These UK-based accessory designers are creating luxe handbags that will last a lifetime. As full of character as they are rich in British design history, these investment styles are ones that you’ll treasure for years to come.
While we were in various lockdowns over the last year, our bags were barely used, save for being stuffed with hand sanitiser and taken to the local supermarket. But now that we’re going out again, it seems like a great time to update our accessories.
Let’s be honest: the quest for a bag that will last is an ongoing saga littered with threadbare totes, flaking pleather and broken handles. But no longer shall we indulge in fleeting pretty things that are here one moment and gone the next. Instead, we’re investing in bags that can lug our belongings on a staycation and weather the storm of a night out.
Because in the long run, buying an expertly crafted bag from an independent British designer is good for your purse and your conscience. You’re buying something that will be with you for years, reducing the amount of material that ends up in landfill. You’re supporting small, homegrown brands and you’ll end up with something lovely by your side every day. Seems like a win-win-win to us.
Below, we’ve tracked down ten independent British handbag designers making beautiful cross-body bags, jutes and more to help refresh your summer wardrobe.
Mila & Eve
This chic crossbody bag is made from soft, pebble grain leather and is the perfect size to fit everything you need. Better yet, it’s available in three colours and you can add your initials for a personal touch.
Shop Sophia tassel bag from The Drop by Stylist, £45
The Mad Hatter of Durham
This roomy canvas tote is the perfect vessel for all your Covid-related essentials, but also a picnic blanket, a chilled bottle of rose and a good book. You can have up to 30 characters printed on one side, in a choice of classic or scripted fonts and four colours – gold, rose gold, black or white. Names, initials, slogans… the options are truly endless.
Shop Personalised Jute Shopping Bag from The Drop by Stylist, £28.99
Flower Love Child
What better way to mark Gemini season right now than gifting yourself a zodiac tote?Made from natural heavyweight canvas, these bags are large enough for every summer essential – thanks to the rectangular base, you can comfortably fit a shoebox inside with room to spare, while the modern typographical designs differ slightly for each star sign.
Shop Zodiac tote from The Drop by Stylist, £15.99
Who said that a wear-forever handbag has to be black? Marlow’s colourful tote bags will leave you glowing on grey mornings, and immediately elevate even your most understated of outfits. A timeless structured silhouette feels effortlessly chic, and, thanks to a statement-making laser-cut front panel, this bag is one that is guaranteed to stand out from the crowd.
Handmade to order, every handbag has a character that feels completely unique to you. Unlike it’s fast fashion counterparts which often need to be replaced, Marlow’s designs are made to last a lifetime. In fact, as the years pass the vegetable-tanned leather will age beautifully, leaving you with an individual piece that will love as much in ten years time as you do now.
Shop Marlow London medium tote, £499
Paradise Row has East London’s fashion heritage in it’s DNA. Not only is every design made in East London, but their Core collection of classic cross body bags celebrate the iconic institutions that have given the East End its unique character. A miniature Buddha charm pays tribute to the London Buddhist Centre, while a tiny pearl reflects the embellished costumes of East London’s Pearly Kings and Queens.
Shop Paradise Row the Buddha bag, £325
Drawing inspiration from the Greek Islands, London-based label Mashu’s designs are the perfect holiday pieces. Their Sophia bag feels every bit as joyful as a carefree summer day, with a gathered satin handle that lends a playful touch to an otherwise timeless tan tote. While we love this summer-ready take on the classic tote, it’s Mashu’s sustainable credentials that have really caught our attention. Though it may look like real leather, this bag is entirely constructed from pinatex, a vegan alternative to animal skin that is entirely made from pineapples. It’s suede-like interior is vegan too, but and it is made from recycled plastic bottles.
Shop Mashu Sophia bag, £240
Lost Property Office
Everything from leather connoisseur Lost Property Office is designed in the capital, with makers striving to source materials responsibly and to eliminate waste in the production process. The brand has kindly made your dream saddle bag – complete with detachable strap. Sling it on and prance forth with all the confidence of a prize mare!
Shop Lost Property of London mini Arlington, £305
Hopeful by name, hopeful by nature, all of this brand’s bags are ethically produced and made by artisans based in the UK. Oh, and did we mention that the label is a micro-manufacturer? Which means that all items are commissioned in little batches and put together in small facilities, reducing the production carbon footprint while ensuring that all workers are paid fairly.
And this particular bag embodies style and practicality. The perfect size for all your daily essentials, it can be worn across your body or slung over your shoulder. And as it’s a perfect netural, it’ll go with every outfit.
Shop Hopeful Dove Liberty, £140
The brainchild behind Weald Handmade is Sarah Barlow. A self-taught pattern cutter, her thoughtful label champions no-waste products that last a lifetime. Working out of her attic in Leigh-on-Sea, Barlow applies a slow fashion philosophy to everything she designs and never uses factories or sewing machines, meaning that each product is unique. The perfectly weathered beauty Hattie cross body is made from 100% tanned leather.
Shop Weald cross body bag in chestnut at Young British Designers, £175
Founded by a family of creatives, Alfie Douglas designs sleek, minimalistic accessories using natural, biodegradable leather. Everything is handmade on traditional workbenches by English craftspeople using skills that have been passed down through generations. This handy midi bag comes in a range of summery hues.
Shop Alfie Douglas midi case, £55
Images: courtesy of brands.
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