Before we dive in, take a moment to reflect on what makes a bag worth investing in. Everyone's answer to that question is varied. For some, it's based on a bag's popularity or whether it will retain value over time. Others might take it literally and base it upon how much they spend (or don't) on the item. But I'd like to propose a different way of thinking about designer bags; instead of thinking solely about the price tag, think about the person behind the bag.
There's a long list of designers redefining how we view luxury handbags, but none in my mind have led this charge better than JW Anderson. While the brand has been around for over 15 years, its founder has been behind some of the buzziest bags in recent memory. The receipts for this influence can be found within years of media, including television shows, street-style shots, and runway and red-carpet images. But I won't make you do all the heavy research. Ahead, I'm sharing everything you need to know about the history of his luxury fashion house. Plus, I've curated a list of the seven best JW Anderson bags you can buy for the long haul. If you thought you knew how you defined luxury, prepare for Anderson to blow your mind.
About JW Anderson
Photo:Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images; Launchmetrics Spotlight; PICTURED: (bottom left): Jonathan Anderson; JW Anderson F/W 23 Collection; (top right): Sarah Jessica Parker in And Just Like That
Even if you're not fully dialed into the fashion world, you likely have already come into contact with the work of JW Anderson. Born in North Ireland, the London-based designer has shifted the collective subconscious of the fashion world through his thought-provoking and often surrealist ready-to-wear collections. He began his career by studying at the London College of Fashion and went on to work under fellow legends like Miuccia Prada. After a few years of cutting his teeth, he launched his namesake menswear label at London Fashion Week in 2008.
His work was met with such enthusiasm that two years after the brand's launch, he expanded into womenswear, and then two years after that, accessories were launched in 2012. Over the years, Anderson's work has received noteworthy financial backing and honors, including the British Fashion Council's Emerging Talent Award, Menswear and Womenswear Designer of the Year, and Accessories Designer of the Year. Anderson secured a coveted investment from LVMH and an appointment as the creative director of the Spanish fashion house Loewe in 2013. All this is to say that Anderson has the accolades to back up the buzz.
But the hype isn't what makes his work poignant (though it helps); Anderson's appeal is his ability to spark conversation through clothing. And while all of his collections can no doubt light up the internet, his handbags have a grip on the culture that's unmatched. For example, the viral pigeon clutch bag that Carrie Bradshaw carried in the second season of And Just Like That? Anderson's brainchild. Loewe's now famous puzzle bag? It was the first new bag to be released from the brand in 33 years after Anderson took the helm. By all accounts, Anderson's bags aren't just another It bag. They're the purses that permeate pop culture. Need proof? Keep reading as I've done deep research to identify the best bags from this iconic designer.
Keep scrolling to see the more practical JW Anderson bags, which make for the best long-term investment.
7. JW Anderson Pierce Bag
Photo:Launchmetrics Spotlight; @symphonyofsilk
We couldn't pay homage to some of the best JW Anderson bags without mentioning the style that put the brand's accessories offering on the map: the Pierce Bag. It's worth noting that in the beginning, most of the critical acclaim that surrounded the label was about the designer's ready-to-wear collections. It wasn't until 2014, four years after launching womenswear accessories, that we saw the brand release the first bag to reach cult status among the fashion set. What made the Pierce bag so alluring at the time was its boxy shape and signature barbell hardware. It was the type of bag that came in so many variations (from various sizes to colors to fabrications) that it was no surprise it gained such quick fandom. While the style was discontinued in 2022, its impact is foundational to the history of this fashion house.
6. JW Anderson Cap
Photo:Launchmetrics Spotlight; PICTURED: JW Anderson F/W 20 Collection
Aligned with Anderson's fanciful aesthetic, the cap bag is arguably one of the brand's most recognizable bags. Released as part of the designer's F/W 19 collection, the style drew inspiration from a baseball cap and quickly caught the attention of the fashion set. What's made this bag so enduring among women and men is the fact it's not only an item bound to turn heads (excuse the pun) but a far more practical bag than you'd think. The cap bag comes in two different sizes, including mini and medium. Both are roomy enough to fit the essentials and feature a wrap-around zipper. Additionally, the bag comes with a removable strap that's long enough to be styled as a crossbody or shoulder bag, making it easy to wear in everyday life.
5. JW Anderson Belt Tote Bag
While Anderson's more whimsical bags may have captivated the imagination of the fashion set since its inception, its more practical styles are just as noteworthy. It should be noted that every luxury brand that has a handbag line has released its form of a functional carry-all tote, but one could argue that none are as fun as JW Anderson's Belt Tote. Released as a part of the brand's S/S 18 collection, the bag's silhouette is a classic tote shape, but it has some of the signature touches of surrealism that Anderson does so well.
For example, rather than creating another tote with a traditional leather or canvas strap, Anderson's bag features a strap that resembles a belt. Additionally, while most logo-adorned totes are covered to the brim with branding, this bag features the brand's anchor moniker (sometimes embroidered on) that feels more art-adjacent than other monogram carry-alls. While the sizing doesn't vary too much, the fabrications do, as you can shop it in everything from recycled felt to crinkled leather. These small touches make this bag not just another designer tote but something truly special.
Photo:Launchmetrics Spotlight; @venswifestyle
One thing that has distinguished JW Anderson's bag offering from so many other brands is the designer's ability to take functionality and add a fashionable twist. No other bag speaks to Anderson's innate talent to do just that than the Twister Bag. Initially released as a part of the brand's S/S 15 and again in its F/W 21 collection, the style is distinguished by its compact rectangular shape and soft twisted handle. What's great about this bag is that it has all the trappings of an excellent utilitarian handbag but with a few zesty elements too.
On the functional side of things, this bag is available in three various sizes, including large, medium, and mini. It has an embossed blind logo, so it's not too flashy for everyday wear (aka its peak low-key luxury). Plus, it comes with a detachable strap allowing it to be styled as a shoulder and crossbody bag. If that wasn't enough to sell you, look at the various colorways and materials this bag comes in, including butter yellow leather, baby pink faux fur, and jet black leather embellished with crystals. Consider it confirmation that functional bags can be fun if they're given a twist.
3.JW Anderson Chain Hobo Bag
Photo:@venswifestyle; Launchmetrics Spotlight; @venswifestyle; PICTURED: JW Anderson S/S 24 Collection
The Twister bag isn't the only JW Anderson style that links functionality with fashion. The Chain Hobo Bag debuted on the F/W 22 runway and pays homage to the slouchy handbag with Anderson's signature touches of eccentricity. While the bag is as practical as other hobo bags—it's spacious enough to fit your work essentials like a laptop—the timeless silhouette is given an edgier take by Anderson with sharper edges, an oversized chain link strap, and an adjustable knot that allows the bag to fit snuggly or loosely around the shoulder. Additionally, the style comes in various colorways, including turquoise, lavender, black, white, and even some adorned with the brand's moniker or hand-painted prints making it a bag that works for anyone's wardrobe.
2. JW Anderson Anchor Bag
Akin to the Fendi Baguette or the Gucci Horsebit 1955, the JW Anderson Anchor bag is the brand's version of the compact shoulder bag. But make no mistake, while this bag may draw inspiration from the classic rectangular shape, it's far from reductive. In fact, this bag is so revolutionary because Anderson has found ways to reinvent the style over the years through minor tweaks. The first iteration of this bag was found in the brand's F/W15 collection and was identifiable by its centrally-placed hardware in the shape of the brand's iconic anchor logo. Since then, the style has adapted to include a chunky chain strap, an almost-invisible enamel-coated logo, and various colorways and sizes, proving that Anderson knows how to take the most timeless bag silhouettes and make them thrilling again.
1. JW Anderson Bumper Bag
And lastly, it would not be a roundup of the best JW Anderson bags if we didn't mention one of the most exciting drops to come out of the British fashion house in recent memory. Drumroll, please... meet the Bumper Bag. Despite making its debut on the S/S 23 runway, this bag style quickly garnered cult status among the celeb and fashion set—fans include Dua Lipa, Emrata, and Rina Sawayama for the record. But it's not just this bag's meteoric rise in popularity that makes it such a sound purchase at this moment and beyond. Instead, the bag's idiosyncratic shape encapsulates Andreson's entire design perspective—i.e., he can take the seemingly "mundane" and transform it into something magical.
For this bag, Anderson drew inspiration from inverted travel pillows, hence the dramatic bumper edge filled with tubing, to create this bag. The bag comes in multiple silhouettes (including a baguette, clutch, and crescent shape), numerous sizes, various colorways, and textures. Of course, the style is eclectic; it's not your run-of-the-mill designer bag, but that is what makes it a worthwhile purchase. So much of Anderson's work taps into our collective imagination, and a single price tag can't fully encapsulate the added value of that type of creativity.
More Noteworthy Styles...
Consider this your final reminder that while I've highlighted some of the more popular JW Anderson handbags above, you should buy a style that speaks to you. The great thing about this brand is that it offers so many different types of bags, and they all make great long-term investments. Keep scrolling to see a few more noteworthy styles.