The new icons

We read between the stitches of five of the season’s (super)hero bags to explore how fashion houses are using their accessories to signpost what they stand for today, and what we can expect to see from them in years to come.

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The Pouch - Bottega Veneta

Creative Director Daniel Lee brought the buzz back to Bottega Veneta when he joined the brand in 2019, designing a streamlined collection of cool ready-to-wear pieces and accessories that has keep-forever, essential-worthy appeal. Bottega Veneta’s biggest accessory asset right now is The Pouch – a puffed-up, cloud-like clutch bag that’s had sell-out status since its debut on the catwalk in spring 2019. It was crafted in neutral shades of cream, camel and burgundy for AW19, and this season, its buttery-soft exterior has been updated to fresh pastel shades of lilac and turquoise. “We’re seeing a reinvention of house codes,” says Associate Editor Amy Sollitt. “What really works for Bottega – and will continue to work – is that these collections don’t feel ‘trend-led’. The focus is on continuation and longevity, which is kind of a trend in itself.”

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The Grace shoulder bag – Burberry

There was something missing from Riccardo Tisci’s Burberry ready-to-wear collection for Spring/Summer, which, to diehard fans of the brand, spoke volumes: the infamous Nova check. In its place were bold graphic elements, the brand’s new monogram print and a line-up of looks that blurred eveningwear and streetwear, marking a fresh new approach for the brand. It’s a smart approach to take; with the fashion industry’s focus on diversity and inclusion, Burberry is designing for a globalised – and more youth-oriented – market. This summer’s line-up of accessories has definitely been sprinkled with that special Gen-Z sauce; take, for instance, The Grace bag – the brand’s moniker has been splashed across its sleek, boxy shape and cut off at the edges. Proud of its name but moving in a new direction: here’s to another 164 years, Burberry…

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The textured leather tote – Loewe

For Loewe’s Spring/Summer ’20 campaign, Photographer Steven Meisel created a series of photographs, titled ‘A Show of Hands’. One particularly captivating image is of a tattooed fist, clutching a clump of grassy earth, arm raised upwards to the sky. Is this a show of solidarity to current political protests? A fist-bump to climate activism? The images are up for interpretation, but for us, Loewe’s strength lies in its mastery of the technical, and this season’s accessories are a reminder of its artisanal heritage – and a refreshing riposte to fast-fashion retail models. Last summer, Loewe’s woven raffia basket bag was everywhere, and for summer 2020, another woven wonder has come to the fore: the textured leather tote. A brilliant weaving together of black leather straps, this iteration of the basket bag feels sturdy, secure, and brilliantly made – a case-in-point for the importance of technical skill that’ll ensure a lifetime of good use. A fist-bump back to you, Loewe.

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Prada - crystal mini bags in blue, pink and silver

The crystal mini bag – Prada

We saw a bit of a break from the norm at Prada’s show for SS20, as it unveiled a collection more stripped-back than previous seasons. With Miuccia Prada’s mantra for this season being “reduce, reduce, reduce”, according to British Vogue, the line-up that followed focussed on personal style, rather than trends and the whiplash-inducing swing of ‘what’s in, what’s out, what’s cool, what’s-not-so-cool’. The mini crystal bags, though twinkling in the glory of early ‘00s maximalism, speaks to a timeless joy of personality-packed fashion. If you’re the type to buy things that reflect who you are and bring total joy, Prada’s got your back for the long-haul. 

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Prada - crystal mini bags in blue, pink and silver

…And now the future icon: The Rachel – By Far

Founded by twin sisters Sabrina Bezuhanova and Valentina Gyosheva, along with their sister-in-law Denitsa Bumbarova, By Far is a family business with a slick, Instagrammable edge. They’ve (double) tapped into an entirely modern take on how young women want to dress today – grid-friendly and heavy on the nostalgia. Of its cult collection of bags and shoes, The Rachel – a ‘90s-style, thin-strapped, narrow shoulder bag – is one of the most-popular, and this season it comes in a standout zebra print. By Far is unabashedly proud of its celebrity and influencer following, namechecking Gigi and Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner as fans of the brand, and so solidifying its ‘future icon’ status.

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Battle of the bags: Mini versus Maxi

Cats or dogs? Sweet or salty? Pasta or pizza? While we’re trying to be more down-the-middle about many aspects of life, certain cases demand decisiveness. That’s where we are right now, as Bag World is split into two camps: Team Mini and Team Maxi. Let’s unpack the stories behind both trends and declare this a trend battle. Yup, it’s handbags at dawn…

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