The 18 Most Coveted Fashion It Bags You Can Own For Under $500
Looking back at the timeline of fashion's biggest It bags, most seemed to derive from high-end, luxury fashion houses like Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. In more recent years, many of the trendiest handbags on the market come from younger and smaller fashion brands, and the good news is they often come without the $1,000+ price tag.
Admittedly, the fashion collective is still fawning over Bottega Veneta's $2,800 Padded Cassette bag (rightfully so), and Balmain's 1945 handbag collection (which ranges from $895 to $3,900) seems already poised for popularity. But there's something to be said for the slew of fresh offerings from smaller-scale brands that everyone from the everyday fashion fan to the trendiest celebs are loving for a fraction of the price. For example, Bella Hadid's street style has, at this point, become almost synonymous with By Far's Rachel bag, while a Kendall Jenner moment sparked a wide-spread love for Staud's $295 Moon Hobo Bag — both of which are brands boasting amazing leather quality and craftsmanship, along with an array of styles.
While we're still in comfy-apparel mode, you may have an eye out for a new handbag to spice things up. Ahead, we're sharing the 18 best handbag brands to dig into now, including the four styles a few shopping experts we spoke to recommend. Remember, trends come in all price ranges — and this time, you can grab them all for under $500.
When it comes to shopping for a quality handbag you'll fall in love with, Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director at MyTheresa, recommends opting for a piece that truly stands out. "I would recommend getting a bag in a statement color," she told POPSUGAR. "By Far [has] great styles and shapes like the baguette [in] a reasonable price range." Of course, the Bulgarian shoe and handbag label has garnered an immense cult following since its launch in 2016. With an emphasis on reviving styles from the '90s and early 2000s, it's no wonder the brand has become favorites of celebrities who also enjoy channelling an early-aughts wardrobe, such as Bella Hadid and Kylie Jenner.
If you favor a wardrobe that leans on boho while remaining super chic, Cult Gaia ought to be at the top of your list. The brand is indeed a cult favorite, having essentially reinvented cage bags while boasting a superior selection of natural-material bags (think rattan, bamboo, and raffia). In between, you'll find pretty much anything else your next vacation-inspired outfit could possibly need.
Built on the notion of accessible fashion by a Los Angeles-based husband and wife, JW Pei is home to just about every trending handbag silhouette at a small slice of many luxury prices. Offering a plethora of colorful and neutral crossbodies, shoulder bags, and everything in between, a unique touch to the brand is its separate selection of handbag straps, meant to be interchanged with the straps their bags come with originally.
We can thank Kendall Jenner for introducing us to this chic Californian brand. Staud's dreamy apparel line is another conversation in itself, but the brand's Moon Bag is undoubtedly a fashion favorite. That's not to say you should stop there — the remainder of the label's handbag collection is complete with croc embossed hobo bags and funky, beaded shoulder bags that are just as rave-worthy.
What isn't Zara good at? Just like the company's extensive clothing collection, Zara's bags come with a sophisticated approach to every season's biggest trends, without the elevated price tag. Zara's genuine leather pieces are often stylish finds worth celebrating, ranging from around $50 to $200 (plus, the brand says its pieces are tanned using the "most sustainable practices").
Zara Animal Embossed Leather Crossbody Bag
Designed initially with the notion of the "anti-It bag" in mind, according to designer Jesse Dorsey, BOYY is the NYC-born minimal handbag brand offering styles that feel like new classics. They're made of Italian leather and often complete with belt-buckle-esque detailing, and you've likely seen the label's bags all over your Instagram feed already. "The BOYY Bobby bags are a great investment and perfect for your everyday use," Rebecca Brewer, senior buyer at FWRD, told POPSUGAR. "I love that they use superior materials and have a modern, timeless look. Plus, you get luxury quality without the hefty price tag."
Even the dreamiest handbags may fall short in comparison to Khaore's eclectic styles. The brand describes itself as "artistic reinterpretations of the everyday and mundane." The result is handbags that feel simultaneously sculptural and artful yet wearable. Their current staple style, the Pillow, will undoubtedly make an undefeatable option when paired with a silk midi dress.
Khaore Athaarah Croc-Embossed Leather Clutch
At Wandler, perhaps you'll come for the effortlessly cool footwear, but believe us, you'll stay for the handbags. Sleek, chic, and minimal is the name of the game here, and you'll enjoy the brand's wearable hues of tans, burgundies, and creams (with the occasional animal print) that'll pair well with every trouser or dress you may own.
Having a fun, go-to handbag is kind of like having a fun, go-to friend. You kind of just need one. The Scandi label's handbags range from evening-ready leather bags to bold floral and animal prints. 'Nuff said.
Get ready to see more bead-embellished handbags in 2021 (the proof is in the runways), and the Ghana-based Depop shop Hands Bags has perfected the craft. If you've got a thing for pastels (or even just black, white, and taupe), consider the brand's handheld bags and crossbody pouches to add an instant touch of playful style to your day-to-day looks.
As the minibag craze simmers down, if only a little bit, hobo bags have made their way back onto the radars of fashion insiders. Should you be on the lookout for the everyday style, Marissa Galante Frank, fashion director for accessories and beauty at Bloomingdale's, recommends the camel-brown iteration from Aqua. "It's soft with plenty of room to hold your belongings," she told POPSUGAR. As one of the lower-priced brands on the list, Aqua is essentially the go-to for an under-$100 bag that hits nearly every handbag trend on the market.
Fashion becomes especially fun when the unexpected is involved, which is exactly what you get with BruceGlen. The brand crafts its bags in NYC with an emphasis on color and hardware. Characterized by unique shapes and thoughtfully colorblocked pieces, every handbag collection deserves at least one of the brand's hobo or bucket bags in rotation — and then some.
Alexander Wang's clothing has always felt like streetwear meets femininity meets high fashion, and the same can be said of the label's handbags. You'll particularly love the brand's collection if you're partial to dainty pieces with statement elements such as colored crystals, satin finishes, and the occasional and unorthodox lunch-bag silhouette.
Alexander Wang Wangloc Nano Crystal-Embellished Leather Shoulder Bag
If you're into handbags that reflect the season, just know that Scandinavian brand Stand Studio basically takes the cake for best winter handbags ever (though yes, they can totally be worn whenever you want). Think of the brand's quilted faux-leather bags as a pillow for your arm and the most statement casual piece ever (a delightful paradox).
Stand Studio Assante Quilted Faux-Leather Tote Bag
Stand Studio Wanda Quilted Faux Leather Bag
Lovers of an ultrafeminine look will find that Rosantica's handbags check off all the boxes. Statement chains, pearls, velvet, feathers, and various offerings of blush pink sufficiently sum up the brand's core attributes, making it perfect for your special-occasion handbag shopping (you know, for when special occasions are a thing again).
Rosantica Mini Vera Crystal Strap Satin Bag
Rosantica Lido Faux Pearl-Embellished Wicker Tote
Rosantica Lido Faux Pearl-Embellished Wicker Tote ($405, originally $810)
Did you think Paco Rabanne's chain-mail genius stopped at its dresses? The brand carries its signature design element into the world of handbags by way of dainty sequin and metal creations. With a color palette that typically leans on neutrals such as silver, gold, and black, your styling options with many of the brand's handbags are endless despite their extravagant nature. Even still, the blue, pink, and orange irritations would make the perfect addition to your favorite little back dress.
Paco Rabanne Paillette-Embellished Mini Bag
Somewhere between the minibags and the supersize totes are the handbags that are simply the right size to get the job done. "It's all about hands-free these days," Caroline Maguire, fashion director at Shopbop, told POPSUGAR. "Think bags that are the perfect size for your keys, hand sanitizer, wallet, and sunglasses. I love the Núnoo Helena crossbody because it's perfect for holding all your go-to accessories while remaining petite and chic."
See by Chloé
The little sister to luxury label Chloé doesn't fall far from the tree. Just as Chloé does, See by Chloé reigns in the boho aesthetic and chic suede creations with a particular knack for neutral tones. The brand's signature chunky gold hardware lends a certain versatility to its handbags, making them just as easy to dress down as they are to dress up.