(can you guess the designers of each bag? scroll down to see if you’re right)
I forget where I read it recently, but lately, it’s been all about the “anti-it” bag, the anonymous handbag. You know it when you see it: that bag you see on the most stylish woman that looks simultaneously like something she could have picked up from a leather craftsman in Italy or she got it from Barney’s and it costs more than your rent. It doesn’t matter though, you have to find out which it is, so you chase her until you find out. And about 50% of the time, it’s a no-name bag, and no where to be found.
But those are the best bags. The bag that only YOU know the provenance of…it’s special to you, and meaningful to you only, it wouldn’t mean much to anyone else. Maybe it was expensive, maybe it wasn’t, but it of the highest quality. The brand is not easily identifiable, and even the most bag-obsessed would be hard-pressed to recognize it. These bags don’t have any bling, no logos, they’re usually a little slouchy and have a great worn-in look. They will last forever, and are the type of bag you want to carry every day, like my beloved tote by my friend at Admonish.
Only a few brands perfect that look in my opinion, first, is The Row. I mean, those Olson twins sure know how to spend their money. The Elizabeth & James line sort of accomplishes this, but I find that the pieces include a few too many frivolous zippers and shiny bits. It’s also why I love Comme des Garcons so much; the wallets are superb, but anonymous. Hope does great weathered totes, Maison Martin Margiela (and MM6) is known for his avant garde, but still relatively anonymous bags (especially the iconic shopper tote). Valextra, Marni, Isaac Reina, Anya Hindmarch, and il Bisonte are a few other brands that do anonymous well.
Here are the bags pictured above. Did you guess any correctly??
1 il Bisonte Bobo bag in black | $348 at Mill
2 Kallia leather sling bag | $215 via Etsy
3 Everlane Petra Portfolio tote | $425 at Everlane
4 AANDD leather bag | $322 at Totokaelo
5 Admonish distressed charcoal tote | $400
6 MM6 Leather shopper | $695 at Shopbop
7 The Row sling bag | $2,600 at Barney’s
Even more anonymous bags. Which is your favorite? Do you carry an anonymous bag?
I’ve got a baggu leather shopper that I always, always get compliments on. I also have a leather tote by etsy seller Leah Lerner that I also love for its simplicity (and because I supported the artisan directly) — check her out because her designs are all lovely and simple and quite customizable. Also in the handmade realm, Moop’s waxed canvas bags are beautiful, functional and free from doo-dads. I like to support the small guys whenever I can!
Grechen Reiter says
i love the baggu leather shoppers, but i worry because they’re not lined…do you find that to be a problem?? is it easy to carry on your shoulder? or do you tend to carry it?
will definitely check out leah lerner – and i LOVE LOVE LOVE moop – i have forever, but have never bought anything. still. i really should though…
thanks for your comment!
Both the Baggu and the Leah Lerner bags are unlined. Sometimes it’s annoying (like there are itty-bitty bits of leather all over things that I pull out from the bag BUT that has subsided with regular use. I’ve been using both intermittently for about a year and I don’t feel like that’s an issue any longer.
Also, for the Baggu, I have the large size which fits over my shoulder comfortably as long as I don’t have something big inside–regular stuff like a wallet, keys, pouch, and even a novel are all fine. I’ve also been eying the Baggu totes, but Leah Lerner also makes totes that are similar. Cuyana, too. I need another bag like I need a hole in my head, though.
I love my Moop bags! You should go for it–espeically when they’re having a seconds sale. I have a “second” and can’t for the life of me figure out what’s “wrong” with it.
thank you for including my bag in your “anonymous handbag” post 🙂
Lovely post !
All the best
Grechen Reiter says
you’re welcome! you make wonderful bags!!!
Jessica @ Beautify My Life says
My current bag is not anonymous, but I absolutely avoid any major branding (though I can’t lie, I am sometimes tempted by the LV Damier Ebene print). That said, I’ve been eyeing the Everlane Petra bags since before they were launched, and would love to carry one of them.
Jessica @ Beautify My Life´s last blog post ..Cute maternity clothes for summer
I have a black leather tote from Cuyana that I love!. I had my initials monogrammed and also bought their 2 piece travel case set in fuchsia and monogrammed. Love!
Grechen Reiter says
well, i don’t always carry an anonymous bag either…but i think only the alexander wang is “recognizable” in general. the 3.1 phillip lim bag is not as widely known either – especially not as much as the pashli! i still love balenciaga and a few other more identifiable bags, but not for the brand. even so, i think i like so much simpler more now…even the studs on my alexander wang seem a little over the top sometimes!!
i do love the everlane totes, but they seem SOOOO structured to me. don’t know if i could pull that off.
Grechen Reiter says
those travel sets look amazing, and i think their totes are very nice, but i’m happy with my custom one by admonish – it’s so substantial and i know it will hold up to EVERYTHING. and then some. and that’s because i’ve put it through EVERYTHING.
Those are reasons I LOVE etsy, too, Liz! I’ll check her out. Thx!
Grechen, you turned me on to the Admonish brand, and now I want one to add to my tote collection! (Another post idea: Do you gravitate to the same type of handbag every time, or have a different type for every occasion?).
I think that my black Clare Vivier messenger is quite anonymous, although when I stopped at Aesop to pick up some hand cream, the SA got all excited and pulled her identical bag from the drawer! I’ve had a lot of compliments on it, and people ask me who it’s by. The unlined part drives me nuts, tho, but I think she’s changed that. And obviously, her signature “stripe down the middle” bags have been copied by everyone!
I want to try Cuyana, and I love the look of Madewell and J Crew’s simple shopper totes. Plus, Everlane’s, too. Andrea Linnet has me wanting to get an Il Bisonte. (I want, I want, I want!)
What can I say, I’m just a simple girl with simple taste….I only want the best! 🙂
I LOVE THIS! What a great way to put it. I don’t like “obvious” it bags. But I do like it bags. No branding of course, but I like them to be kind of off the beaten path. Love the anonymous thing though. Been thinking about getting the Cuyana Tote http://www.cuyana.com/the-perfect/totes.html in black.