Words: Charlie Elizabeth Culverhouse
Everyone owns one, uses one on a regular basis. Whether you have a trusty staple that accompanies you on each and every outing, or you change up the style according to the necessities needed for a specific occasion, handbags are a wardrobe must-have for every single person.
To save you from hours of searching through the dropshipping listings and dodgy too-good-to-be-true ads that dominate search engines and social media, we’ve rounded up four of our favourite up-and-coming handbag designers whose arm candy transcends trends and will have you catching eyes whether you’re stepping out for a summer wedding or strutting the aisles of the supermarket.
Photo: Rommy Debommy
The epitome of one of a kind, Rommy Debommy, an accessories designer hailing from the Netherlands, works with clay and other materials to create handmade bags that are truly wearable art. All of the designs from this one-woman business are inspired by food whether it’s a bag resembling a half eaten birthday cake or a coin purse that can be easily mistaken for a cheeseburger off the Mcdonalds Saver Menu. Most of the designs are limited edition with only one of each style up for grabs on her website - and most are snapped up pretty quickly.
While the bags are uniquely gorgeous, with their niche aesthetic being their main draw for many customers, Rommy promises that every design is just as functional as it is beautiful. Her website explains that all of her designs have space inside for a phone, keys, small card wallet and some make-up so you don’t have to worry about sacrificing practicality in order to make a fashion statement. The designs are also surprisingly durable for all their detailing as every single piece is lovingly handmade, though you should definitely still be really careful with it. As Rommy says, “If you drop it on the ground it will definitely be ok, but don’t let your dog play with it.”
If you’re after a specific design that you can’t spot on her website, Rommy also does custom orders.
Handwoven by women in Tanzania, the bags on offer from Frekkle London will make you feel just as good as you look. Company founder Katie was in Tanzania on a self-proclaimed ‘grand adventure’ back in 2019 when she stumbled upon the handmade woven bags her company now sells worldwide and saw an opening. Since then, Freckle has not only been selling handbags across the globe but have also been providing a steady and much-needed source of income and independence for their female makers.
Each and every bag brings with it a sense of joy and a pop of colour, with a whole host of different colourways and designs available from their website. They offer three bag sizes, each working for a different occasion; little frekkles, which are the perfect size for an everyday on the go bag, shopper frekkles, designed to fit all your market stall shopping in, and maxi frekkles with long over the shoulder straps that are perfect for the beach, the park or a picnic adventure.
Each design is made using 100% polypropylene, a durable plastic material that means each bag is super strong and fully waterproof - perfect for those unpredictable British Summers.
SANTE is an independent brand that launched back in January 2020 and they’re already creating waves in the accessories industry. SANTE specialises in handmade beaded bags and their relationship to the materials they work with and celebrate is steeped in centuries of family history. Founder Sante Koranteng, who handcrafts each unique piece with her Aunt Grace, is the first in her family to bring beaded products over to Europe after a long family history of involvement in the designing and manufacturing of beaded accessories that dates back to the 1800s.
But it’s not just Sante’s family who have a longstanding history with beads and for anyone buying these handbags it’s important to understand their historic meanings. Sante explains on her website, “In most parts of Africa, beads are a symbol used in celebration of womanhood, sexuality, femininity , healing, spirituality and amongst other things – it is very important for me to preserve this culture.”
In keeping with Sante’s family history and the symbolic meaning of her materials, she promises that all beads used in manufacturing her designs are ethically sourced and made in Accra, Ghana. But how much variation can you get from solely using beads to create a product? As it turns out, quite a lot. There’s a myriad of styles to choose from on the SANTE website, all of which are handcrafted with care and built up using 100% reusable plastic beads. From block coloured shoulder bags made using transparent geometric beads, to technicolour totes that add interest to even the plainest of outfits, each and every piece from SANTE is created for the daring individual who is unafraid to pull attention - and be constantly answering the question, “Where did you get THAT bag?”
Katie France London
Photo: Katie France London
Katie France London is a brand who really knows its audience. Born from an agelong love of hearts and their unfailing ability to spread boundless joy, Katie France London’s focus is on creating as many versions of one design, a heart shaped bag called the Love Bomb Heart Bags, as possible. It’s a concept that has seen some seriously unique and unarguably cool styles. Put simply in Katie’s own words, her company is “A smile inducing brand for dopamine dressing babes.”
All of Katie’s collections are made from a mix of new, vintage and deadstock fabric and are carefully manufactured and handsewn by a small team based in the UK. But it hasn’t always been that way, Katie used to make and sell all the pieces from her bedroom - it’s been a long journey to her designs now being stocked in boutique stores.
From soft fabric leopard print hearts, to intricately fringed and statement-making designs, there's a bag to fit every personal style, aesthetic and occasion. You’ve likely seen the designs before, Instagram Influencers are obsessed with Katie’s handbags with author and certified cool girl Florence Given being just one who is consistently spotted sporting her designs. But if you’re not sold on purchasing a design, or you’re just, understandably, stuck on which one to pick, Katie’s handbags are available to rent exclusively on the Loanhood app. Speaking about her rentable designs on her website, Katie shared, “Renting fashion opens you up to trying lots of different styles you may not have tried before. It’s less of a commitment, it’s fun and means you can be playful with your looks!”