We spend a good amount of our time swooning over designer handbags, whether they're Bottega Veneta, Chloé, Hermès, The Row or Chanel. While our arm-candy allowance isn't quite what we'd like it to be, we never feel like we're missing out because there are so many affordable handbag brands that are creating bags just as covetable as those with four-figure price tags.
Still, the word "affordable" is hard to define. For one person, it might mean £30 spent on the high street. For another, it could mean an excellent charity-shop find that rings in at £5. And for some, it could mean a price as high as £350. But we think in order for a bag to be deemed affordable, it all comes down to how much you'll actually use it.
Aimee Song with a Charles & Keith handbag.
For example, a £40 bag might seem more affordable at the outset, particularly when you stack it up against designer heavyweights. Still, if you only use it once, then its cost per wear tells another story, and not a frugal one at that. But if you were to save up and treat yourself to a £300 bag and use it every single day for two years straight, then that's a better investment.
With this rationale in mind, we've included fifteen affordable handbag brands below that Who What Wear editors love and are constantly featuring in our stories. The prices range from £59 all the way to £380, so you're sure to find the one for you.
1. BY FAR
BY FAR's shoulder bags are practically fashion currency. Every editor and influencer seems to have one on their arm. Roomier than it looks, the Rachel is the perfect day-to-day bag for those who can pack lightly, while the Cush can house slightly more.
2. CHARLES & KEITH
One of the style set's best-kept secrets is Charles & Keith, which creates premium-looking footwear at more than reasonable prices. Now, its bags are proving even more popular than its shoes, and it's not hard to see why.
3. WHO WHAT WEAR
Designed by our very own editors and in-house experts, Who What Wear's collection of arm candy boasts some seriously fashionable pieces. Don't be fooled by their aesthetics, however—they're more affordable than they look.
Telfar's tote bags sell out faster than hotcakes, so it's worth keeping an eye on the brand's social media platforms for restock notifications. While the range boasts a kaleidoscope of colours, we have our hearts set on one of the neutral colourways to ensure maximum carrying potential.
COS consistently delivers some of the best handbags on the high street, making it very deserving of a place in our line-up. Like the rest of its wares, the stock tends to move quickly, and we've missed out on more excellent COS bags than we care to think about. Don't make the same mistakes as us.
One of our favourite discoveries of 2021, Oroton has been big news over in Australia for years. Lately, it has started gaining traction in style circles. Its clothes are a minimalist's dream. As are its bags.
An independent British label that makes bags we would ordinarily expect to pay three times the price for, Jeenaa is a name to know. With premium details like mock croc textures, statement silhouettes and gold chain straps, there's so much to like about these handbags.
8. LOEFFLER RANDALL
Created by a mostly female team, Loeffler Randall's designs are a potent blend of pretty and practical. Its lamé bow has become something of a signature on its shoes and has recent migrated to clutches, too. The brand's shoulder bags and crossbodies, however, are just as elegant.
Staud is another label that has caught the attention of fashion experts, and for all the right reasons. Although its clothes are just as covetable, it's Staud's shoulder bags that are the stuff of dreams. We just know this crochet-trimmed number will sell out fast.
If there's one brand that made a comeback this year, it's Coach. And it all comes down to its Tabby bag, which became accessory gold during the summer months. Though the puffed-up version of the bag was (and remains) all the rage, we find ourselves just as drawn to Coach's classic styles.
Launched in 2014, Chylak is a leather accessories label based in Poland, and it has gone on to create serious waves in the British fashion scene. Loved by influencers and celebrities alike, Chylak is now amassing waiting lists of 15,000 and creating accessories that sell out in just five minutes. Impressive, right?
12. DRAGON DIFFUSION
Dragon Diffusion's leather woven totes give the typical summertime basket bag year-round appeal. The oversized silhouettes make an impact no matter what you wear them with. We've seen people using them as everything from baby-changing bags to gym holdalls. To be fair, if we had one of our own, we'd find any excuse to use it, too.
13. JW PEI
Over the course of Fashion Month, it seemed like everywhere you turned, someone was carrying a JW Pei handbag. This, of course, is great news for us, as the directional arm candy comes in under £100.
Named after the French phrase, "elle aime," which means, "she loves," Parisian label Elleme serves up effortless accessories that stand the test of time. What we love about the brand is that the bags' silhouettes seldom change. Instead, Elleme explores new colours and fabrics to keep its clientele interested, ensuring the pieces they already own never really date.
15. LITTLE LIFFNER
This Stockholm-based leather goods label has become known for its less-is-more design approach, its focus on form and its reluctance to use any fashion embellishment or logos. These are truly designer bags for the minimalist age.