A new wave of It-bags are flooding the front rows at Fashion Week, gracing the arms of modern trendsetters all over the world. Characterised by sleek lines and architectural shapes, these bags are the antithesis of those by legacy brands such as Chanel or Louis Vuitton, perfect for the Instagram age.

These emerging brands are breaking into the handbag category, paving the way for other new labels to enter the market. Whether from the London-based Danse Lente or Turkish MANU Atelier, these bags are functional, stylish, and designed for the modern woman.

The shift was first ignited by the success of Mansur Gavriel in 2012, resulting in a boom in niche bag brands as a result of several changes in consumer behaviour; such as exclusivity, luxury quality at a better price point, and a strong social media presence.

Here, the cult bags to get acquainted with, and to add to your handbag rotation.

1
Gaia's Ark Bag, Cult Gaia

Cult Gaia, a brand founded by designer Jasmin Larian Hekmat, disrupted fashion by paving the way for a new handbag silhouette — the now-iconic crescent moon — as well as a flood of bamboo and straw bags that followed.

The popular Gaia’s Ark bag has been taking over Instagram and fashion editorials over the past two years. The architectural bag, made of 100 per cent bamboo, became a fashion blogger phenomenon in 2016 and has since been seen on celebrities such as Jessica Alba, Michelle Williams and Chrissy Teigen.

www.cultgaia.com

2
Hortensia, Wandler

Another label that has gained undeniable cult status is Wandler. Founded in Amsterdam in 2017 by designer Elza Wandler, the namesake brand has already gained a cult following amongst fashion influencers and celebrities alike.

Wandler’s iconic design, the Hortensia, has a distinctive aesthetic (in a half moon shaped style) favoured by the busy professional and comes in a range of colours and sizes. It retains its cult credentials due to its balance of considered style and practicality — suitable for both the boardroom and your favourite Sunday brunch spot.

www.shop.wandler.com

3
Fernweh, Manu Atelier

Half-way between a shopper and a backpack, the Fernweh by Turkish accessories label Manu Atelier has become one of the world’s most coveted It-bag. The bag, crafted out of elegant suede, has a soft, boho feel — and can be dressed up or down.

Owned by sisters Merve and Beste Manastir, the label marries time-honoured techniques and the highest quality materials with a modern, pared-back sensibility.

www.manuatelier.com

4
Bonsai 20 Bucket Bag, Simon Miller
While it is popular today for its sophisticated, organic-luxe aesthetic, Los Angeles-based Simon Miller started as a men’s denim brand. Today, it’s bags are highly raved by the in-crowd. Its Bonsai 20 Nubuck Bucket Bag is recognisable by its cylindrical silhouette and sleek acetate handles. Rendered in nubuck leather or suede, the bag has made its way into the wardrobes of fashion influencers and prolific style editors worldwide.

 

www.simonmillerusa.com

5
Johnny Leather Tote, Danse Lente

London accessories label Danse Lente, which means “slow dance” in French, is another name you should watch out for. In less than two years since its launch, the brand has already created a cult-like following. In fact, on their first day on Moda Operandi, the handmade leather bags sold more units than any other women’s accessories brand.

 

Danse Lente’s collection is all about sleek, clean lines. The Johnny Leather Tote is a firm favourite amongst the fashion week crowd and is recognisable by its unique hexagon shape.

 

www.danselente.com

Dewi Nurjuwita
Senior Writer
Dewi Nurjuwita is a travel and design writer who can be found exploring the streets of foreign cities with passport in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.