Refinery29 – M & S
Cart 0

Refinery29

5 Cult Brands On What Makes An 'It' Bag

What exactly makes an 'It' bag? Is a cult carryall a piece that possesses classic features and fabrics, or does its must-have nature lie in its ability to capture the zeitgeist? And is it the brand that makes it that way, or is it the person who carries it?

'It' bags certainly don't have to be functional — just look at 1995's Lady Dior, a gift from France's then first lady Bernadette Chirac to Princess Diana, which didn't hold more than the bare essentials. But in recent years, several brands have produced coveted and practical bags that have quickly made their way from the runway to the arms of street stylers to fast-fashion imitations: Phoebe Philo's structured Céline Luggage Tote caught the attention of everyone from dedicated Philophiles to Kim Kardashian, while Gucci's Marmont comes in all shapes and sizes — from top-handled to chain-laden shoulder-strapped to the belt bag — has defined the season.

To find out what truly defines an It bag, we quizzed five of the brands of the moment. From what makes a timeless piece to the styles you should invest in this season, we're breaking down the method to the It bag madness. Who knows, one of these could be a future classic.

Staud is the creation of Sarah Staudinger, former fashion director at Reformation, and her partner George Augusto. With clientele including Alexa Chung and Leandra Medine, the brand injects downtown L.A. vibes into its vintage-inspired pieces.

How would you describe Staud's approach to handbags?
"We believe in the idea that women today don't just want one bag for the season anymore. The Staud customer wants multiple bags a season, and to be able to change her bags with her outfits. We don't want her to have to choose just one, so we keep our prices low and our designs timeless."

In your opinion, what makes an 'It' bag?
"A unique design detail and something that can be worn diversely — day to night, a business meeting, a music festival. Anywhere she goes, it works."

How does a brand make a timeless classic?
"A design that withstands trends. One you can’t place in a decade by looking at it. It's elegant in shape and just practical enough."

What shapes, textures, and colors are you most excited for this season?
"Patent, PVC, and the color purple."

Which of your hero pieces should we should add to our wish list?
"The Shirley tote bag is my new favorite style, you basically get two bags in one. I take out the inner pouch and use it as a clutch from time to time — it makes day to night bag switches so easy."

Staud, $210, available at Staud

Most recognizable for its oversized pilgrim-esque buckle, BOYY, the New York-born brainchild of Jesse Dorsey and Wannasiri Kong, is a favorite of fashion editors and street style stars.

How would you describe the BOYY's approach to handbags?
"Our approach has always been that a woman’s handbag should have a masculine edge and plenty of paradox."

In your opinion, what makes an 'It' bag?
"It’s a style/design that somehow has the power to leave an undying memory, which then breeds desire."

How does a brand make a timeless classic?
"With incredible patience, blood, love, sweat, and tears."

What shapes, textures, and colors are you most excited for this season?
"We’re really having fun with our newest “YEUXLET ” collection of both shoes and bags, using primary shapes and colors, blurring the line between object and accessory. Also, our 'toys' series, which features wood rings and buckles, is a direct ode to the boundless fun and joy of raising our first child, who was a year old at the time of design."

Which of your hero pieces should we should add to our wish list?
"Our spring 'color block' series; they're like an accessory cocktail of Miró and Mondrian — on the rocks."

Boyy, $1035, available at Boyy

Amsterdam-based Wandler was founded by Elza Wandler, whose background lies in men's accessories. The trapeze-shaped Hortensia has become a permanent fixture of our Instagram feeds, and for good reason.

How would you describe Wandler's approach to handbags?
"With each bag, I try to challenge myself and play with finding an equal balance of feminine and clean-androgynous. Directional, clear in shape and function, and a dynamic use of colors lead throughout my collections."

In your opinion, what makes an 'It' bag?
"Unique outspoken shapes and/or colors."

How does a brand make a timeless classic?
"I can't give the correct answer to this. Your goal is to make a classic with a design that can live forever, but you can only know if you achieved this after several years. I guess timeless pieces always have a certain simpleness in their design."

What shapes, textures, and colors are you most excited for this season?
"For spring 2018, I have some really cool printed croc leather in colors like a soft pink and a sage (ocean green). For pre-fall, I have some crazy textures in shiny goat leather."

Which of your hero pieces should we should add to our wish list?
"The Hortensia bag medium in orange."

Wandler, $800, available at Wander

Danse Lente (which means "slow dance" in French) is Youngwon Kim's London-based brand that brings together experimental features and classic shapes, making for thoroughly modern accessories.

How would you describe Danse Lente's approach to handbags?
"From a design point of view, I usually focus on creating the impression of being different by twisting some familiar details of what we already know in handbags. Technically, we have worked very hard to develop a new approach to hardware and have tried to bring some strong contrast in colorblocking. An overarching focus remains to ensure we provide quality at an affordable price point for our consumers."

In your opinion, what makes an 'It' bag?
"It’s difficult to describe because it’s so personalized to the individual’s style. However, I believe that an ‘It’ bag is something that's timeless but with an edge, be it in the shape, color, or materials."

How does a brand make a timeless classic?
"It has more to do with instinct. Basically, I make mock-up samples and go through the process of reflection and modification in my own ways. In doing that, it filters out and leaves the essence of good lines and details that are less likely to get tired. I suppose that enables me to get a step closer to creating a timeless design."

What shapes, textures, and colors are you most excited for this season?
"We introduced shearling for pre-fall '18, which is really exciting; it’s a new material that we haven’t used before and it adds a great texture to the bags. Our color palette focuses on emerald green, blush pink, dark navy, okra, and varying shades of tan."

Which of your hero pieces should we should add to our wish list?
"It’s really difficult for me to select just one, but I love the new pre-fall styles, Bobbi and Margot!"

Danse Lente, $455, available at Danse Lente

Matt & Nat has been creating vegan bags since its inception in 1995. Designing directional pieces in trend-led shades, the Canadian brand brings an ethical alternative to your wardrobe.

How would you describe Matt & Nat's approach to handbags?
"We want to reinvent people’s perceptions of vegan handbags and accessories. No one should have to compromise their personal style for their values or vice versa. We love minimalist design with maximalist functionality."

In your opinion, what makes an 'It' bag?
"The inspiration of our brand is infused in the name MAT(T)erial and NATure, and exploring the synergy between the two. We have and will forever be committed to not using leather or any other animal-based materials in our designs. Each season, we continue to explore and utilize innovative ways to improve their sustainability while still producing high quality and timeless products. In our opinion, that's an 'It' bag!"

How does a brand make a timeless classic?
"Listening to our clients, year over year, to find out what their daily needs are, we refine our best-selling designs. Great design solves complex problems in a beautiful way."

What shapes, textures, and colors are you most excited for this season?
"The collection has four different materials: dwell, vintage, loom, and cork. These all include a range of different colors, including our favorite which is the 'chili,' a lovely vintage tan color.

"Our signature dwell collection is composed of 100% PVC that is soft, textured, and rich-looking, creating a classic finish. Pieces from our vintage collection are sturdy and strong, retaining shape and aging gracefully with time. The loom collection is light and supple, allowing for a less structured design and a smooth, soft finish. Made of 100% PU, this collection represents our beliefs towards building a more sustainable future. All of our linings are made of 100% recycled plastic bottles (we recycle around three million a year)."

Which of your hero pieces should we should add to our wish list?
"Definitely the Brave — it's our bestseller!"

Matt & Nat, $145, available at Matt & Nat

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

Under-$10 Valentine's Day Gifts That Don't Suck

Where To Buy The Sunglasses You're Seeing All Over Instagram

20+ Valentine's Day Gifts That Aren't Obvious

Read more →


Turns Out Disco Isn't Dead: The Return Of Glittery Fashion

For over a decade, minimalism has dominated on the catwalks. From Céline to Jil Sander and The Row, TKTKTK. But whether it's down to the Alessandro Michele/Gucci effect or a simple desire for bolder and brighter clothing for the visually-led Instagram generation, maximalism is alive and well. And though '70s-inspired silhouettes and prints have trickled down from high-fashion to fast-fashion over the past few years, the last couple of seasons have seen an '8os revival with the resurgence of high-octane glamour, glitter, sequins, and feathers. Turns out disco isn't dead.

Left: Halpern Leopard Sequin Open Back Top, $1,670, available at Browns Fashion; Halpern High-rise Sequin-embellished Skinny Trousers, $2,070, available at MatchesFashion.com; Marques ' Almeida shoes. Right: Ashish skirt.

The proof of their popularity is in the numbers: Data from global platform Lyst revealed that searches for sequins increased by 42% in the second half of 2017, likely a result of the spring 2018 shows last September, where the industry's obsession with decadent details hit fever pitch.

“The resurgence of disco is largely thanks to designers’ current fascination with the late '80s and early '90s," Lisa Aiken, fashion director at Net-A-Porter, explained. "The spring 2018 shows were awash with references from Lady Diana to Pretty Woman and the Supers, all reimagined as a vintage mash-up to appeal to the It girl of 2018 — think Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, or Kaia Gerber, who we imagine will be wearing so many of these looks." She adds that evening wear is one of the site's fastest growing categories, and that sequins, crystals, and feathers are all key elements of that. "In terms of fabrications, designers are pushing the boundaries.”

Ashley Williams dress and earrings; Dior shoes; Delfina Delettrez rings.

Sequins were aplenty at Gucci, Marc Jacobs, Molly Goddard, and, of course, Halpern, where 30-year-old designer Michael Halpern is at the center of this renewed interest in shimmering embellishments, unabashed elegance, and hyper-femininity. Then, naturally, there was London Fashion Week favorite, Ashish, who's TKTK. “Sequins have always been a protest for me," the designer said after his spring 2018 show. "It’s always been a revolution for me. A protest against blandness.” Adored for his explosively colorful and creative use of the small shiny discs throughout his career, Ashish's latest collection was considerably darker and dreamier, though that didn't stop it from shining. "We live in dark times. It was that Martin Luther King quote that in darkness, you see stars; it’s about finding hope in dark times. I wanted to channel that energy into something beautiful," he affirmed backstage. "I just felt like I don’t want to be celebrating colors because everything that is going on is just so dark. But in that darkness is hope, so there are still a million sparkles and sequins."

Left: Halpern High-rise Sequin-embellished Skinny Trousers, $2,070, available at MatchesFashion.com; Marques ' Almeida shoes. Right: Dior dress.

Ida Petersson, buying director at Browns Fashion echoes Ashish's sentiments with the idea that the prevalence of color, texture, and glitter on the runways is a reaction to the relentless tragedy and global upheaval of the past few years — and a nod to happier times. "Designers are injecting some fun into their collections for spring '18, and I couldn’t think of anything better than an abundance of sequins," she says. "Creating a party mood is almost a way of giving the finger to all the madness that happened in 2017, and a nod to a fantastic era where everything for a few years was just fabulous. This season's mantra seems to be the glitzier the better."

Mimi Wade top; Marques ’ Almeida skirt.
Ryan Lo dress.

Beyond sequins, feathers, too, popped up on numerous occasions (the look even fluttered over to the resort 2018 season, when Prada showed chiffon and organza dresses enhanced with sequin details and feather hems). At Anthony Vaccarello's ultra-glamorous collection for Saint Laurent, clothes were adorned with ostrich feathers, as were pieces at Maison Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, Nina Ricci, and Ashley Williams, who offered a more dressed-down, everyday take on the trend.

Meanwhile, label Marques ' Almeida included a little bit of everything for spring '18, making for not just an eclectic collection, but one that emphasized the powers of these over-the-top embellishments. In the show notes, the design duo explained: "We’ve been thinking a lot about the expectations on girls and women and everything they're expected to do. You're expected to be great at your job, build a successful career but you can't leave behind your personal life and should be able to have a family and look after your family and look amazing while doing everything, whether you’re a teenager, a mum of three in Mid Town America, a 60-year-old retired business woman or an artist. This collection feels so free and so full of different references to so many different amazing women."

Left: Ryan Lo dress, Christian Louboutin mules; Right: Ashley Williams hair slides.

As Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida so pertinently put it, when women are being pulled in so many different directions, fashion ought to be freeing. In such turbulent sociopolitical times, we ought to celebrate individualism, energy, creativity, and optimism, and our wardrobe can and should be an instantly gratifying and uplifting outlet for such. Sequins, sparkle, and texture offer an opportunity for self-expression, projecting hope as immediate mood-enhancers. It certainly feels timely to turn away from the austere, pared-back designs we adored in the '90s and '00s and revel in sequins and feathers. They may be extravagant, but we're all for clothing that brings us happiness. Now all we have to do is embrace the return of glitter with open arms.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

Dreaming About Your Spring Wardrobe? Yeah, So Are We

You Knew It Was Coming: The Naked Wedding Dress Is Now A Thing

Feast Your Eyes On These Gloriously Extra Valentino Gowns

Read more →


Where To Buy The Sunglasses You're Seeing All Over Instagram

Welcome to our new bi-weekly column, Insta-Bait, where we highlight the brands taking over our feeds right now — because Instagram isn't just a place where we DM memes to our friends and double-tap our style icons' most on-point outfits, it's where we discover new labels on the regular.

Anyone familiar with a good #OOTD knows it's often sunglasses that make the look. You may have your coat tossed over your shoulders and a baby bag in hand, but to really get the perfect picture, you need to top it all off with a pair of on-trend shades.

Over the past few year we've been seeing everything from super-skinny, Matrix -style frames to the Kurt Cobain-inspired oval ones, and it turns out there's one brand that's pretty much responsible for them all. Sunglasses brand Raen is seeing some major attention on Instagram — and it's probably because it makes sunglasses trendy enough to photograph, but wearable enough to want to never take off. Plus, its shapes have been getting some love from celebrities and influencers alike, from Jordyn Woods to Olivia Wilde to writer Marjon Carlos.

So if you've been wondering where everyone you follow on Instagram has been getting those sick rectangular specs or everyday black frames, look no further than Raen. Click ahead to see its sshades in action — and scoop up a pair or two while you're at it. It may be winter, but that doesn't mean your sunglasses game shouldn't be on point.

Raen Ashtray Sunglasses, $150, available at Raen.

Raen Ashtray Sunglasses, $150, available at Raen.

Raen Potrero Sunglasses, $185, available at Raen.

Raen Ashtray Sunglasses, $150, available at Raen.

Raen Figurative Sunglasses, $150, available at Raen.

Raen Ashtray Sunglasses, $150, available at Raen.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

5 Cult Brands On What Makes An 'It' Bag

Under-$10 Valentine's Day Gifts That Don't Suck

20+ Valentine's Day Gifts That Aren't Obvious

Read more →


Under-$10 Valentine's Day Gifts That Don't Suck

If money were no object, we'd all be gifting our better halves with designer goods or surprising them with spontaneous trips to Fiji. But this is the real world, and that kind of love doesn't come cheap. For couples (whether established, in that weird in between space, or just life-long BFFs) celebrating Valentine's Day with whatever type of date you've got planned will likely cost a pretty penny. Even if you're going for a more chill vibe, an affordable gift seems like a better idea than draining your bank account before the second month of the year really gets underway.

To help you keep your budget as in-sync as your relationship, we've rounded up a few stellar gifts for under $10. In case you're dubious, this isn't a list of boxes of chocolates and lower-shelf bottles of wine. The goods ahead are thoughtful, quirky, and unique — just like the one you love.

If your girl is always complaining about losing her hair ties, here's one she's less likely to misplace.

Free People, $8, available at Free People

Related Video

appearance by Lucie Fink.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

5 Cult Brands On What Makes An 'It' Bag

Where To Buy The Sunglasses You're Seeing All Over Instagram

20+ Valentine's Day Gifts That Aren't Obvious

Read more →


Under-$150 Date Dresses Just In Time For Valentine's Day

February 14 can feel like a money pit. Regardless of how you spend the holiday (Dinner? Movies? Drinks? Dancing? Partner yoga? Takeout?), you're going to be spending on the holiday. And lest you forget, you'll need an outfit to wear too. While you could just recycle that red mini dress you’ve worn for five years straight, Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to dress to impress — whether you're fancying up for your partner or hosting a movie marathon with your three best friends.

But pulling out all the stops for jaw-dropping look doesn’t necessarily mean pulling out all the cash in your wallet. To prove it's easy to look great without draining your piggy bank, we rounded up a selection of chic dresses that each ring in under-$150. Click through now to find the one that will make your V-Day that much sweeter.

Related Video

appearance by Asia Feliciano.

Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here?

5 Cult Brands On What Makes An 'It' Bag

Under-$10 Valentine's Day Gifts That Don't Suck

Where To Buy The Sunglasses You're Seeing All Over Instagram

Read more →