloé also takes the top handle bag to the next level with the new Hailey, a bolster-shaped calfskin handbag for SS21 that features a brushed gold stirrup frame. For an enduring style that will last you more than a few seasons, Saint Laurent’s new Cassandra top handle bag, introduced for FW20, is a vintage-inspired design featuring the fashion house’s iconic YSL clasp.


Left-right, top-down: Bottega Veneta Pouch, Loewe Flamenco clutch, Alexander McQueen Sculptural pouch, Dior clutch (from SS21 runway)

Clutch bags will always have a place at dinner parties and work wonders for a modern, minimalistic look in the day time. This year, however, we’re seeing a gradual move to softer silhouettes, which will continue into 2021. The Pouch by Bottega Veneta; Loewe’s supple drawstring Flamenco clutch and Alexander McQueen’s Sculptural pouch are the perfect bags to tuck under your arm for errands or cocktails alike; while the highly coveted Dior clutch for SS21, a vintage silhouette returning from the 70s, can be unfolded and transformed into a tote.

Retro revival

Speaking of the return of vintage silhouettes, the revival of the iconic handbags of yesteryear has been a steady trend: think Dior’s John Galliano-designed Saddle from 2018, now an enduring classic, or the Louis Vuitton Pochette. Late last year, Prada released reimagined editions of the 2000s must-have nylon bag in new colours. It continues to take inspiration from house archives with the brand new Cleo style, debuted in the Spring/Summer 2021 Womenswear collection. Bottega Veneta also revamped its classic hobo shoulder bag in 2019 into the brand new Jodie, now available in new seasonal colours. Gucci’s Jackie 1961 small hobo bag, meanwhile, looks to the mid-20th century for inspiration. And the Fendi Baguette revival continues, with new colours and materials seen on the SS21 runway.

Modern equestrian

Fall 2020 runways saw numerous ‘posh jockey’ looks — skinny trousers and blazers — which are best paired with equestrian-inspired structured leather crossbody bags. Celine’s Triomphe saddle bag is an obvious pick; whilst other coveted styles include Gucci’s Horsebit 1955; Celine Teen Triomphe in calfskin; Burberry’s mini leather Olympia, and Dior’s Bobby.

Spotlight on straps

Interchangeable bag straps, which adds an element of personalisation (and practicality) to your handbag, have been on the fashion world’s radar since at least 2016, and the trend continues on strong this autumn. Celine’s latest signature handbag, the 16, matches with a wool and leather trimmed shoulder strap measuring 6cm in width and comes in two lengths. It can be paired with bags from the 16 collection, and is designed to be worn either on the shoulder or across the body. Dior’s Lady D-Lite, a reimagining of the legendary Lady Dior, was first released last year. Unlike the original, it comes with a matching strap — but you can also mix and match with your own preferred styles. The Chanel 19 flap bag, a new release this year, features a chain strap that’s not unlike the one on the Chanel Boy model, but chunkier, with leather detail where it sits on the shoulder.

(Header and featured image credit: Chloé)

This article was first published on Lifestyle Asia Hong Kong.

Tiny bags, clutches and more bag trends in 2021 to know

Andrea Lo

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