For over a year now, I've either shoved my phone and mask into a pocket or carried the very same boring black crossbody bag whenever I leave the house. I've occasionally had to schlep about with a rucksack full of baby toys/snacks/essentials, but aside from that, my handbag collection is gathering dust and feeling rather sorry for itself. I think the fact that the V&A's spectacular handbag exhibition was open for a total of two whole days last year says it all: This once-prized area of our wardrobes has been, understandably, very neglected.
Although handbag searches notably decreased on Google Trends in 2020 compared to the previous four years, in some more affluent corners of the fashion landscape, luxury handbag sales have been booming. Many consumers who would have normally spent their disposable income on holidays, fancy dinners or special events have instead taken the opportunity to invest in their forever bags. So naturally, handbag "trends" have faded out a little, and "forever" styles have come to the fore once more. Whether or not the easing of restrictions will flourish into the joyful outfit fest I'm imagining will happen, I still can't help but feel a little bit excited to tote a cute bag again, classic or otherwise. Sure, there'll be a need for practical styles—that day-long picnic can't fit into a pouch. But I'm also sensing an urge to carry a frivolous and pretty one just to feel something. At the moment, brands are catering to both sensible, timeless purchases as well as designs that are more fun and joyful. Keep scrolling for the big handbag trends of 2021.
Days spent at the park or walking from one location to another will require some baggage. You'll need layers (British weather!), snacks, water, sanitiser, mask, sunnies, wallet, phone, plasters (anyone else?) and more. That's why it's great that basket bags continue to be a very popular choice in fashion circles.
'90s SHOULDER BAG
Well before the boom of Prada's Cleo bag, '90s shoulder styles were back on the fashion agenda. But this cult item has certainly cemented its place in a modern wardrobe. Neat, often rendered in light or pastel shades and sometimes finished in high-shine patent, croc-stamped or glitzy fabrics, these feel like little party bags that are meant to be worn throughout the day.
Wanting to go out hands-free with very few belongings? There's a bag for that—a smartphone holder, to be precise. There's been a sharp rise in these being created by both luxury and high-street brands, and I have to admit that they do cater to my general daily needs. You can go for something plain and useful or something a bit silly, like Susan Fang's beaded iterations.
The pleated or ruched pouch was first popular in the '80s but has been reinvented for our age thanks to Bottega Veneta. The trend has filtered very quickly onto the high street, with many options coming in as clutches with additional crossbody straps. Neutral colours look the most expensive.
A trend spearheaded by Louis Vuitton for the season, these ultra-flat portfolio-style handbags also feel a little bit retro. Do they fit a lot? Probably not. But not every bag is born to carry all but the kitchen sink…