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11 Brands Redefining The It Bag

'It bag' as a term may have been coined during the '90s to reflect the boom of buzzy handbags in the luxury market but It bags themselves have been worn on the arms of enviable women for decades. From Chanel's quilted and chained 2.55 to Hermès' Kelly and Birkin via Mulberry's Alexa and Bayswater, a host of now-iconic bags have been named after or inextricably linked with the coolest dressers in fashion history.

A wave of nostalgia fuelled by throwback Instagram accounts and a thriving resale market has made the OG It bags more desirable than ever. These days, Fendi's Baguette and Dior's Saddle are as associated with Bella, Hailey and Kendall as they are with the SJP-immortalised Carrie Bradshaw.

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Now, though, luxury is no longer defined by the old gatekeepers – a slew of brands are ripping up the rulebook and making It bags with a whole new meaning. Traditionally reserved for the 1% thanks to a price tag that rivals rent costs, the most in-demand bags are no longer trading on exclusivity. Instead, Instagram has allowed emerging designers and new visionaries to create cult pieces that are as accessible as they are coveted.

From sustainable labels reusing old and upcycled materials to designs that double up as artwork, click through to meet the brands making the It bags of today.

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Isla Risa


The story: Having worked everywhere from Cult Gaia to AllSaints, designer Emma Garner founded her joyful label Isla Risa during the pandemic to combat the lack of creativity and beauty we were able to access in lockdown. Coming in every colour from cherry red and zingy fuchsia to sleek olive and burgundy, her satin sculptures are as tactile and playful as they are Insta-worthy.

The price tag: From £30.
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Cafuné


The story: Founded by Queenie Fan and Day Lau in 2015, Cafuné combines traditional luxury with surprising design detail. From pastel pink wristlets perfect for hitting the dance floor to bead-handled snakeskin totes and Battenberg-inspired patchwork purses, the label's offering feels equally sleek and spirited.

The price tag: From £180.
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Pretty Gyal Bags


The story: Arielle conceived Pretty Gyal Bags in December 2019 but the brand didn't launch until the summer of 2020. For a label that started out in the middle of a global pandemic, it's soaring, and with good reason. Each cloudlike piece of the zero-waste, made-to-order business is handmade by the designer in Brighton, where she draws upon her youth spent in London and '90s and '00s silhouettes.

The price tag: From £35.
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Manu Atelier


The story: Sisters Beste and Merve, daughters of one of the most respected craftsmen and leather goods manufacturers in their native Istanbul, founded their label in 2014 with the aim of paying homage to tradition while injecting a heavy dose of contemporary cool into the accessories market. With a sumptuous colour palette and unexpected silhouettes, fans range from Sarah Jessica Parker to Eva Chen.

The price tag: From £140.
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Hai


The story: Founded in 2018 by Tessa Vermeulen, who grew up between China and the Netherlands and spent her late teens through early 20s in Shanghai, Hai champions Chinese silk through its delightful (and very collectible) handbags. Now based in London, Vermeulen draws on memories of heavily embroidered silk bags, combining tradition with modern shapes perfect for evenings spent under a disco ball or at drawn-out dinner parties. 

The price tag: From £75.
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EDAS


The story: Brooklyn-based Sade Mims has built a cult following with her label EDAS over the past five years. Having collaborated with LA-based designer Cameron Tea on the beaded bucket hats that went viral this year and now stocked at major retailers like Urban Outfitters, it's fair to say her hard work has paid off. While an expansion to ready-to-wear might be on the horizon, we're still coveting her big-buckled bags in a slew of serotonin-boosting colours.

The price tag: From £200.
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HANGA


The story: Self-taught designer Victoria Bolt began her label HANGA by creating woven plant hangers out of rope from her local hardware store. Fast-forward to 2020 and her pastel-hued handbags, made using rope from a family-run business in Devon, are Instagram's most sought-after accessories.

The price tag: From £38.
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Shrimps


The story: Shrimps' Hannah Weiland may have made her name with fuzzy faux fur coats but her bags have stolen the show. Spawning a thousand copycats, her beaded beauties are every cool girl's wedding bag of choice, while her ladylike top-handled silk pieces have won over fans from Helena Bonham Carter to Alexa Chung.

The price tag: From £280.
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Lulu Guinness


The story: Sure, the brand was established in 1989 and has created more than one iconic It bag but with new creative director David Hodgson at the helm, the label's kitsch and collectible offering has gone from strength to strength. Just ask its bevy of influencer and celebrity fans, who have caused its iridescent shells and interiors-worthy bingo bags to sell out more than once.

The price tag: From £55.
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Asata Maisé


The story: Delaware-based 'modern day couturier' Asata hand-makes every limited edition item for her eponymous label using sustainably sourced reclaimed materials, reflective of her truly circular ethos. Chosen as one of 10 recipients of Halsey's Black Creators Fund Initiative, Asata and her team of two are combating the industry's wasteful attitude while making one-of-a-kind pieces. From her patchwork totes to the smiley-face shoulder bags, we want the lot.

The price tag: From £180.
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USISI SISTER


The story: When London-based sisters Kathryn and Millie, a decade apart in age, found themselves drawn to the same pieces, they decided to combine their experience and found USISI SISTER in 2019. The modern ready-to-wear label features slick tailoring and sleek eveningwear but the brand's handbags are the real jewel in the crown. Architectural shapes and rich leathers ensure that styles like the Rollo and Consti instantly sell out.

The price tag: From £330.
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