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The New Swag Of Handbags

Handbags are staging their out-of-iso 2020 comeback! From minimal leather designs to bucket bags essentials- these are the definitive Australian made handbag styles you need to know.

My first trip to the supermarket during the early pandemic panic of 2020 felt a little disorientating. Not only was toot paper missing from my regular weekly outing, but so was my handbag.

Yes, long before masks became mainstream, the biggest way to safeguard ourselves from the superbug was to ditch our purse.

I admit, it did feel somewhat liberating to stroll out in public with nothing but my phone, bank card and hand sanitiser sealed in a zip lock bag. Without five kilograms swaying from the crook of my arm, I certainly felt a little lighter. Plus, I was no longer having to rifle through tangled headphones, a stash of Maccas serviettes or calcified lip glosses to find my shopping list crumpled up in a sediment of crushed mints, tissue lint and the foil seals of paracetamol.

Then came the day I needed a band aid, a pen, a gold coin; or the day I could have sworn I felt my phantom bag bang against my hip only to look down and remember I never brought it with me. And then came the day I passed my neglected handbag on the bench in our hallway and noticed a fine deposit of dust on its quilted black leather. Even the brass hardware had seemingly lost its shine. My handbag had become the adult equivalent of a discarded toy; like a once-beloved teddy that got tossed under the bed, only to be forgotten.

Are handbags now a relic, I wondered? A wearable victim of the Coronavirus?

I still remember playing with mum’s hand-me-down handbag when I was little. Its leather softened, its zippers worn, its piping scratched and scuffed. I would pull out fake notes and one and two cent coins to pay for my sister’s backyard-baked mud pies at our cubby house drive-through. Was my own daughter now destined to grow up paying for invisible tea served in pink plastic by pulling out a pretend debit card from a zip lock bag? What an undeniable tragedy that would be.

As weeks turned into months, the initial lightness I felt gave way for a lacking in the confidence my carry-all once gave me — my essentials (bronzer, foldable umbrella, Liane Moriarty) were all literally within an arm’s reach.

As restrictions have now relaxed around the country, it’s somewhat comforting to see that we are no longer socially distancing ourselves from our handbags. However, in these post isolation days, perhaps the time is right to reassess our handbags and their functionality. And surely a new world calls for a new handbag, filled with our modern-day arsenal of defence against the everyday.

I can admit that looking at my handbag now — with the benefit of ziplocked hindsight — an oversize tote with zero fastenings is not the bag for me and the superfluous of fripperies I carry daily; I’m a girl who definitely needs more zippered compartments in my carry-all.

Consider also the tiny hip bag trend of last summer: these micro-bags no longer serve us sufficiently either — not now that hand sanitiser has overtaken the nailfile in the necessity department.

An “out-of iso” handbag needs to be multi-functional and versatile. It has to combine style with substance. It has to allow the wearer to embrace spontaneity- something we have lacked, and longed for, for so long. So whether you need an over the shoulder bag to take you from the school gate to supper club; a shopper to take you from the farmer’s market to the footy or a bucket bag to take you from the boardroom to the bar, if you are going to invest in a new bag, make it an Australian made bag — a bag that supports and nurtures the local industry of talented machinists and manufacturers. And save those zip lock bags for sandwiches.

Here’s our bagful of favourites!


A-ESQUE Crescent Belt Bag Grain Black

The modern day— and far more sophisticated take on the bum bag —this crescent-shaped piece can take on any number of style solutions: positioned to the front, side or back of your torso, either cross body or reduced in length to be worn as a belt bag. The gold-tone buckle provides ease in taking your piece on and off, allowing your preferred length to remain in place. Hand made inMelbourne Atelier. Italian full-grain aniline leather with 100% suede leather lining.


State of Escape Prequel XS Crossbody Bag in Cameo

A hybrid of style and pragmatism, the Prequel bag is designed to take you through the detours of each day. Design details such as a zip to keep your valuables in place and the removable crossbody strap will take you from day to night for a more elevated handbag style.


Convict Anette pouch bag in croc print leather in Brown

Annette is a good size carry-all with an easy width and depth to locate your essentials. The addition of a feature shorter handle, plus the standard comfort of a wild west strap, makes the carry options even more versatile. Made from luxurious summer cut cowhide and the soft aniline leather combinations or embossed croc and snake print leathers.


Atley Everyday Tote in Coffee

Beautifully crafted from high quality materials, this carry all totes combine a casual silhouette with a statement front open pocket. Serving as a functional and essential accessory for everyday, Atley.Co totes totes have been designed with double strength genuine leather straps, a convenient wool front pocket and an easy zipped dual interior pocket for your phone, wallet, sunglasses and keys.


Hills & WestThe Morgan 3 in 1 Backpack in Black

Bringing sexy back(pack)! This HiIls & West is the perfect out of iso bag- because it means you can jam pack it to suit any and every lifestyle. It can take you from the office to the gym; play date to picnic. Made with flexible yet structured pebbled black Furla leather, paired with premium gold hardware, it’s designed to be carried a variety of ways for versatility and ease.


Graine East of Brunswick bag in Black

The East of Brunswick bag is made in Graine’s Brunswick workshop from supple Australian bovine leather, sourced locally from within Victoria. A perfect everyday carry-all and weekend market/festival bag, features an adjustable cross-body strap, drawstring closure and an internal pouch for all your bits and pieces.

ABOUT THE WRITER

Anna Byrne grew up in Bendigo in regional Victoria before moving to Melbourne where she enjoyed a decade-long career as a columnist for the Herald Sun, becoming one of Australia’s most recognised lifestyle voices. Renowned for her insightful and humorous musings on the world of fashion and beyond, her take on style is both witty and refreshingly non-elitist. Anna loves musicals, McLaren Vale Chardonnay, the Melbourne footy club and can quote Muriel’s Wedding, verbatim. A passionate campaigner for small business, Anna is excited to join Buy Aussie Now as a freelance contributor. 

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