A few years ago, it would have seemed foolish for a designer to sell a handbag without any recognizable logo, signature hardware, or distinguishable add-ons. But the tides have turned, thanks in no small part to the success of indie brand Mansur Gavriel and its pared-down bucket bag.
Now, many of the most covetable carryalls are identifiable only to those in the know. With only supple leather, sturdy construction, and clever design to set their bags apart from the pack, brands can’t fall back on gimmicks in order to make them sell.
And then, of course, there’s the cost: While handbags may be big business for many designers, from the shopper’s standpoint, finding something that hits the sweet spot between head-spinningly expensive and so cheap it falls apart within a few wears is not always an easy task. High-end labels like Céline and Saint Laurent price even their smaller bags around the $2,000 mark, while at the midrange price point, leather goods tend to be adorned with conspicuous logos that can make a bag feel dated faster than expected.
Thus, the enduring appeal of minimalist totes, satchels, and cross-bodies with relatively attainable price tags (not cheap, mind you, but definitely more proportionate to the quality). Right now, alas, every last thing on the Mansur site is sold out—as it has been for the better part of two years—but there are plenty of labels making comparable styles that don’t come with a waiting list.
Click through the slideshow for 15 subtle, sophisticated bags that will satisfy your craving for unfussy accessorizing.