Unlike some fashion faux pas we’d love to forget, the best designer bags are something you’ll never regret investing in. Making it easy to admire the most iconic accessories in one place, we’ve rounded up the cream of the arm candy crop – all for your browsing pleasure.
Much like your best winter coat, luxury handbags are always going to be a considered purchase rather than an impulse one – so it pays to invest wisely. Unlike a £30 handbag from a high-street store, the best designer bags deliver on the look, fabric, and craftsmanship, making those months of saving (or dropping birthday hints) entirely worthwhile.
So, whether you’ve got your eye on a buttery-soft Hermes Kelly, a sumptuous Dior Saddle Bag, or a cross-body Chloe Tess, prepare to meet your new capsule wardrobe hero. Here’s everything you need to know about the best designer bags to invest in.
The best designer bags to buy now
If you’re looking for the trendiest luxury handbags, then this isn’t the list for you. This edit of the best designer handbags is for people who want a beautiful, classic, solid fashion investment they won’t grow out of, or won’t tire of. Any of these best designer bags you’ll trot out year after year, which is just as well because that will help make the eye-watering cost become more palatable when you calculate it over decades.
Best designer bags under £500/$500
JW Anderson’s nautical-inspired logo alone is enough to make us swoon, and his new season belt totes have us weak at the knees. They get their name from the distinctive belt leather strap, complete with buckle. Expect fabrics like felt and raffia alongside more substantial leather offerings, making for a take-everywhere tote you’ll likely never put down. Especially as the brand’s elevated design complements everything from the best leather jackets to the best dresses. (Want to know how to style dresses? we got you covered.) As is the case with most of the best designer bags, the price varies depending on the size and material you choose, spanning from £315 to around £535.
The younger sister of luxury French fashion house Chloé, See By Chloé has the same cool, feminine aesthetic, just at slightly more purse-friendly prices. The label’s target audience is slightly younger too, but don’t let that put you off investing in one of their designer bags. Putting an unexpected twist on the baguette shape, the Lesly has a real boho feel. The front pocket and contrast clasp nods to the Chloé Tess, while the grainy leather gives this otherwise polished bag a hint of grit. The guitar-style strap is a feature in itself, and can be easily adjusted depending on how you like to wear yours.
If you’re on the lookout for the best designer bags that won’t leave your bank account in tatters, allow us to point you in the direction of Coach. Their Tabby Top Handle is a revamped take on an archive design from the 70s and has true timeless appeal. The polished pebble leather is both gorgeous and durable (two very important factors) and available in four shades. Cream and black are the obvious choices for maximum cost-per-wear, while green and pink will add a pop of color to any outfit. They pair well with the best mom jean outfits—even the best Doc Martens outfits if you’re feeling adventurous.
Feeling guilty about splurging on one of the best designer bags? We’ve got just the thing. Part of the brand’s iconic I Am A Plastic Bag collection, this mini tote has been made from plastic bottles that would otherwise have ended up in a landfill. The result is a bag for life in the best possible way, with a could-be-canvas texture and weather-resistant finish that helps it to stand the test of time. Carry this buttercup yellow beauty in the crook of your arm or cross-body using the longer, detachable strap.
Despite only launching onto the fashion scene in 2016, By Far has quickly become one of the industry’s most coveted labels for the best designer bags. The prices are high compared to your run-of-the-mill stores but not so steep that you’d need to eat beans on toast for a year to consider investing. The Kiki manages to feel both barely there and stand-out all at once, thanks to the sculptured shape and high-shine patent leather. It’s also available in black and lime green if you’re not a fan of the brown. Nestling neatly beneath your shoulder and fastening with a zip, it’s practical too.
Aspinal of London is already a favorite of the Royal Family, with Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Cornwall and even the Queen famously fans of the London-based brand—so of course it’s one of our go-tos for the best designer bags around too. While they have so many stylish designer bags to choose from, we love this dainty pink offering that oozes feminine sophistication with its rosy hue but adds a hint of edginess with the croc leather. The inner compartments are also really handy for getting your bits and pieces organized.
Best designer bags under £1000/$1000
Minimalist but never minimal, Jil Sandler’s speciality is luxurious pieces that will look just as good now as they will in 10 years time. The brand’s namesake founder may have stepped back in 2013, but creative directors (and husband and wife) Lucie and Luke Meier carry on it’s original aesthetic today. The Tangle bag is the label down to a T. Smooth and sophisticated the braided strap is almost the only detail of note. That is of course, until a closer look reveals glossy Italian leather outer, an embossed silver logo and handy magnetic clasp. Wear long on one shoulder or crossbody, the choice is yours.
An ‘It’ bag if ever there was one, Phillip Lim’s Pashli has been proudly carried by the likes of Emma Roberts and Reese Witherspoon making it one of our best designer bags. It’s spawned plenty of copies too, but there’s nothing quite like the real deal. It might be the instantly recognisable side zip detail that draws you in, but it’s the super soft leather, quality finishes, and choice of two handles that will keep you reaching for it time and time again.
Named after Yves Saint Laurent’s muse Loulou de la Falaise, this instantly recognisable bag is a designer staple that’s loved by everyone. Another versatile accessory with its easy cross-body strap and front flap, it’s guaranteed to transform any outfit. It has the famous YSL signature embellished on the front, and it’s made from 100% calfskin leather. We would lean towards the black again for a long-term investment, but the dark beige hue is equally as chic if you can handle the upkeep.
Gucci handbags have been gaining momentum the past couple of years with an increase in sales and searches, and the classic GG Marmont is one of the most sought-after. Small but mighty, this compact crossbody camera bag is incredibly versatile with its quilted finish, chain, and leather strap, and the distinctive gold-tone logo plaque for that recognisable designer look. It comes in 11 variations, including pillar box red and a floral print, but we think simple black is the way to go if you’re looking for longevity.
The ultimate carry-all bag for the fashion-conscious, the Mulberry Bayswater is one of Britain’s finest fashion icons. And it’s been worn by plenty of Blighty’s fashion icons too – from Kate Moss to Alexa Chung. The original 2003 design underwent a revamp in 2016 when then-Creative Director Johnny Coca took the helm, making it both more durable and more modern. Today, the Bayswater is almost identical to the 2003 version, with a zip option (handy for commuters), a simple tote, and a backpack joining the collection. Prices start at £695 for a tote, with a slouchy Bayswater costing £1,625. The price of the original Bayswater has crept up over the years, now nearer to the £1,000 mark than £900.
Best designer bags under £1500/$1500
Originally created for travellers in the 1930s, Louis Vuitton Speedy remains a sought-after purchase for busy folk today. Elegant yet sporty, the almost bowling bag shape means it’s roomy enough for all your essentials, while the signature rolled leather handles ensure maximum comfort. The little details count, too, like the luxe engraved padlock. If you travel heavy, opt for a bigger size, and consider a shoulder strap too to free up your hands. Selected styles can be personalised with coloured stripes and your initials via Louis Vuitton’s online store or in their boutiques, but bear in mind these can take longer to ship. Prices range from £830 for the Speedy 30 Bag to £2,310 for the 40.
Taking the humble saddlebag and transforming it into a cult buy is no mean feat, but thanks to a deliciously soft leathers and plenty of metal hardware, Chloé has made it look easy. As practical as it is beautiful, nestle your Tess in the crook of your arm or wear across your body thanks to the wide shoulder strap – the choice is yours. An extension of the range, Chloé’s Day Tess bag is slightly more classic, with a boxier shape. The key details remain the same, though, so you can still expect to spy their instantly recognisable ‘O’. Bag yours via Net-a-Porter, Farfetch, and Selfridges, or buy direct from Chloé. Prices within the Tess family range from £1,160 through to £1,660, depending on the bag size.
Burberry might not be a label you immediately associate with handbags (more Burberry trench coats and scarves) but that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. The Title bag started life on the runway, making the triple stud detailing it’s signature. For a design that originated on the catwalk, it’s incredibly wearable, with a practical choice of two handles and a timeless, square silhouette. As for colours, there’s no bold brights here, instead a muted palette of black, biscuit, red and cream to reflect Burberry’s heritage shades. Choose one with all-over – or just a flash of – vintage check in homage to the world’s most instantly recognisable print.
Relatively young by iconic bag standards, Loewe’s gorgeously geometric Puzzle Bag was dreamt up by Creative Director Jonathan Anderson in 2014. Proving early on that his appointment was a very good move indeed, the Puzzle was actually the very first thing he designed. Not only can it be worn in an impressive five different ways, from shoulder bag to clutch, but it also folds completely flat for easy storage. Nearly all Puzzles are made from buttery-soft calfskin, but the grain can vary from style to style. Easy to get your hands on, buy direct from Loewe or through Harrods, Selfridges, or Net-a-Porter. At the cheaper end of the designer bag spectrum, prices start at £1,300 for a mini and climb to £2,300.
The Balenciaga Classic City bag was a must-have in the early noughties, worn by everyone from Paris Hilton to the Olsen twins, and it’s still a coveted style today thanks to its versatility and timeless design. It comes in many variations, from hot pink to graffiti print for a real statement-maker. Featuring two top handles, buckle-embellished trims, and silver-tone hardware with the logo, this classic black style has a glossy finish for a smart take that will last.
Even if you’re not au fait with the Marni Trunk, we’ll guarantee it looks familiar. The bobble-ended twist lock has been imitated again and again on the high-street (as most of the best designer bags are!), but never to the same high quality. Thanks to accordion construction, this compact bag has a touch of Mary Poppins about it, hiding six spacious compartments inside – two of which have zips. Use the engraved press studs to adjust and secure the strap, depending on whether you prefer to carry yours slung over your shoulder or across your body. Keep it simple with a block colour neutrals or step into statement territory with a limited edition print.
Best designer bags under £2000/$2000
Intricately woven from either high-quality leather or suede, Bottega Veneta’s cult Cassette Bag comes in a range of incarnations. Keep it simple with the slim and structured original, beautifully finished with a magnetic clasp closure and narrow shoulder strap. If you prefer a more statement look, try the pillowy, puffy Padded Cassette or the lavish Chain option. The colour range is vast, too, with a rainbow array of shades – from candy brights to muted neutrals. Easy to source, buy online from Browns, Net-a-Porter or Matches Fashion. Prices start at around £1,300 and can rise to £2,800 or more depending on the style.
This sleek, minimalist style has been popping up on our Instagram feeds recently, with many influencers championing its classic yet cool aesthetic. It may be verging on a 2021 ‘it’ bag, but thanks to its timeless appeal, we think this one will remain on top for years to come. A sophisticated take on the hobo bag, this reinvented 1990s style is crafted from 100% brushed leather and has an elegantly curved silhouette with the iconic enamel triangle logo decorated on the front. Available in black, white, silver, and aqua green – we’re slightly swooning over the green.
Another iconic 90s and 00s bag that’s enjoyed a recent renaissance, the Fendi Baguette Bag is back and bigger than ever. Now, instead of referring to one specific style, ‘Baguette’ encompasses a whole family of luxury bags, with the iconic shape having been reimagined in a range of different sizes, strap options, and colourways. The rectangular original remains instantly recognisable, the perfect shape to sit prettily and comfortably beneath your arm. Never one to scrimp on branding, all bags in the Baguette family carry Fendi’s gold logo hardware. Prices start at £430 for the Nano Baguette Charm, but remember, it’s only big enough to hold a single lipstick. The average Baguette bag is around the £2,000 mark, with a crocodile skin version ringing in at £19,000.
The Givency Antigona is the kind of piece you’ll never grow tired of. It has all the hallmarks of one of the best designer bags – elevated fabrics, a timeless shape and the option to be worn in the crook of your arm or slung over your shoulder. There’s a wide range of different sizes, fabrics and variations available, depending on your tastes and budgets. For us, it’s the soft tote that gets our vote. It has all of the clean lines of the original, just with a little more slouch. It’s a great choice if you don’t like bags that feel too ‘done’.
Worn by Carrie Bradshaw and coveted by all of us, the Dior Saddle Bag was the ‘It’ bag of the 90s and 00s. Despite its popularity, the brand eventually ceased production of the shape – causing resale demand to rise. Fast-forward to 2018 when Creative Director Maria Grazia Chiuri sent a re-imagined version of this classic down the runway, and the Saddle Bag 2.0 was born. The beautifully curved shape might have remained the same, but this time it’s not just about canvas and embroidery, but shiny goat leather too – all complete with the stirrup ‘D’ closure. For a brand-new Dior Saddle bag, expect to pay £1,950 for mini version, and up to £3,000 for full-size.
Don’t just buy your coats from MaxMara (a camel cashmere number is at the top of our wishlists!) but your best designer bags too. The Whitney was originally designed as part of a partnership between the fashion house and architect firm the Renzo Piano Building Workshop. Look closely at the strong lines and structured shape, and that influence is plain to see. First showcased at the opening of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art in 2015, the Whitney has been one of the brand’s staples ever since – as well as a permanent fixture at the New York Fashion Institute of Technology museum. A city tote with edge, use yours to add interest to everything from jeans to joggers.
Best designer bags over £2000
As far as eye-wateringly expensive best designer bags go, this one is certainly beautiful enough to induce at least a tiny tear before you’ve even seen the price tag. A sophisticated take on a vintage doctor’s bag, it’s more than big enough to hold all your daily essentials, with space left over for non-essentials too. Opt for the medium size for two bags in one, with a removable pouch to keep your valuables close at hand. The outer is a smooth, ever-so-slightly pebbled Italian calf leather, and the inner fully lined.
A Celine bag is certainly one to consider if you’re in the market for a designer handbag that lasts. Their styles are classic yet contemporary with a pared-back aesthetic that will never go out of style. Whilst many may opt for its ‘Classic’ design, we think the newer Triomphe is one to bag. The crossbody style makes it easy-to-wear, and the larger decorative metal fastening makes it a standout. Crafted from calfskin with a lambskin lining, it’s practical, with three inner compartments and an inner zipped pocket. Incredibly chic, you can snap it up in 10 different colours – we love the vintage pink.
Child stars Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen have long been famed for their impeccable style, so it made perfect sense for them to launch their own fashion label back in 2006. The Row’s speciality is high quality fabrics and serious attention to detail, which is reflected in the price. This bowling bag is a model example of the brand’s simplistic style, with sleek lines and minimal detailing. The larger shape makes it a great choice for everyday use.
The bag that spurned a thousand copies, Chanel’s iconic 2.55 Flap Bag, is easily one of the best designer bags ever made. Created by Gabrielle Chanel in February 1955, it’s easy to spot thanks to its simple yet effective rectangle shape and signature quilting. This is a bag with the potential to make even your pyjamas feel instantly glamorous. Black leather is the classic choice, while seasonal tweed or color-pop options offer a more fashion-forward take. You can browse online via Chanel’s website, but for the widest choice of sizes, colours, and fabrications, it’s best to visit one of their boutiques. Prices start at around £3,000 for a mini version and rise to more than £6,000 for a maxi.
It’s almost impossible to put together a round-up of the best designer bags without including Hermés. The Birkin might be the A-list-approved bag that first springs to mind, but for real glamour, Kelly has our vote. First created by Robert Dumas, the son-in-law of Emile Hermés, the grandson of founder Thierry Hermés, it gained real notoriety when worn by Hollywood legend Grace Kelly. Rumour has it that the actress, and Princess of Monaco, used the bag to conceal her pregnancy in the late 1950s, and as a result, it was renamed in her honour.
Effortlessly elegant, the real beauty of Kelly is in its simplicity. It won’t date with trends, so you can rest assured this is a bag you’ll love to use for years to come. Unfortunately, getting your hands on a Hermés bag is not as easy as heading to the store. Not everyone who wants one is approved to buy one, and even if you do make it onto the coveted shortlist, you can still face a long wait. As a result, the resale market is booming, so buying second-hand might just be your best bet. Exact prices are hard to come by, but depending on the leather you choose, a Kelly bag bought directly from Hermés will set you back upwards of £6,000.
Why are designer bags so expensive?
With one of the best designer bags to invest in, you’re not just paying for bragging rights but the time it’s taken to piece your new purchase together.
Take Loewe’s Puzzle Bag, for example. Epitomizing the level of craftsmanship that goes into making designer bags takes an eye-watering 524 steps to complete. That’s before we’ve even considered the fabric of luxury handbags.
And flying the flag for full supply-chain transparency, Mulberry has been members of the Leather Working Group since 2012. This first ensures that all of their leathers are a by-product of food production and livestock are properly treated. If you’re looking to make more ethical fashion choices, you can’t put a price on that level of commitment.
Can you rent a designer bag?
Yes! Renting one of the best designer bags has become increasingly popular. It’s a good option if you want to either test the waters with a particular bag you’re looking to invest in, or you are looking to shop more sustainably. You can rent a bag for a week or so from companies such as BagButler, and then return it when you’re done. It’s cheaper than buying and perfect if you’re just looking for a sweet piece of arm candy for a fancy party, wedding, or job interview. When you rent a designer bag, you can be a bit bolder with your choices too.
“The most popular brand across our selection is Chanel and the Lilac Mini Flap in particular. People are willing to invest in a classic black designer bag but fancy renting something more statement and colourful,” says Tina Lipfriend, founder of BagButler.
“Chanel made the bold move of raising their prices by up to 17% during the first lockdown. This hasn’t dented the popularity but has definitely made renting a great option for many people.”
As well as Chanel, Dior is also one of the most popular designers when it comes to borrowing a bag.
“The other piece that customers absolutely love is the Lady Dior. The black Saddlebag tends to appeal to a younger audience (fashion students) whereas the lady Dior tends to be rented by professionals,” adds Tina.
Are luxury bags a good investment?
The best designer bags have the potential to become a beloved, hand-me-down piece. But, if you want to find yours a new home outside of your circle, there’s plenty of money to be made on resale websites. Farfetch and Vestiaire Collective are our top picks. So, what sells well on the sites?
“The best investments tend to be timeless pieces that will never go out of fashion,” says Sophie Hersan, co-founder of Vestiarie Collective. “Hermes is still widely considered as a good investment and continues to be one of our bestselling brands. Several styles are highly coveted, and the history of the company adds to the exclusivity. There’s a mystery around the bags which makes them even more sought after.”
“Limited edition pieces are also something to consider when buying a handbag. Rarity drives up the price. A special colorway or limited edition collection for example increases demand.”
Do the best designer bags go on sale?
Yes and no. The most exclusive luxury designer handbags and labels, like Hermes and Louis Vuitton, never go on sale. To grab yourself a cheap Louis Vuitton bag or equivalent, it’s often a case of buying them secondhand from a reputable reseller (but be warned: they hold their resale value, so you won’t save much).
However, many of the other luxury labels do tend to have seasonal discounts on their best designer bags. And some brands have sample sales or even have designer outlets, such as the Mulberry factory shop, where you can save hundreds of pounds/dollars.