I'm a Fashion Editor, and These Are My All-Time Favourite Handbag Brands

If you're a woman with a heart that beats for fashion, then it's likely you have a not-so-guilty preference for one particular type of fashion item. Some girls can't resist a new pair of earrings, others find the allure of a fresh jumper all too tempting to avoid. I'd say I'm a "shoe person” and have little to no control when I stumble upon a pair of heels that talk to my innermost desires.

Conversely, being a shoe person has made me really good at buying bags (let me explain). Since I'll fall for almost any fancy piece of footwear that looks at me the right way, I’m far more discerning when it comes to handbags.

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(Image credit: Michaela Efford)

Carrying a new bag brand called Mandel at London Fashion Week

This means I'm fussy in many ways. My bags have to be versatile, well-made, current and yet with the potential to last season after season. I don't love them unconditionally just because they're new or pretty; they have to earn a place in my wardrobe. As such, I've become well acquainted with some of the best handbags in the business.

From affordable options that genuinely look more expensive (and won't fall apart after a few wears) to the designer names that are actually worth spending your paycheque on, these are my recommendations for every handbag category…

The Best Luxury Handbag Brands:

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(Image credit: @hannahalmassi)

This is my favourite little black bag. It's by Prada and goes with every work outfit.

First things first: If you're going to spend big bucks, please do so on something that will last. I'm not into putting down a wad of cash on something that will only look current for a season—my clothes, bags and shoes all have to work hard for the money.

With that in mind, I think there are certain luxury brands that are renowned for their top-quality leather goods as well as being able to tap into the fashion zeitgeist and produce something that feels at once current and timeless. Clever.

This designer handbag list could go on forever because it's such a competitive market and there are so many options available, but I have narrowed it down to a mere six to help in your search.

1. Prada

2. Bottega Veneta

3. Demellier

4. Loewe

5. Saint Laurent

6. Gucci

7. Fendi

8. Chloé

9. Mulberry

10. Hermès

11. Celine

12. The Row

The Best Contemporary Handbag Brands:

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(Image credit: @hannahalmassi)

Elleme's raffia Baozi bag

This is the part of the handbag industry that's been hotting up for years. Hitting around the £300 to £600 mark, new designer brands you can perhaps afford have been cropping up every season. With more to come for the rest of this year, it's clear that both retailers and shoppers are responding with some real zeal.

Once upon a time, this corner of the market was pretty empty (you could maybe get something around this price point from Marc Jacobs or See by Chloé), but now, it's hard to filter my favourites down into something digestible for you and your wardrobe. I've given it my best shot by grouping together the best contemporary bags I've invested in as well as the favourites amongst my fellow editors.

13. Aspinal of London

14.Oroton

15. Wandler

16. Toteme

17. Elleme

18. Dragon Diffusion 

19. By Far

20. Marni Market

Best Affordable Handbag Brands:

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(Image credit: @hannahalmassi)

My cat, Folly, and a cute beaded bag from Topshop.

Buying expensive-looking handbags on the high street is still—even in 2024—really difficult. I think it's best to go one of two ways: Either opt for something really minimal (and ideally made of suede or leather) or choose to indulge the wilder trends and cuter styles on a budget. Sometimes it's tricky to tell whether a beaded bag cost you £500 or £25, for example. 

21. COS

22. Mango

23. Charles & Keith

24. H&M

25. Baggu

26. Arket

27. Zara

28. Massimo Dutti

29. Topshop

This story was published at an earlier time and has since been updated.

Hannah Almassi
Editor in Chief

Hannah Almassi is the Editor in Chief of Who What Wear UK. Hannah has been part of the the Who What Wear brand since 2015, when she was headhunted to launch the UK sister site and social channels, implement a localised content strategy and build out the editorial team. She joined following a seven-year tenure at Grazia magazine, where she led front-of-book news, fashion features and shopping specials as fashion news and features editor. With experience in both print and digital across fashion and beauty, Hannah has over 16 years in the field as a journalist, editor, content strategist and brand consultant. Hannah has interviewed industry heavyweights such as designers including Marc Jacobs and Jonathan Anderson through to arbiters of taste including Katie Grand and Anna Dello Russo. A skilled moderator and lecturer specialising in the shift to digital media and e-commerce, Hannah’s opinion and work has been sought by the likes of CNBC, BBC, The Sunday Times Style, The Times, The Telegraph and MatchesFashion.com, among many others. Hannah is often called upon for her take on trends, becoming known as a person with their finger of the pulse of what’s happening in the fashion space for stylish Brits.

Hannah currently resides in Eastbourne with her photographer husband, incredibly busy son and highly Instagrammable cat.