We're of the opinion that everything we buy should be viewed as an investment. Be it a Topshop dress, a pair of bejewelled shoes, vintage partywear or a hot-ticket camel coat, every item in our wardrobes is loved just the same. However, there's no denying that we have a special place in our hearts for classic designer handbags.
A designer bag should truly last a lifetime—which is why it pays to seek out and save up for styles from the industry's most trusted fashion brands. From well-established pieces from Chanel and Dior to relatively new styles from brands such as Loewe, there are so many different options to choose from it can make the process all the more daunting.
To help you decide which bag is the right investment for you, we've done the hard work and pooled the world's classic designer handbag brands together in one place, along with the bags that helped cement their respective timeless statuses. Keep scrolling for inspiration, and start putting those pennies away, pronto…
We can't discuss designer bags without giving Chanel the attention it deserves. The brand's iconic 2.55 bag was designed by Gabrielle Coco Chanel herself in February 1955 (the numerical moniker serves as the month and year of its created). In the '80s, Chanel's creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, decided to pay homage to the bag with a few modern amendments, and the Classic Flap was born.
Fendi's Baguette served as cheeky bit on the sartorial side when it came to be in 1997. The brash clasp and short shoulder strap were the archetype of '90s style and offered respite from the more formal designer handbags of the time. An appearance on Carrie Bradshaw's arm in Sex and the City secured its place in fashion history.
Joining the esteemed ranks of Chanel and Hermès is Loewe's cult Puzzle bag. After its debut at the brand's S/S 15 menswear show, it's been on the wish lists of those in the know ever since. It gets its name from the fact it's made from 41 different pieces of leather—a phenomenal amount of work, and that's before we even consider all of the finishing details. As one of the most complex bag patterns around, we reckon it's worth every single penny.
You'd be forgiven for assuming the Birkin would have made our prestigious list, but we think Kelly is Hermès unsung hero. Named after screen siren and Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly, it offers a cleaner silhouette to that of the Birkin. Initially created in the '30s, its presence is still felt today—particularly during fashion month, when it's still one of the most-spotted bags on the FROW crowd.
A favourite amongst bloggers and celebrities alike, Saint Laurent's monogram bag is the chicest take on logo-emblazonment we've seen. The fact it's one of the brands only pieces that features the "Y" for Yves may just be the root of its continued success.
There have been many Louis Vuitton It bags over the years, but few are as coveted—and yet omnipresent—as the Neverfull tote. Used as a weekender bag or for work, you'll be hard-pressed to find a fashion follower without one in her arm-candy arsenal.
The Chloé Paddington reigned supreme in the early noughties, but hot on its heels is Drew—the crossbody saddlebag that went boom back in 2014 when literally everyone of note had one sling across their torso. Since. it's been remodelled in patchwork, upgraded heavy-duty metal hardware and adorned with embellishments. However, we still think it looks its best left as is…
Designed in 1993, Kate Spade New York's Sam bag initially appeared in nylon and fast became one of the It bags of the decade. So much so that Anna Wintour is famed for saying she couldn't walk a block in New York without seeing one. The brand officially reissued Sam in January 2018 to mark its 25th anniversary only for wait lists to form, proving it's just as relevant today as it was back then.
When Miu Miu launched as the baby-sister brand to Prada in 1993, it was in no way going to conform to the monotonous minimalism other brands adhered to. Instead, everything was given a playful spin, and the Matelassé bag is a prime example. The chevron motif was a fresh take on elegant quilting and has since become a signature for the brand—you'll probably recognise it from Miu Miu's perfume bottle, too.
If there's one bag that blew up in the last few years thanks to just how useful and practical it is for so many women, it has to be the Michael Kors Jet Set tote. What the roomy Jet Set did was make up for the scaling down of many other It bags, and its sweet price point made it accessible to a wider audience.
Let's face it—the last few years have been dominated by Gucci. Its kooky catwalk creations filtered down to mid-market hero pieces with its iconic GG belt and leather loafers, both of which became fashion's most sought-after items almost overnight. As for arm candy, Gucci's Soho shoulder basically became blogger uniform and continues to be a best seller.
For all of the more adventurous styles to tempt you in, Coach is actually very good at minimalist bags, and its Chelsea Hobo bag will forever be a quality choice. The double-strap feature coupled with the fact it's roomy enough for your essentials, makes it the ideal everyday bag, while the sleek, understated logo is worn like a badge of honour.
Created by Nicholas Knightly in 2002, Mulberry's Bayswater is as iconic as they come. Known to age well and hold its own against the trends, owning one is a fashion rite of passage.
Chic, practical and effortlessly stylish, it's little wonder Celine's Trio bag has amassed such a loyal fan base. With three separate compartments connected by poppers, its appeal to the modern woman isn't lost on us. Wear across the body when you're on the clock, then simply connect the two outer pockets together to create a clutch after dark.
Launched in 2016, it wasn't long before the J.W.Anderson Pierce bag began to take over the street style circuit. It's eponymous pierce ring fastening makes it identifiable from great distances—so much so that we spot one on a near-daily basis.
Originally designed in 2000 by Nicolas Ghesquière, the Motorcycle bag was initially dismissed by his superiors owning to its lack of shape, which went against the structured bag trends of the time. However, when it finally saw the light of day, the Motorcycle bag proved to be a huge success (probably because it was unlike anything else on the market).
The Lady Dior was born in 1994, and it's clear it was destined to become a classic (with a little help from Princess Diana, who carried it religiously). In fact, it was originally named the Chouchou, which is French for "favourite." However, it was renamed in 1996 as a tribute to Princess Di, who was known as Lady Diana Spencer before she married Prince Charles.
Okay, so it's technically called the Galleria by Prada, but you may also know it as Saffiano. Saffiano refers to the hardwearing, heat-treated leather of which it's made. The unique hatch pattern increases durability, meaning it's less prone to scratching and even water-resistance. This is the ideal bag for the woman constantly on the go.
Still not certain which classic designer handbag brand to go for? We suggest consulting the style set.