When Luxury Economics Open The Door For More Affordable, Yet Stellar, Design

A few weeks ago. when these comments abounded with recommendations on bag designers, I thought, “Hmm, great ideas deserve a post of their own.” When, a few days later, Refinery29 featured beautiful, reasonable less-stratospherically-priced bags from a new online store called Roztayger, I realized we had a thing going on. A real, economic, strategic, trend.

To say nothing of a few new retail resources.

See, my theory is that when brands like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Givenchy et. alia spend huge sums on branding luxury, they raise the price ceiling and allow good designers to make a reasonable margin on less-branded luxury goods. Or what we at least might call Luxurious Goods. So as long as we, the consumers, spread the word and keep marketing costs low, better-than-good design and high-quality materials can survive.

Some examples. First, take a look at a couple of Roztayger finds. The Fluke by Tsatsas. The most expensive of the lot, at just over $1K.


The Angle Tote, by Lotuff Leather. LotuffAngleChestnut3


And how about the brands you guys recommended? Some far lower price points. Look at these! Using a bit of my very limited exclamation point budget here. The Oryany Sydney on sale at Neiman Marcus.



Cynthia recommends Liebeskind Berlin and I love the Dania Hay, in linen and leather. Rough and ready summer elegance. Delicious. Sold out on the Liebeskind site, still available in Germany, here.

Liebeskind Linen and Leather Bag

Or, this Avorio via Catherine N., and this Groom Paris recommended by Duchesse.



Apparently Libaire is local to me. I love the focus on classic shapes and excellent materials. Thanks, GS.




The Luxurious Goods trend extends beyond the US. Sally at Already Pretty is hosting a giveaway for these UK-built bags.

White Rhodesian of Edinburgh 341x400


And don’t forget global artisans, via sites like 10,000 Villages.

There are more. Below is the list of some other makers you suggested, either fairly new to me…

One final point, fueled by my amateur economic theories. I noticed that in the big stores, the tier just under traditional intensively branded and marketed luxury goods is filled by intensively branded and marketed not-so-luxurious goods. Hmm. I’m referring specifically to the lines of Tory Burch, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe Kate and Tory have real design chops. So does Mr. Kors, particularly in his pre-Project Runway mode of minimalist luxe. But I think their business offices may have decided to sell bags via what we might call logo-loading, and to pocket/invest the resultant profits. Granted, marketers are artists of sorts, but I like the idea of throwing my economic heft to hands-on designers and crafters as well.


Affiliate links may provide commission. Note: If you ever want to know which links are affiliate, and which are not, you can see when you click. For example, the Roztayger links above are not affiliate, the Claire Vivier is. Also, I’ve checked all these links to make sure they work (hence the lateness of this morning’s post) but if I missed any, please let me know.

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  • Perfect timing for graduation gifts. Thanks Lisa!

    9:17 am
    Lisa said...

    @Margaret Goodhouse, You’re welcome!

  • Thanks for the comprehensive research for those of us bag obsessed. A local shop carries the M0851 and I can vouch for the drool worthy quality and design. I own a Libaire, a bargain snag when I visited the “factory” in Berkeley; also very high quality materials and it’s always nice to support local manufacturing.

  • Those Libaire bags seem to be a nice option for those who like simple designs without a lot of hardware. Great choices here!

  • I’m not a fan of “branded” bags. I just don’t want to be walking around with a bag that everyone else has. I DO, however, have a thrifted vintage Coach bucket bag in navy that a friend gave me, and a couple of Kate Spades I bought “back in the day.” But I rarely use those. The bag I get the most comments on is my Clare Vivier Messenger bag. I warn you, though, it’s unlined! (Suede fuzzies!) And Mansur Gavriel is a new fave, as well as Il Bisonte (Pricey!)

    11:13 am
    Elizabeth said...

    hi Mamavalveeeta03 – love that name…. The Clare V messengers come with lining now ! :) in a natural cotton lining. Gives the bag more body as well:)

    9:18 am
    Lisa said...

    @Mamavalveeta03, I love the Mansur Gavriel stuff to death…that bucket bag kept getting sold out, otherwise, might have been mine.

  • I must have really odd ideas about handbags. I clicked on every link and the only one I liked the look of is the Oryany Sydney, which is quite attractive, looks well-made, has some exterior pockets, a wide shoulder strap and is fairly affordable–on sale. But it has a magnetic closure, which I hate, plus it’s so heavy! Two pounds–before I put anything in it? I can’t carry that around. I still love my Hobo International Extra-Large Explorer Bag that found half-price at Amazon. It has everything I have ever wanted in an everyday handbag. In a pinch, it even fits my laptop! If I had known they were going to discontinue it, I would have bought two and put one away. But it looks like you have something there for everyone else who reads your blog. Um, I hesitate to mention this, but I have two pretty handbags by Kate Spade that I bought at Nordstrom on sale, maybe ten years ago. I’m now embarrassed to confess it, but I love them both. They’re certainly luxurious enough for Panorama City, even if they don’t make the cut in the swankier neighborhoods.

    9:19 am
    Lisa said...

    @Wendy Bird, Oh, I think Kate Spade 10 years ago is like Coach 20 years ago. True talent on the upswing, really filled a niche. It’s only recently that I see the impact of maybe a more profit-driven strategy.

  • I admit to liking both high end luxury bags, without big logos, as well as hands on, locally designed bags by in particular, Kendall Conrad, who you mentioned.

    They’re not inexpensive, but they’re very classic, well made and have a really great aesthetic I think.

    Bags are an area that I’m willing to splurge on, as my daily uniform is jeans, and a shirt or tee. I think when you dress casually all the time, and don’t change bags, having a really beautiful bag makes a huge difference in your look.

  • There is a lovely shop in New York that sells American designed, Italian made leather and skin bags. It is called Suarez and is a small family business that has been in owned and operated by the same family for 3 generations. Their shop is located at 5 West 56th Street. They also have a wonderful website which showcases their inventory by catagory. I have been buying bags there since the 1980’s and find that the quality and craftmanship are excellent. I am still carrying the bags I bought 30 years ago. They are investment bags but will last a lifetime. The website is http://www.suarezny.com. The bags have minimal hardware and are made from the softest leather. Anyone who loves handbags would love this shop, the website and the wonderful staff.
    Thanks for a great and well written blog. I enjoy it regularly.

    Rhea Condra

    9:21 am
    Lisa said...

    @Rhea Condra, Love those, especially this one with the butterfly print! http://www.suarezny.com/product/farfalle

    8:41 pm
    GS said...

    @Rhea Condra, Rhea Condra, thank you for reminding me about Suarez! I’d almost forgotten about them and am so glad they’re still in business. Years ago, I almost bought a beautiful tote there for the then-unheard-of price of $500. (This would have been the early 90s.) I still remember the amazing quality of the leather. I may need to go back there the next time I’m in NYC!

  • Aunts and Uncles has a cute web site.

  • I agree with the poster who isn’t happy with a ‘branded’ bag & I prefer a little mystery to my bags , so will be ploughing through your list . I expect it to be a little frustrating as many smaller companies don’t ship to the UK . Personally ,whilst the design is of course important even a rather plain bag is lifted by real quality leather , which is hard to gauge on the net . My own favorite leathers , so far , are Ally Capallino, Jill Sander , il bisonte & Jerome Dreyfuss ( Isabel Marant’s partner I understand) – all European , but only because that is my area . I do like to feel a bag before I buy .

  • The simple leather bags you’re showing here are lovely…but…I don’t have a car and do my running around town on public transit or walking. So I need a lighter weight. it can be tricky to carry what I’ll need for my day and at the same time, show some consideration for my shoulders and back. Have you or other readers seen anything that would fit that bill?

    9:24 am
    Lisa said...

    @LauraH, That’s exactly the situation I was in when I worked in the city. I carried my work stuff in a Duluth backpack, and put a Bottega Veneta cross-body inside for lunch outings.

  • Ooh, so lovely things there. I do love pretty bags, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend hundreds on them. These days I get my bags from TKMaxx – they have a big range of with some good quality leather bags (even some designer brands).

  • I quite agree on the logo-loading. Accessories and scents these days are mostly produced under license but sold expensively. And I suspect the original designer never had a hand in their making.

    If it’s how you roll you can find wonderful bags from upcycled materials, sturdy, handmade and wholly original – here in Europe.

  • So happy to find so many of your commenters are anti-logo; I am also. I have two Coaches from when I was in college (do they count as “vintage” if they have been in my closet the entire time?) and two favorite, essentially logo-less bags from trips to Paris: a Gerard Darel “24 hours” and a Marc Labat satchel that I think isn’t made any more, but is similar in concept to the Foley & Corinna Mid-City. Neither was super-expensive in bag terms, less than $400, but I like that they are mysterious to US eyes.

    11:11 am
    Lisa said...

    I say yes to vintage means we bought it 20 years ago:). And mysterious – yes, I understand.

  • Lisa, as usual you are spot on about the non-luxurious goods of Burch, Spade, Kors and co. I’ve been away in NY on business (and some pleasure) and so I missed your nice inquiry to me on a previous post. I’m happy to say that I’m enjoying style once again. In fact, thanks to you, a stylish young colleague told me she wanted to look like me when she grew up because I was “effortlessly badass.” (I had thrown on a black moto jacket over a dress, a look from my youth that I might have shied away from now–until I read you.)

    10:11 am
    Lisa said...

    That just made my day:).

  • Mom my has been looking for a classic designed purse, with out all the logo bells and whistles for many years. I sent her to Libaire, she visited their factory/show rooom and was very happy. Thanks for the suggestion!

    6:43 pm
    Lisa said...

    So happy to be useful! Let’s thank GS, who brought the brand to my attention!

  • These bags all look amazing. I will have to look into the prices a little more. This would be a perfect gift for my friends birthday. I am sure she would love something like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Most high end designer bags are so expensive. But there are good quality cheap ones that is still durable as the expensive ones.

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