Purses, pochettes, satchels and saddle bags are unfailingly excellent gifts. These practical accessories serve as fashionable accentuation to outfits as well as functional, portable depositories so we can safely and stylishly carry our treasures. Suitable for both the maximalists and minimalists in your life, a bag is the perfect gift for everyone on your list. We're sharing just a few of our favorite bag designs from this year but gift worthy bag options are endless!
The first stop on our accessorizing itinerary is the Philippines. Here, we visit MCV Designs and drool over their vibrant, woven pieces. Locally sourced "rattan, raffia, pandan, sodsod grass and kamagong wood" are caned to build an open, paned, natural lace that is an idyllic compliment to the strong geometric lines of the underlying bag structures: a solihiya weave of pandan lays atop raffia lining on a structured circle bag, wooden handles and Batik fabric support the rusted, tawny weave on the face of tall totes, and sheets of rigid, two-toned, perforated patterns meet to form the angular trianglular sides of jazzy handbags, topped with tapered acrylic handles. Following the handwoven motifs of traditional weavings, those historically used to create mats and furniture, the solihiya pattern is reimagined as a textural embellishment that takes center stage on these gorgeous bags.
If the breezy openings in the solihiya pattern catch your eye, you'll adore the Open Weave Malaika bags from Bella Ragazza in Tanzania. A natural oatmeal hue, basket-esque woven texture, paired with the gently tapered tote form, establishes an impressive and aesthetic base for this multi-purpose, functional accessory that the movers and shakers on your gift list are sure to adore. The generous, uninterrupted cavern formed by the walls of the Malaika bag makes the bag the nonpareil vehicle for the laptops and agendas we need quick access to but the piece is equally equipped to protect our produce when it accompanies us to grocery stores and farmers markets with its natural fiber construction and breathable open weave. The unobstructed design also contributes to a bag that, admittingly unexpectedly, is an exceptional carry on choice as there's no need to struggle under the airline seat in front of you trying to dig through crowded pockets looking for headphones; plus, any unexpected stops by airport security are quickly rectified thanks to the welcomed visibility offered by the light that peaks through the open weave. The Malaika bag defines versatility confirming it has a place in everyone's routines and wardrobes.
Alliteratively journeying from Tanzania to Tazmania, we switch out our summer Malaika for Henk Berg's Catie Tote as our every-day bag during the colder season. The warm, vegetable-tanned leather used to construct the tote is available in a satiny sienna, chocolatey carob, and seductive maduro browns, supple obsidian black, and a tenebrous moss, shades that all impart a devastatingly chic identity to an otherwise simplistic design. A pocket system affixed to the inside of one panel of the bag holds space for organization without obstructing the main pocket of the tote. The understated exterior, while certainly not insipid thanks to the bag's deliberate proportions and epic colour, renders this accessory an easy addition to any style. If you're looking for a larger, more masculine design, you must look at their Theo weekender bag!
In some situations, we don't need the spaciousness of a full sized bag and, instead, we turn to smaller hand-held designs that carry only the handful of items necessary for our urban adventures. One such bag is the petite powerhouse, envelope wallet from South African group Zambezi Grace.
ZAMBEZI GRACE is a luxury accessories group. In the creation of our Nile crocodile-leather goods brands, we combine age-old master craftsmanship and innovative design to create luxurious items in limited numbers. Our integrated supply chain and responsible stewardship promotes environmental, agricultural and manufacturing sustainability. (x)
We were lucky enough to visit the Zambezi Grace US showroom in Massachusetts and, upon entering, we were welcomed by trays of Nile crocodile-leather wallets, pouches, purses, and belts that honestly left us breathless. Eyes widened from the luxurious brilliance of the crocodile texture and the sheer, almost overwhelming range of available designs, we poured over the styles like honey, sticking with sweetness to every item we touched, until we had inadvertently ended up with a an unreasonably large collection of accessories to purchase. Then we spotted the envelope design in a dazzlingly bright, glossed citrine that blinded us to the other beautiful bags. The envelope pocked is suspended on a wristlet band and that levitates it beside us when we carry the bag. It should come as no surprise that this bold and spirited handheld gem is the accessory that consistently garners the most compliments when we're in Miami. In our opinion, the citrine design is a must-have but if your loved ones would prefer something more subdued, Zambezi Grace is home to an abundance of luxurious pieces in natural leather hues that exhude sophistication and elegance.
Another opulent envelope comes to us from Dilbar Fashion House. Ravishing velour-covered forms are embellished with the silken boarders along the peaks of envelope forms, peaks that themselves that are ornamented with accentuating tassels. The warm, deliciously deluxe palette of the bag on the left is enough to make us swoon and the Asian textile influence we spot in the floral banded pouch imparts a suaveness that bestows each handheld accessory with palatial authority. These bags are expertly arranged bouquets of textiles that will be the decorative centerpiece of every outfit one pairs with them.
One size larger than the Dilbar clutch is the ultramodern Clu Bag from Polish Foks Form. A broad, page-like white or black pocket opens at an oxidized brass coloured zipper set several inches from the top of the bag and centered on the face of the form. Once one adds their belongings to the bottom of the pocket, the bag gets folded in half allowing the top and zipper to drape over the bottom and create a layered clutch of supple leather. When in this narrowed shape, the zipper reveals a smaller pocket formed in what originally was the top of the bag and two smaller pockets, sized to hold your cards and IDs, sit within this newly established space. Aside from its crushingly aesthetic modernity, the bag's two section design is what defines this epically successful accessory. Items you want quick easy access to can rest in the smaller pocket created when the bag is folded, separated from the less-used objects that remain at the bottom on the opposite side of the dividing leather fold. It's a beautifully simplistic and admirably ingenious design that's uniquely suited for an organized contemporary lifestyle.
Should your loved ones want to accessorize with a bit more colour, we recommend the HAMA Syrian Clutch from Artisan and Fox (you may remember Artisan and Fox from last year when we featured their etherial handblown cups!). While we try not to feature brands twice in order to introduce you to as many of our favorite companies as possible, we couldn't compile a list of bags without spotlighting this hand-stitched masterpiece.
The HAMA Syrian Clutch is hand-stitched with quality cotton threads in Syria, with its contemporary yet cultural design paying homage to ancient Aleppo traditions...This Syrian clutch is hand-stitched by an internally-displaced Syrian artisan who was forced to flee due to conflict and violence. Since the time of the ancient Phoenicians, Syrians have been producing some of the world’s most delicate textiles, with local craftsmen known for their skills across ancient empires. The women artisans are heirs to these age-long traditions. (x)
In partnership with the Sabbara Embroidery organization, a group that supports Syrian women refugees and directs the profits "helping refugee women kit ripped lives back together" and "helping them and their children stay in school, often in areas where NGOs are unable to reach" (x), Artisan and Fox shares a bag that is as much a gesture of impactful cultural support as it is a dizzying mirage of lineal color.
The HAMA bag finds texture through dense trails of embroidery-like stitching, but the Thelma Beaded Clutch, handmade in Bali, is a landscape of tilled rows formed in the depths between lines of strung black and gold beads. The beads have irregularly sized, circular shapes so even the darkest swaths of black find a dappling of glistening as light collects on the uneven surfaces of the beaded banks. And then there are the gold beads, which have an intrinsic metallic luminosity that is classically luxurious. The underlying structure of handwoven bamboo chevron acts as an accenting, natural lining that's unexpected given the opulence of the impressive beadwork but is an absolutely welcomed balancing force. A rim of bamboo extending above the base of the rectangular bag nestles comfortably inside the hollow lid for an unusual box-like design that makes the clutch feel like a box of treasures.
We take a trip to Peru to find tassels dangling at the side of Peru Bonito's alpaca wood clutches. Handmade by artisans in Ayacucho, Peru, simple, rectangular white forms are decorated by the subtle accent of relief-like embroidered circles that walk along the surface in a band of geometric footsteps. Two tassels fixed to the zipper shade the corner of the bag and bounce across the woven texture of the surface when the zipper is pulled along its rails. The body of this bag is undyed but the tassels, in an enthralling black, are given their colour using only natural dyes. The graphic black and white colour palette offers a boldness but also a versatile stylishness so those on your gift list can pair the purse with any outfit.
Next, we jump north to Colombia to visit Maria Fuentes's Coro Cora brand. Iraca toquilla palms are tightly woven to form the lightweight structure of this luscious botanical bag. But the palms find their truest transformation when they're dyed and woven into delectable produce shapes.
Using different weaving patterns, the natural fibers become leaf topped apples, speckled slices of watermelons and bananas with their recognizable negative geotropic curves. These fruits then drip from the rim of the bags, just below pairs of ring handles woven with matching coloured palms for a vibrant accent to the biscuit tones of the undyed fiber base. The bag is uniquely fun and unlike anything your loved ones have seen. Trade out the recycled plastic grocery bags for these succulent orchards and your everyday errands will become runways for newfound fashion!
Last, but definitely not least, are the Afri-root Collective Bark Cloth Pouches. East African artists use accenting threads to decorate the bags which are "made from a unique [multi-layered, naturally fragile,] non-woven fabric from the bark of a ficus Natalesis “mutuba tree”(x). The designs, ranging from ripple-like concentric circles to abstracted prints that resemble disguising tiger strips or the marbled shadows from tall grasses, the designs inspired by African patterns and impart additional texture and luminosity that shines amidst the richly sueded appearance of the hide-like bark . It's the unbelievable magnificence of this bark cloth that defines the pouches as unique, impressive handheld accessories. To put it bluntly, the material is—and the bags themselves are— really really cool.
To create the non-woven fabric, the fibrous underbark of the tree is harvested in large ribbons which are then pounded to form thin sheets that are treated by the sun to become supple flexible stained cloth that's sustainable, eco-friendly, and entirely vegan. Great care is taken to protect the trees during this process, as, because of their ability to regenerate their bark, the trees can provide generations of harvesters with bark for fabric. While this pouch is designed to house writing implements, we find its intrinsic delicacy and awe-inspiring beauty is better appreciated and preserved if we carry the pouch as a decorative clutch. But we don't deny that you'd be the envy of coworkers and classmates if you pulled a pencil from this arresting bag. Plus, Afri-root Collective reinvests a portion of all proceeds to programs that train men and women and promote sustainability so your purchase benefits people beyond those on your gift list!
Don't forget to check out the rest of the 2021 HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE and return tomorrow for the reveal of a new category of gifts! This week, we featured sculptural jewellery, and stylish wears for heads and feet so if you're on the hunt for accessorizing gifts that can elevate every inch of an outfit it's worth visiting the full guide!