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How to shop for classic designer bags that won’t go out of style 

With the advent of online shopping, we’ve been terribly spoiled for choice — for clothes, for shoes, and above all, for bags.

Croissant bags, moon bags, basket bags and baguette bags are just some of the many trends we’ve spotted in the past year, all dictated by the sartorial whims of fashion designers, Instagram influencers and celebrities. While it’s always nice to get creative with how we dress, wouldn’t it be nice to have one good bag that you can take with you anytime, anywhere?

Some fashion brands certainly think so. Another emerging trend, or perhaps anti-trend, that we’ve noticed is the rise of the classic bag: the one revived from the archives of established luxury houses, or else inspired by our mother’s own favourite accessories.

Very often, these bags are imbued with a sense of history. At Celine, Hedi Slimane has borrowed elements of the brand’s ’60s and ’70s designs (a gold hardware detail here, a leather trim there) to create the brand’s new bestsellers, like the Triomphe and the 16.

Princess Diana, in 1995, with her Lady Dior handbag
Princess Diana, in 1995, with her Lady Dior handbag (Photo credit: Cherruault/SIPA)

At its recent pop-up in Singapore, Coach made a point of showcasing its former designer Bonnie Cashin’s creations from the last century, some of which have been reissued through its Coach Originals collection, or painstakingly restored. And Dior is presently hosting its own pop-up that highlights the Lady Dior handbag, whose silhouette has remained unchanged since Princess Diana first fell in love with it.

What these styles have in common, and what makes them effectively seasonless, is their form: simple, elegant and practical. These are words you can use to describe the ultimate investment bag, the Hermes Birkin. It’s worth nothing that even a brand like Loewe, known for its eccentric shapes like the Puzzle, has recently ventured into tamer territory (see the new Goya bag).

Kaia Gerber with her trusty Celine Ava bag in Sage
Kaia Gerber with her trusty Celine Ava bag in Sage (Photo credit: Getty Images, GOFFPHOTOS.COM, Backgrid)

With that criteria in mind, you can rule out anything that might not age well in your wardrobe, like the trendy styles we mentioned above, or all those tiny handbags that you no longer know what to do with. Longevity is key, especially now that the future of fashion is tied to vintage.

We’re already seeing the attitude reflected in today’s style stars, like Kaia Gerber, who is frequently spotted with her Celine Ava bag, or Kendall Jenner, who relies on her collection of minimalist accessories.

If you’d like to build your own collection of bags that you will love for more than six months, consider our selection below.

 

Header photo credit: Getty Images

1

Burberry’s beloved shoulder bag takes its shape and name from the Olympia London, the vast, arched hall where Burberry held its Fall/Winter 2020 show. As Kendall Jenner has shown us, it makes an excellent everyday bag, conveniently fitted with slip and zipped pockets. If you’re going to use it that frequently, opt for a neutral tone like this one that can easily go with your various outfits.

Price
S$3,550
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2

Celine has no shortage of timeless accessories, but its new Tabou bag is worth considering. Inspired by the timeless box silhouette, it boasts gussets at the sides that make it expandable, an adjustable shoulder strap for versatility, and a soft leather construction.

Price
S$3,700
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3

Sustainability and style do go hand in hand, as this Gucci bag demonstrates. It’s crafted from leather that has been tanned without the use of metal or chrome, which is great for the environment. Its interior is just as sophisticated as its exterior, having been fully lined with suede.

Price
S$2,695
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4

Loewe has brought back the Amazona, which was first introduced in 1975 as the go-to accessory for working women. Its design still holds up, although creative director Jonathan Anderson has also made some tweaks for today’s crop of career women. That includes pockets for digital devices, as well as this new square shape that makes the bag a great evening option.

Price
S$4,450
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5

Unlike the other padded, pillow-like styles, this is the most subdued version of the Cassette bag yet. Bottega Veneta’s signature intrecciato weave can truly be appreciated for how it elevates an accessory through clever craftsmanship. This crossbody bag is smart and sophisticated, and will work well with a blazer.

Price
S$2,745
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6

Like its namesake, Saint Laurent’s Kaia bag possesses an understated elegance. It shows off a saddle silhouette that won’t go out of fashion anytime soon, with the only flourish being the iconic YSL logo on the front.

Price
S$2,400
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7

The Tabby takes cues from a ’70s Coach bag, which is how we know its design will see you through another 50 years. This one is made from ivory calf leather with classy touches of gold-tone hardware. Plus, with its two detachable straps, you essentially get a shoulder bag and a crossbody rolled into one. That’ll come in handy.

Price
S$677
Price
8

You don’t have to break the bank for that one good bag — this one by Charles & Keith will do just as well. The Gabine, as it’s called, is made with gorgeous curves and polished hardware details. In this size, it’s also big enough for your daily essentials.

Price
S$75.90
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Pameyla Cambe
Senior Writer
Pameyla Cambe is a fashion and jewellery writer who believes that style and substance shouldn't be mutually exclusive. She makes sense of the world through Gothic novels, horror films and music. Lots of music.