With summer coming to a close, it’s time to trade in your beach bags and hit up some of the best purse brands to complete your transitional looks. It might be second nature for you to start your search with designer bags turned out by major fashion houses, but there are tons of independent labels to get (re)acquainted with this season—all of whom will ground your look with a cool and contemporary feel.
For fans of Emily Ratajkowski and Hailey Bieber’s style, JW Pei is the affordable handbag brand to get to know, stat. Best known for its ’90s-inspired micro bags in mood-boosting hues, the label is quickly gaining clout among celebs and influencers around the world.
Those returning to an office commute might want to switch things up with a roomier style, and new-classics like Cuyana and Clare V. have high-quality options that are chic and endlessly wearable—not to mention available at far more accessible price points than those from traditional luxury handbag brands. Get to know all the other best purse brands we’re coveting right now, then shop them below.
This AAPI-owned vegan leather handbag brand has gained quite the celebrity following in 2021, with A-listers like Gigi Hadid, Hailey Bieber, Emily Ratajkowski, and Irina Shayk all sporting the Gabbi bag. We can’t decide what we love most though—the cute colors, the retro-inspired shapes, or the fact that you snag bestsellers for under $100. We’ll let you be the judge.
Capturing Parisian charm-meets-California cool to a tee, Clare V.’s bags are timeless, ultra-wearable, and downright fun to wear. The Los Angeles-based brand’s hero piece is its suede-and-stripe tote, but there are a ton of other styles to choose from, including reusable shoppers, foldover clutches, and perfectly giftable leather goods.
Cuyana wants you to love what you buy and wear it often, which is precisely how you’ll feel about its thoughtfully designed leather bags. The monogram System Tote is a new-season favorite, available in two sizes and in six classic Cuyana shades (think khaki, burgundy, caramel, and black leather). This luxury bag is made from buttery-soft Italian leather, with room to fit a trio of add-ons, like a laptop sleeve, flap bag, and adjustable shoulder strap.
Mansur Gavriel is in the business of creating status symbols: Its Bucket Bag needs no introduction—and we predict a similar fate for its cloud clutches and Tulipano tote, dreamed up in the prettiest lollipop shades.
Come for gorgeous ombré fringing, stay for the incredible craftsmanship. Founded by former fashion stylist Nasrin Jean-Baptiste and ethically produced by female artisans, each Petit Kouraj bag is a true labor of love: It takes 8 to 12 hours of manual work to complete a single fishnet shopper.
Now presenting summer in a bag, courtesy of Kayu, which works closely with women-led cooperatives in the Philippines to bring you its adorable pom-pom totes and evening-ready clutches. The sustainable brand prioritizes organic, responsibly sourced materials like natural straw, factory scraps, and vegetable-tanned leather.
Staud marries retro shapes with graphic patterns and colors for results that are as desirable as they are accessible.
A small village of artisan weavers in Bali handcrafts these perfect woven bags, which look like they belong on the sun-kissed arms of someone who summers in the French Riviera.
A must-have among the fashion crowd, Yuzefi is all about clean lines and minimalist shapes. Iranian-born founder Naza Yousefi earned her stripes at Christopher Kane and Richard Nicoll before venturing out on her own in 2015.
The tiny bag-trend is here to stay, and you can look to cool-girl brand Brandon Blackwood for mini bags almost too cute to handle.
Artisanal yet with a distinctly modern feel, Istanbul-based Günes Mutlu’s celeb-loved designs fill a unique white space in the contemporary market. Featuring offbeat materials like rattan, velvet, rope, and natural stone, each one of her creations is “inspired by real and imaginary travels,” with local Turkish craftsmen at the helm of her production.
Structural in shape but intricate in execution, Marina Raphael designs luxe bags with attitude. Each one of her modern heirlooms is handmade in Florence, Italy, from the feather-embellished top-handle to the quilted baguette.
With its soft yet boxy shape and oversized belt buckle, Boyy became an instant hit among editors in the early aughts thanks to its uniquely shaped bags. Spot its signature clasp on everything from card cases to sophisticated work totes.
Ethical handbag line Behno (which means “sister” in Hindi) has a unique business model that goes beyond just consciously sourcing materials: Founder Shivam Punjya created The Behno Standard as a way to focus on garment-worker social mobility in India, and we’re partial to its dumpling crossbody bags for dressing up casual ‘fits.
Put a futuristic spin on your everyday look with Coperni’s architectural handbags. Mark our words: The “Swipe” model—available in a range of sizes and colors—is about to become a new cult-favorite.
Straight off the streets of Copenhagen, Hvisk’s colorful slouchy bags lean hard into ’90s fashion, making them major hits today. The Danish brand is committed to transparency and ethical manufacturing, with many of its affordable designs made from recycled materials.
With one foot in the past and another in the present, Hereu (meaning “heir” in Catalan) designs practical totes in earthy color palettes that read nostalgic and on-trend at the same time. Founders José Bartolomé and Albert Escribano draw inspiration from the Spanish Mediterranean landscape, where all of the items are locally produced.