Ever since Luar debuted its signature Ana bag last year, it’s hard to miss it. Known for its structured circular straps and square box, the bag counts Dua Lipa, Troye Sivan and Julia Fox as fans, and earned designer Raúl López — a Dominican-American creative from New York’s Williamsburg neighborhood, who co-founded the cult favorite Hood By Air in 2005 — the trophy for American Accessories Designer of the Year at the 2022 CFDA Awards. Amid a saturated landscape, the handbag has managed to evolve past its cult following to the mass market in 2022, securing a spot as one of the biggest items of the year.
It all started back in 2021, when Luar debuted the Ana bag during the brand’s spring 2022 show – titled “Teteo” after the Dominican slang word that means “hangout” – his first after a three-season break. Weeks later, Dua Lipa was first spotted wearing the Ana, pairing it with a micro mini skirt and lacy top on the streets of New York City, exuding the on-the-go nature of the bag. “I wanted to make a bag that could carry literally everything, but also be taken from day to night,” López told W Magazine in 2021 about the bag, which is named after key women in his life. Soon after, the headlines followed: Highsnobiety wondered if it’d be the new Telfar, while Paper called it the “new it-accessory.” Since then, the brand has dropped larger iterations of the Ana bag, debuting new colorways and prints and showcasing them on viral campaigns, including the brand’s immersive digital takeover of the famous Prada store installation in Marfa, Texas, as well as collaborations and exclusive drops with the likes of Opening Ceremony, Highsnobiety and Bergdorf Goodman. Most recently, Luar dropped an exclusive tiger print version of the Ana bag on Gucci Vault, the Italian house’s digital marketplace.
It’s hard to not be impressed by the feats accomplished by López. In the span of three seasons, Luar has catapulted itself to the top, and while the brand’s clothing — think bold leather coats, oversized pinstripe suits, and asymmetrical skirts — have also aided its rise, the Ana bag remains the protagonist in this Cinderella story. “There’s not another bag on the market like his Ana bag,” wrote designer Telfar Clemens in a blurb about López for Time’s 100 Next list for 2022, which featured a photo of the designer holding a multitude of mini Ana bags.
Amid a year of increased interest in affordable luxury — largely due to a rise in cost of living and often extortionate designer prices (see: Chanel’s price hikes) — Luar’s Ana bag entered a disruptive landscape that has seen BIPOC designers dominate the under $500 market for a while now. Beyond Telfar’s tote bags, designers like Brandon Blackwood — a nominee in this year’s American Accessories Designer of the Year — and Antoine Manning with his Atlanta-based brand Homage Year have skyrocketed in popularity and sales, thanks to their affordable handbags. And Luar’s approach toward relatable luxury is right in line with this phenomenon: “The Ana is for everyone. It’s not just a specific person or a specific demographic. I tell people, ‘Luar is for the culture. It’s for everyone,’” López told W Magazine in 2021.
It seems everyone is finally catching on, and they’re just getting started.