By Serina Tatham
Handbags have the ability to transform an otherwise plain outfit. Adding a crossbody with a pop of colour or a clutch adorned with sequins, bags don’t have to be purely functional. But it’s important that you don’t make impulse purchases and that they are versatile and will last.
To help you become a conscious handbag consumer, keep reading for our tips on how to choose the perfect handbag.
Step 1: Budget
The first thing to think about is how much you can realistically invest in a bag. You don’t want to continuously buy bags every few years after they’ve worn badly, but equally spending hundreds on a trend bag that you won’t get the wear out of isn’t sensible. With the future of fashion being seasonless, make purchases when you need them, rather than when the seasons dictate that you should. Whilst you may spend more initially, you’ll save money in the long run as the bag will be better quality and you won’t need to keep replacing it.
Step 2: Functionality and durability
What are you buying the bag for? Is it an everyday bag, a work bag, or something for special occasions? This will determine the style, size, and what material is best. Also, keep your body shape in mind. Large bags can swamp smaller frames, so be aware.
Durability is something that’s also important to be mindful of. Material like suede or straw may look great, but they don’t wear well. Fine for occasional use, they’re not the most sensible choice for a day-to-day bag. Also, cheaper handbags made of pleather or PVC will need constant replacement. Leather or a good quality vegan alternative are the most durable and hardwearing, and don’t scratch as easily. However, you do need to do your research. Make sure the leather is ethically sourced and tanned without metals, as chrome and other substances used in the process can seep into the water supply, eroding the soil and having devastating health implications for the locals. To learn more about leather, pleather, and the problems surrounding the two, read our article here so you can make an informed decision about which material you’ll choose for your next purchase.
For bags you’ll use every day:
- Leather is better as it is hardwearing
- Top handle satchel, bucket, or crossbody are best as they give you the option of being hands-free and are deceptively spacious
- Choose a colour like tan, navy or black as this will go with most of your wardrobe
- Internal pockets
- Hardwearing leather
- A tote bag or backpack are your best bet as these are the roomiest options
- Lots of pockets
For evenings or special occasions:
- Clutch bags fit the essentials whilst not being overly large
- Choose a bold colour or a fun material like sequins
- Tote bags make great carry-on bags, fitting all your essentials and providing easy access
- Duffle or weekender bags are ideal for shorter stays
When choosing a bag, it’s important that you don’t over or under spend. You may think you’re being savvy in the moment, but more often than not your purchase will either fall apart or won’t date well. Slow down and really think: does it meet your brief? By becoming conscious consumers we can ensure that the future of fashion is circular.
Don’t shop based on trends or seasons, but based on love and practicality. Not only will this help your bank, but you’ll also be saving the planet and bring a halt to fast fashion.
Shop our edit of our favourite ethical handbags below:
To learn more about how the way you shop makes a difference, our article on how to be a mindful fashion lover Is great places to start. If you need a motivating reminder of why ethical fashion is the only viable future for the industry, our round-up of the best documentaries will provide some inspiration, as will our article on how to stay switched on to the climate crisis.
If you liked any of these brands and have decided to invest in a forever bag, tag us @keiseimgz on Instagram so we can drool over your new purchase. If you know of any other designers that champion sustainability, comment below to share with the KeiSei community.