Craftsmanship counts. And the work done by handbag artisans can’t be replicated by a machine. As more processes become mechanized, handmade items are the most desirable. To ensure that your designer handbag has been cured, cut, and stitched with care, pick a style made in Europe – the home base of the powerhouse luxury brands.
You will never find hanging tags on these handbags. Each bag comes with serial numbers embossed on the inside. And the interior label is always evenly aligned.
The bales (the part that connects the handles to the bag) are one of the keys to authenticating a Balenciaga. The bales should be thick and rounded, not thin or square. The notches in the metal studs will be rounded, not square, as well.
When storing your handbag, add a little stuffing to help the bag maintain its shape. Instead of using newspaper, save packing materials like Bubble Wrap or large foam peanuts, which won’t attract moths or other critters.
While tucked away, store your handbag in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. If you have a dust bag, cover your handbag with it to keep the outside clean and fresh.
Handbags were often designed to be discreet and hidden in or under the ornate, sweeping skirts of the time.
After the French Revolution, slender neoclassical clothing brought about the handbag’s revival. Eventually, the English nicknamed handbags “reticules” and “indispensables,” solidifying their destiny as a staple accessory. While experts disagree on an exact date, the term “handbag” was born somewhere between the late 1800s and early 1900s, coinciding with the invention of train travel and its demand for handheld luggage.
Early 20th century:
After the Roaring Twenties hit, women no longer felt the need to harmonize their handbags with their outfits and turned to minimalist clutches instead, relinquishing Victorian embellishments. Fast-forward ten years and the shoulder bag, the satchel, and the clasp bag hit the mainstream. Handbags adopted a plastic, zippered style thanks to the eclectic art deco movement, which embraced abstract ideas and industrial materials.
1930s – 1940s:
When World War II drove American women into the workforce, comfortable, practical handbags with a militarized aesthetic became the most popular style.
Postwar prosperity pushed design houses like Chanel and Christian Dior into the spotlight. Designer handbags became as iconic as Grace Kelly, and her famous Hermès leather pocketbook was eventually renamed the Kelly bag in the 1970s. Accessorizing with a matching purse was the standard.
Youth culture embraced styles that complemented various fashion trends, like the miniskirt. As the value of individual expression through fashion soared with each passing decade, handbags finally found their niche as a statement accessory for any wardrobe or occasion.
The fashion industry soon became a target for notable feminists – a culprit of female suppression with its unrealistic beauty ideals. As women rejected things like makeup, bras, and purses, early 70s handbags were for functional use only, until disco came around and begged for something flashy. Labels were expensive and a fixation with logos opened the door for fake knockoffs to rush in.
Large flashy handbags experienced another resurgence as women moved up the corporate ladder. A sizable showy purse was an integral piece of the new power wardrobe. Handbags were worn to represent a kind of forceful, feminine success.
This decade brought with it a sensitive, spiritual awareness that embraced an earth-friendly ideal. In response, designers like Prada and kate spade new york championed a minimalist aesthetic that made handbags simple and practical, but still luxurious.
2000s & onward:
As logos were once again in vogue, design houses competed to have the It bag, placing handbags at the center of many fashion shows. Handbags became increasingly lucrative and, to this day, women everywhere eagerly anticipate the must-have bag of the season.