5 Anti-Trend Handbags From the '90s That Will Never Go Out of Style

a collage of '90s handbags on the runway and style set
(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight; @sobalera; @devapollon; @camillecharriere; @emnitta; @emilisindlev; Pictured: Coach S/S 24; Jil Sander F/W 24; Fendi S/S 24)

It's indisputable that not all trends stand the test of time. Mini bags? Cute until they don't fit your wallet. Oversize carryalls? Capricious at times. As hard as it can be to admit the truth, there comes a point when you realize that not every type of bag is worth buying into for the long haul. However, there is one category of purses that is worth purchasing: '90s handbags. Unlike other types of bags that may be beholden to the trend cycle, these bags are a testament to the enduring power of this fashion era.

After all, throughout the '90s, we saw some of the most consequential fashion aesthetics come to fruition, the boom of luxury houses, and the debut of some of the most beloved designer bags ever. With the latter, more specifically, so many shapes soared in popularity that they eventually became synonymous with the period. While we might now live in an entirely new era, these styles have remained an evergreen part of fashion. But you don't just have to take my word for it, as I've scoured the S/S 24 and F/W 24 runways to show the perennial relevance of these purses. Ahead, you'll find a breakdown of the five types of '90s handbags that are inherently anti-trend, with shopping recommendations, of course. Rest assured these bags beat out the rest.

1. East-West Bags

a collage of models and influencers carrying the '90s handbag trend: east-west purses

(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight; @annabelrosendahl; @thecarolinelin; PICTURED: Bottega Veneta S/S 24; Ferragamo S/S 24)

One of the defining features of all '90s handbags is that they typically have more compact shapes that can be easily nestled between the shoulders and ribcage. Case in point: the east-west shoulder bag. Characterized by its sleek, elongated shape, the east-west bag became popular in the '90s but has remained a steadfast part of fashion. Its unique shape has allowed it to be a continuous source of inspiration for designers, including in the more recent spring collections of Bottega Veneta, Alaïa, and Ferragamo. No matter what other bag trends are on the horizon, this style remains in plain sight.

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2. Baguette Bags

a collage of models and influencers wearing the '90s handbag trend: baguette purses

(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight; Courtesy of 16Arlington; @minahabchi; @emilisindlev; PICTURED: Givenchy S/S 24; 16Arlington S/S 24)

No other handbag is as widely associated with the '90s as the baguette. The compact, rectangular-shaped purse was first catapulted into the collective consciousness when it surfaced in Fendi's '97 collections. Since then, this bag has taken on a life of its own, as it's been donned by some of our most beloved cultural icons—ahem, Carrie Bradshaw. Plus, we've seen the style reinvented in various ways over the years, including in the recent Fendi, Givenchy, and Michael Kors spring collections, all of which modernized the baguette shape in their shows by playing with textiles, portions, colors, and even hardware. Through its continuous evolution, the baguette has secured its spot in the cultural zeitgeist and, subsequently, our closets.

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3. Barrel Bag

a collage of influencers and models wearing the '90s handbag trend: barrel shaped purses

(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight; @camillecharriere; @nnennaechem; PICTURED: Jil Sander F/W 24; Proenza Schouler F/W 24)

Although one might associate the '90s with rectangular handbag silhouettes, they were not the only silhouettes in style during that era. In fact, we saw another shape popularized during that period: the barrel bag, distinguished by its compact cylindrical shape typically made from canvas. Louis Vuitton first debuted the style in '96 with the release of its Papillon Bag. Since then, the curved shape has not only remained coveted among collectors but also been a continuous part of collections. Designers have given this shape a contemporary bend. Jil Sander's F/W 24 show adapted the shape with sharp edges. In contrast, Proenza Schouler used pops of color and plush leather to make the case for bringing back the barrel bag.

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4. Bowler Bags

a collage of models and influencers carrying the '90s handbag trend: bowler bags

(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight; @devapollon; @aishafarida; PICTURED: Coach S/S 24; Sandy Liang F/W 24)

While there's no denying that the majority of the most popular handbags to come out of the '90s were shoulder bags, there were a few noteworthy handheld shapes—the bowler, for example. As the moniker suggests, the retro shape derives its inspiration from the bowling bag; it features a flat bottom with a curved top that's adorned with top handles. The transition of the purse shape from being primarily associated with sports gear to becoming "high-fashion" was ushered in by the release of Dior's Vibe bag (released in '97) and Prada's bowler bag (released in '00). Since then, we've seen bowler bags continue to carve out their own lane in collections—refer to their recent inclusion in Coach's S/S 24 and Sandy Liang's F/W 24 shows as proof. No matter what other styles are in play for the season, this handbag trend will always be a strike.

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5. Crescent Bags

a collage of a women and influencers wearing '90s handbag trend: crescent-shaped purse

(Image credit: Launchmetrics Spotlight; @emnitta; @sobalera; PICTURED: Chloé F/W 24; Miu Miu S/S 24)

The final bag that's become synonymous with '90s style is the crescent bag. As the name suggests, the defining feature of this style is its shape, so the edges are often curved upward slightly or create a half-moon or egg-in-the-hole shape. While the shape first surfaced in the '60s, it wasn't until the late '90s that we really saw crescent bags captivate the fashion crowd. In part, the rise in popularity of this purse was due to the release of coveted styles such as Yves Saint Laurent's Mombasa Bag. However, it also has to do with the fact that designers have continually embraced crescent-shaped bags, including in recent S/S 24 and F/W 24 collections. From Bottega Veneta to Miu Miu to Chloé, there is no shortage of runway shows featuring this '90s-inspired handbag shape. Its presence was a reminder that all things circle back into style eventually—especially when they're as chic as this handbag.

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Jasmine Fox-Suliaman

Jasmine Fox-Suliaman is a fashion editor living in New York City. What began as a hobby (blogging on Tumblr) transformed into a career dedicated to storytelling through various forms of digital media. She started her career at the print publication 303 Magazine, where she wrote stories, helped produce photo shoots, and planned Denver Fashion Week. After moving to Los Angeles, she worked as MyDomaine's social media editor until she was promoted to work across all of Clique's publications (MyDomaine, Byrdie, and Who What Wear) as the community manager. Over the past few years, Jasmine has worked on Who What Wear's editorial team, using her extensive background to champion rising BIPOC designers, weigh in on viral trends, and profile stars such as Janet Mock and Victoria Monét. She is especially interested in exploring how art, fashion, and pop culture intersect online and IRL.