From blockbuster fashion houses to boutiques, the best luxury handbag brands create timeless accessories that transcend trends while capturing the imagination with fresh appeal.
While sunglasses, scarves and shoes all have their moments, the luxury handbag holds its reputation as the world’s most coveted accessory. Swung from the arms of celebrities, politicians and mere mortals like you and I, they signify both style and status. They’re identity statements and deeply personal too, practical pockets concealing our most precious possessions. Provided you choose wisely, they can be a clever investment piece that will stand the test of time too. We’ve selected ten of the best luxury handbag brands available today, based on range, heritage and value. While none of these brands could be described as cheap, some are surprisingly affordable.
While Aigner may not have quite the same clout as haute couture houses like Chanel and Dior, it’s still one of the best luxury handbag brands around. Founded by the Hungarian designer Etienne Aigner, by the 1970s it had become popular amongst Munich’s jet set. Fifty years later, it still represents timeless design, high quality and impeccable craftsmanship. It’s created an icon in itself too, the ‘Cybill Bag’, made with soft grain cowhide leather. There are around 100 stores around the world, but it’s possible to pick up second-hand and nearly-new bags for a fraction of the retail price online. From $150.
No list of luxury handbag designers would be complete without Chanel, possibly the most recognisable luxury brand in the world. Coco Chanel made her name in perfume, but when she launched her iconic 2:55 handbag in 1955, a new precedent was set. It was the first handbag to feature a shoulder strap, which gave women newfound freedom of mobility. Apparently, the secret zip pocket was intended to store secret love letters too. More than seven decades later, Chanel handbags are just as popular. Vintage versions are almost always more expensive than newer versions too, so they’re a real investment piece. From $609.
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For over a century, Gucci has produced some of the world’s best-looking handbags. The signature ‘double G’ iconography is instantly recognisable, even more so in the wake of Lady Gaga’s recent appearance in ‘House of Gucci’. Today the brand is retail gold and its most iconic bags – the Dionysus, GG, Marmot and Zumi – have held their value over the years. Since Alessandro Michele took the reigns in 2015, the brand has gone from strength to strength, becoming one of the world’s top-selling designer brands too. From $209.
Hermès is one of the oldest luxury brands in the world, but it didn’t start making handbags until 1900. Since then, it’s gifted us with some of the most iconic bags of all time, including the Kelly and the Constance. But its most famous bag is still the Birkin. According to the legend, in 1983 then-director Jean Louis Dumas designed the silhouette on a flight from Paris to London. Jane Birkin, who was sitting next to him, dropped her papers on the floor, then proclaimed that no bag ever had enough pockets. The rest is history. Three decades on, the Birkin is still one of the most sought-after luxury handbags in the world thanks to its limited availability and timeless good looks. Bags from $754.
Founded in 1993, Kate Spade is renowned for luxury leather handbags and purses. One of the first in a wave of American contemporary designers in the 1990s, Kate Spade’s playful brand is designed to make people smile. Designs are carefree and colourful, often inspired by retro prints and shapes. There’s a wide range of styles available, from sleek bucket bags and totes to trendy crossbody and shoulder bags. While they’re expertly crafted and made from high-quality materials, the bags are surprisingly affordable too, creating an accessible entry point for young women to enter the realms of designer gear. Bags from $100.
JW Pei is an affordable luxury vegan brand that specialises in handbags. The Los Angeles-based business was founded by a husband and wife duo with the aim to make fashion accessible, effortless and empowering. Since the brand launched in 2017, JW Pei has featured in the world’s most famous fashion magazines and their handbags have swung from the arms of everyone from Gigi Hadid to Megan Fox to Emily Ratajkowski. Minimal aesthetics, combined with planet-friendly credentials and fun, feminine designs, have made the brand an Insta hit. When the brand first started selling on Amazon, bags sold out within a day. From $79.99
A staple for the style-conscious, Louis Vuitton is renowned for its high-quality craftsmanship and classic design. While they certainly aren’t the cheapest handbags out there, designs are guaranteed to stand the test of time, which makes them excellent investment pieces too. The brand launched its first handbags in the early 19th century and since then the signature LV handbags have graced the sculpted arms of countless celebrities, from Jackie Kennedy to Kate Moss. There are now dozens of ranges to choose from, but Speedy, Alma and Neverfull continue to be the biggest sellers. From $408.
Launched in 2012, the brand began with just a bucket bag and a tote bag – and the world went wild for them. Their bags have redefined luxury through a striking approach to colour and form, with distinctive silhouettes that are instantly recognisable by those in the know too. Even their understated clutch bags have been lauded for their dreamy, cloud-like silhouettes. Mansur Gavriel hasn’t just built a reputation on aesthetics either, the Italian brand is renowned for using high-quality materials, such as supple lambskin leather, and faultless craftsmanship. Bags from $108.
Created by a husband and wife design team in Edinburgh in 2013, Strathberry offers serious style points for your buck. Beloved by Meghan Markle, the luxury handbags blend Scottish heritage with Spanish craftsmanship. Each bag can take up to 20 hours to make and ranges are strictly limited, adding to its exclusivity. But unlike major fashion houses, they’re not totally inaccessible either, with many priced under $500. Sustainability is important to the brand too, with leather sourced responsibly in a socially responsible environment and silk linings printed with digital printing technology. Bags from $266.
Inspired by the palaces, gardens and mosques of Tehran, Isfahan and Shiraz, Tara Zadeh is one of the world’s hottest new luxury handbag designers. Each handbag features a unique character, much like the Iranian architecture that inspired it. While no two bags are the same, they’re all characterized by strong symmetric lines, geometric forms and bold colours. Handbags are made of the finest materials in Italy and Spain too. The Azar clutch is now a cult classic on Instagram and instantly recognizable by its round shape, easy-to-wear and eyecatching design. Bags from $130.