If 2020 was the year that turned closets into cemeteries for all the outfits that coulda-woulda-shoulda been, 2021 will see those untouched ensembles resurrected as artefacts from The Before: sparkly relics to be admired, not worn — at least not yet. And with the fashion biggies like Vuitton, Gucci, Loewe, “etc” (did you catch that v subtle Off-White nod?) blessing our screen-fatigued eyes with a slew of new handbag-shaped masterpieces, it seems the closet-cum-museum situation might catch on for the long term.
If you hear the word handbag and immediately think dust receptacle, it’s time to ditch your 2020 goggles for good. Now that the-year-that-shall-no-longer-be-named is officially behind us, the future of fashion is filled with swoon-scrolling, not doom-scrolling. The latest trend train with nearly every major luxury house on board is limited and collector’s-edition artist collabs (oh hello, Keith Haring, Ken Price, and Urs Fischer), delightfully unexpected partnerships (looking at you, Longchamp x Pokémon), and exclusive Lunar New Year capsules (Prada, Fendi, Dior). It’s enough to transport the mind straight into sartorial fantasy land. Let’s hang here for a bit.
If you’re not buying what we’re selling here, then consider what J.W. Anderson’s latest capsule has to say: “The secret of life is in art.” This famous quote featured on all sorts of tops and totes is more than just the wise words of Oscar Wilde — it’s a reminder of the power of design to bring us joy, to instil hope, and to make us want to sling an incredible bag over our shoulders and head out into the world armed with the passion of a thousand literary geniuses. Ahead, we’ve rounded up the top collector-style bag capsules this season that are just waiting to be ogled, be it on your shelf or on your screen.
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Amidst all the buzz surrounding its unlikely (but groovy!) North Face collaboration — there were sleeping bags! and tents! — the ever-whimsical Gucci introduced its manga-inspired Doraemon capsule collection in celebration of Lunar New Year. The cat-like character has been sent from the 22nd century not only to help a young boy named Nobita (as the story goes), but to grace the exteriors of an exclusive range of covetable bucket bags, totes, and more that are peak Gucci goodness.
Doraemon x Gucci Small Bucket Bag, $, available at Gucci
Designer Jonathan Anderson has always admired Oscar Wilde for more than just his literary prowess. The outspoken writer was a rebel of his times who subverted the status quo, so Anderson launched this capsule collection to harness that audacious spirit. This tote, along with every other piece in the collection, is emblazoned with Wilde words (see what we did there?) that serve as a mantra for Anderson’s approach to design and to life.
JW Anderson Oscar Wilde Capsule: Belt Tote, $, available at JW Anderson
For a purse that tells a story, look no further than the vibrant designs from Loewe’s Ken Price Collection. The American artist drew inspiration everywhere from Mexican folk art to surf culture to sunny landscapes — all of which come to life as pieces of the luxury label’s signature Puzzle Bag.
Loewe Ken Price Collection Puzzle Easter Island Small Bag, $, available at 24S
In the glorious world of fashion, there are statement bags, and then there are bags that literally make a statement. No one knows this better than Virgil Abloh, who made his mark on the industry in the shape of aggressive logos and chunky words in quotation marks. In the latest from his Special Items category, Abloh has introduced the Jitney Bag with a whole batch of fresh phrases like “Not For Sale” and “Rent Money.”
Off White 2.8 Jitney Quote Bag, $, available at Off White
In yet another perfect marriage of art and style this season, Louis Vuitton launched its incredibly lovable LV x UF collection featuring an exclusive print by Swiss conceptual artist Urs Fischer, who reimagined the House’s iconic logo as a deconstructed graphic. Handbags featuring this print will only be around for a limited time, so get yours while it’s hot — or simply enjoy ogling at one before the collection goes down in industry history.
LVxUF Pochette Accessoires Handbag, $, available at Louis Vuitton
If you love all things Pikachu, why stop at collecting cards? In the match-made-in-fashion-heaven that no one saw coming, Longchamp has partnered with Pokémon to create the cutest collab we ever did see.
Longchamp x Pokémon Top Handle Bag S, $, available at Longchamp
While Fendi launched a luxe and lust-worthy range of styles to welcome the Year of the Ox, the House’s iconic selection of baguettes are always too delicious to resist. This embroidered iteration, in particular, is deserving of a spot on the highest of pedestals to be admired forever and always.
Fendi Bag with Multicolour Embroidery, $, available at Fendi
For a limited-time designer bag that won’t totally make your eyes water with just one look at the price tag, step into the imaginative world of Marni Market. Inspired by the colourful hues of a garden in bloom, these striking hand-woven PVC basket bags are probably unlike anything else in your accessories collection, giving form to special patterns with a pixelated effect.
Marni Market Market Woven Shopping Bag, $, available at Farfetch
It appears that Coach really caught the art bug with this special-edition collab on top of a collab featuring pop artist Keith Haring’s subversively playful illustrations of the one-and-only Mickey Mouse.
Disney Mickey Mouse X Keith Haring Kisslock Bag, $, available at Coach
Imagine an impeccable arrangement of hibiscus flowers that’s yours to adore for a lifetime. That’s pretty much what you get with the bucolic designs of Dior’s Lunar New Year capsule — a handbag-shaped bouquet you can take with you everywhere.
Dior Small Dior Book Tote, $, available at Dior
To ring in the Year of the Ox, Versace presents a capsule collection fit for the most glamorous of fêtes. Think bold, dynamic prints featuring Versace at its finest like this exclusive reinterpretation of the House’s famed Medusa Amplified motif.
Versace Lunar New Year Medusa Amplified Hobo Shoulder Bag, $, available at Farfetch
Even Salvatore Ferragamo’s signature Bow Bag is getting the Chinese New Year treatment with the release of a bold, original print depicting the Ox arriving second at the emperor’s palace.
Salvatore Ferragamo Viva Bow Bag Small, $, available at Salvatore Ferragamo
This aptly named Mermaid Bag is almost as rare as the mystical creature itself considering it can be found exclusively at Selfridges. The only thing missing from its innovative, shape-shifting style and interlocking prism motifs is a frame.
Bao Bao Issey Miyake Mermaid Vinyl Tote Bag, $, available at Selfridges
As if the award-winning elegance of The Row wasn’t enough to land any one of its designs in a museum, Net-A-Porter now has a small selection of exclusive tote and backpack styles that’ll make your heart pound.
The Row N/S Park Textured-Leather Tote, $, available at Net-A-Porter
Always on-trend Prada is joining this year’s Chinese New Year celebrations featuring the label’s soon-to-sell-out Cleo bag. The launch is part of Prada’s ‘Enter 2021. New Possibilities’ campaign, which is described as “a metaphorical journey” into the future.
Prada Enter 2021 New Possibilities Cleo Shoulder Bag, $, available at Prada
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