I feel like I might weep tears of joy into my flat white as I write this piece because, though we're only a few months into 2019, I can feel a real sense of positive change happening in the fashion industry. Yes, that's right—2019 is the year of sustainability in fashion, and the proof isn't just coming from "industry experts" or business reports as you might expect. It's coming directly from emerging designers and brands.
When I started researching the best new bag brands for this piece, I began where I often do for brand discovery: scrolling through Instagram. In diving deeper into the many popular new bags the fashion set is carrying, I was overwhelmed by the pattern I saw among each of the different brands' ethos: The coolest new bags on Instagram share the common thread of sustainability at the core of their brands.
Though there are a number of requirements to becoming a 100% sustainable fashion brand (similar to being able to label food "organic"), many of the practices inherent to these brands are a major step in the right direction. These include prioritising artisan craft, quality production, ethical material sourcing and timeless designs—with each brand imbuing their personal, diverse experiences into the bags. Handbags are more of an investment piece by nature, and these brands offer an opportunity to literally carry their story with you every day.
Whether they are completely transparent about their production process or simply aiming to create pieces to last decades in both style and quality, you can be assured that these nine new bag brands are leading the way to a more sustainable future—and in style, of course. Keep scrolling to discover the new bag brands we love right now and shop the key styles from each one.
Finally available in the UK via BrownsFashion.com (who are stocking just a couple of choice styles right now), we've been longing for a long, long time for this French brand to make its way into our closets.
Elleme comes direct from the hippest part of Paris, Le Marais, and the brand was founded by Jingjing Fan. It's appreciated for its simple, practical, roomy and curvacious styles. The raffia pieces look set to be particularly popular for summer 2019.
Pay attention to Stée, people. Seriously. Designer Estelle Orilland has previously worked at major design houses like Chloé, Yves Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and Marni, creating some of their most iconic styles in recent years. Her new creations are equal parts innovative as they are quality and each bag is named after Orilland's daughter and her friends. The Neo bag is already a street style star, while Ruth makes for a gorgeous everyday accessory.
Ratio et Motus, launched last year by Angela Wang and Daniel Li in New York, is about the balance of reason and emotion. Timeless and versatile, they harken to old Celine or even Grace Kelly in Rear Window. Simply, they are forever bags.
Medea is already being hailed It-bag brand of 2019, probably because its bags are being toted by everyone from mega influencers to Rihanna. Designed by Italian sisters Camilla and Giulia Venturini, the leather shoppers come in many brilliant shades and various shapes, so there's definitely one just for you.
With a mission to promote fair labour practices in Indonesia, Alfeya Valrina is already off to a great start as an emerging designer. Add her background and training from the Fashion Institute of Technology and a heavy dose of cool and you have her brilliant collection of bags that come in a rainbow of colours.
Inné was born out of the desire to keep the art of Filipino craftsmanship alive, with the added modernity of transparent and sustainable practices. The woven detail on the Sia shopper makes it a sellout style while the macramé totes are a very chic version of last summer's popular net bags.
I have a huge crush on Imago-A, having first discovered its perfectly shaped shoulder bags and then realising I wanted every bag in the collection. The brand's designs are built upon "geometric and sculptural shapes that are both original and functional," which each style speaks to in detail.
If I Fell by Ashli Fell in New York is brand I am keeping my eye on after discovering it through stylist Sissy Sainte-Marie's Instagram. Her signature Fell bag is designed to be seasonless and works for any occasion—no matter which colour you pick.
Designer Marina Raphael has a lot going right. With design in her DNA (she is of the Swarovski family), she is still completing a degree in business while creating her luxury brand. The bags remind me of elevated holiday totes and feature shapes in warm terra-cotta tones and woven leathers.
Rylan was founded by Australian influencer Brooke Testoni last year and is already a massive hit. These have been championed by Moda Operandi's Fashion Director, Lisa Aiken for their vintage feel. The rattan style keeps selling out, so keep your eyes open for its restock.
If mini bags are your jam, then this is the new handbag name to know. Set up by Central Saint Martins graduate Haya Al Abdulkareem a few years ago, it's really the past few months that has seen this indie label shoot up into the bloggersphere. In fact, everyone from Monikh in London to Eleonora Carisi in Milan to Carmen Hamilton in Sydney has one of their little loop-handled bucket bags. It's called the Kyklos, and it comes with a handy long strap too—perfect for those of us who don't like to carry everything but the kitchen sink.