To many men, handbags are misinterpreted as something that are frivolously bought by women. To their bewilderment, they are just a “leather sack that just holds stuff.” But for women, handbags are the embodiment of style, personality, and for most, status. It is the one piece that does not have to fit, nor does it require any alterations. And for the true fashion connoisseurs, handbags are collectible pieces that appreciate with time and posses a rich legacy. Much like a suit to men, handbags are the females’ armour. A woman could be conveying the most boring look, but add a beautifully crafted handbag to the ensemble and the look is freshly altered. And while handbags do indeed hold the woman’s contents, they equally reflect her grace and identity.
Seeing as though Christmas is just about a week away, many men will begin their gift hunt, and one of the few gifts that men realize that cannot go wrong with women, is a handbag. But while most men realize this, they are completely lost when it comes to the woman’s handbag territory. It’s as if this hunt will take them on a journey to the handbag hinterlands of fashion. As such, we will guide you through this new terrain and aim to help you get your female gift-receiver that dream handbag she’s been lusting over.
As with all gift giving hunts, this is the most vital step in your search as handbags can range anywhere from $20 to $100, 00+. Your budget will not only determine the brand or quality of the handbag, but it will also aide you in your decision in the long run. With that said, the age-old expression of you get what you pay for applies in this world. Quality-made handbags are crafted with the best leathers in the world, and for some, hand-stitched. Much like a man’s suit, craftsmanship in handbags is what separates the good from the bad. From the supple calfskin being utilized, to the elegant grommets on the piece, it is all in the littlest of details. The exclusivity of the piece is also another factor in the pricing. Rather than mass market these beautifully constructed leather goods, designers and brands limit the amount produced so that the handbag remains unique. This is all reflected in the price of the handbag.
Below is an example of brands that we have categorized into three price brackets:
Lower Range (less than $250):
- Joe Fresh Style
- Roots Canada
- Jeanne Lottie
- Juicy Couture
Mid Range (less than $500):
- Cole Haan
- Marc by Marc Jacobs
- Michael Michael Kors
- Tory Burch
Higher Range (from $800+):
There are a plethora of handbags in the market, each different in its aesthetic and purpose of use. While two handbags may seem similar to the untrained eye (in terms of style), each one has its own purpose. So the one question a man needs to ask himself when hunting down that perfect handbag: what type of woman is she? Is she a woman who would wear her handbag to the office paired with her work-suits, or would she wear it casually with a pair of denim? With a myriad of handbag shapes available, below we list the basic types of handbags that all designers produce:
A bag with traps or handles and an open top.
A crescent-shaped shoulder bag with little structure.
Tall shoulder bag, often with a wider opening on top.
A small, handheld bag (most often used for evening wear).
A bag that looks a lot like the bread; long and rounded.
If she’s a working woman who would take her handbag to the office, look for both the satchel and tote shapes as they will provide her with the space and pockets/dividers needed to hold her folders. If she’s a traveler (or always on the go), the messenger and duffel will provide the ease and safety while on the road or in the air. If she’s in need of a piece that can taken her to galas, or out on the town, then the clutch and baguette will offer her the elegance and grace to compliment her gown/dress. And for the all-rounded woman who just wants to lug her handbag around on an everyday basis, the hobo will give the versatility and style needed for the everyday fashion maven.
Just as important as the shape, the material of a handbag will determine the look, feel and price of the piece. As stated, the majority of handbags in the industry utilize leather (calfskin in specific). Leather goods are timeless, and can be paired with any look. With time and use, the leather will soften and mature to give the bag a more authentic feel to it. They also last longer. The other main material utilized in the industry is canvas. Mainly reserved for the logo handbags, the canvas handbag evokes a youthful image. They can be classic as well as modern. Coated canvas is another form of the canvas handbag. Essentially a cotton canvas that has been coated with a treatment, the coated canvas handbag is a versatile material to consider. It is also the easiest to clean.
If the woman is seeking something that has a bit more substance and flavour, opt for a leather handbag. If she’s more of a showy and carefree individual, opt for the coated canvas piece.
Along with the plethora of shapes and the myriad of materials available, handbags come in many different colours and shades. So how does a man narrow down what colour to purchase? Well, consider these two things: season and outfits. If you want to purchase a handbag that she can use immediately, stray away from picking something in a spring colour the likes of bright yellow, green, or pink (unless one these colours is her favourite). Opt for deeper shades that are winter-friendly like deep reds, purples, and greens. Also, ensure that you have a good understanding of her closet, and what she already owns. The last thing you need is a handbag that she already owns, or doesn’t go with her personality. If her style is funky and includes bright, bold colours, something “out of season” like bright pastels might be just what she wants. However, if she’s a more classic dresser, stick to the more neutral colours like tan, brown, black, and grey. And if all else fails, opt for a black leather good piece. It is a timeless, classic and safe colour that goes with everything and that few women dislike. Besides, every woman should own at least one elegant black handbag in their wardrobe.
classics vs. “it bags”
There has been a feud of sorts in the handbag industry between the two classes of bags. “It Bag” was coined in the 1990s with the explosive growth of the handbag market in fashion. Designers vied to produce one bag that would sell hundreds of thousands of units by becoming the bag “of the moment”, a single handbag style that would spread like wildfire in popularity through the intertwined worlds of fashion and celebrity, aided by clever or just plain lucky marketing. At its peak, stores had waiting lists of up to thousands of woman all desiring to purchase that one bag. From Chloé’s Paddington to Balenciaga’s Le Dix (aka. the Motorcycle), women were all in a frenzy to have these pieces in their hands.
But as consumers have become more demanding, and in the face of structural changes in the handbag market, the “It Bag” is declining in popularity. More and more fashion companies are diversifying their offers, and no longer does one style blaze through a season. And while there still remains some reminiscence of this frenzy, classics have reemerged as the raison d’être for many female fashion connoisseurs. Classics such as Chanel’s 2.55 and Hermès’ famous Birkin have all stood the test of time. Their sheer simplistic design and rich history have given these pieces longevity in the ever-changing world that is fashion.
Never following trends, always the one setting them, classics are a girl’s best friend. So if you are looking for something that oozes history and refinement, opt for some of these classics:
- Chanel 2.55
- Hermès Birkin
- Hermès Kelly
- Christian Dior Lady Dior
- Bottega Veneta Intrecciato
- Louis Vuitton Speedy
top trends for fall 2009 in handbags
- Embellished Details (chains, studs, and sequins)
- Animal Prints
- Ruching Details
- Fur Trimming
- Shiny Metalics
- Hues of Gray or Red Handbags
- Crayon Colored Bags