One of my favourite American brands, Proenza Schouler, is the ultimate in classic luxury. Beautifully designed garments using luxe fabrics compliment their growing range shoes and accessories. Making its foray into the world of it-bags, Proenza Schouler started off with an oversized satchel called the PS1 in 2008, quickly becoming a celebrity favourite. Using sumptuous leathers with minimal branding, Proenza Schouler releases several new styles a season, all of which are covetable in the own right.
This tote is at the top of my list for a reason. Perfectly sized straps so you can sling ir over the shoulder, plenty of room inside to carry all the necessities and most importantly, a timeless design that will last a lifetime.
Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen’s brand The Row offers the ultimate in minimalist sophistication and tailoring, and their accessories are no exception. The Row’s ‘quiet luxury’ approach underpins everything from product design to their marketing, and they have amassed a cult following along the way as a result. This large black nylon tote represents everything we love about the label – understated but oh so cool.
Copenhagen-based ready-to-wear fashion brand GANNI is well known for its Scandi-style cool-girl style – feminine with a carefree and fun edge. Prairie-core dresses paired with chunky knitwear and boots feature regularly in their campaigns. This western influence was front and centre of GANNI’s accessories ranges, especially their footwear and bags. The decorative contrast stitching on smooth leather of this tote bag adds that GANNI-twist we’ve all come to love.
As a proud owner of an Aesther Ekme bag, I know first-hand how beautiful they are. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, but with a growing world-wide fan base, Aesther Ekme bags are about as minimalist as bags go. Using a neutral colour palette of cream, praline, oxblood and black these bags let their clean lines in smooth leathers do all the talking, with no embellishments whatsoever. If you want a tote bag that will go with absolutely everything, then Aesther Ekme should be your go-to.
Proenza Schouler White Label
If you fell in love with the Proenza Schouler tote bag at the top of our list but feel it’s a little out of reach budget wise, then look no further than PS’s younger sibling, Proenza Schouler White Label. Their Mercer Tote in smooth calf leather ticks all the boxes. It’s big enough to carry your laptop plus all the necessary cables, a water bottle, cosmetics bag, and there’s a cute pouch attached so your cardholder and keys don’t fall to the bottom of your bag.
If leather is not your bag (no pun intended) and you prefer carrying a vegan option, then this knit-style slimline tote by Marni is a perfect alternative. Lightweight and durable, this tote bag is dressy enough to take to a meeting but would work equally as well poolside acting as a chic carrier for all your summer accoutrements.
When you want to carry a sophisticated tote bag but can justify the big bucks, we recommend opting for a bag made of sturdy farbric such as canvas or nylon. They are easily cleaned and able to withstand all the knocks a bag can take. Madewell’s The Canvas Medium Transport Tote in a khaki green colourway is the perfect allrounder. This bag has plenty of pockets, with inrenal patch and zip pockets and a big patch pocket on the front for ease of access. The contrasting leather handles are a great length to hold the bag or carry on the arm, and the removable (and adjustable) shoulder strap gives you the opton to wear as a cross-body style. 10/10.
Trends may come and go, but Longchamp’s Le Pliage bag has stood the test of time. Oroginaylly designed in 1993, the iconic bag now comes in a wide range of styles, fabricatons and colour combinations. We love Longchamp’s Original Le Pliage Bag, with it’s coated nylon and leather accents. Big enough for a laptop and all your bits and pieces, when not in use, it’s clever design means you can neatly fold it and store it away. Genius!
There’s more than one reason why Madewell bags have made a couple of appearances on this list. Their designs are not only chic, they are also affordable. Think of them as your brand for elevated essentials. This leather tote in a classic colour of tan or black is no exception. Using the same clever design as The Canvas Medium Transport Tote, the Sydney Tote has top handles for carrying by hand as well as an adjustable shoulder strap. The style is ideal as a work bag, and eliminates the need to carry a separate laptop bag and handbag.
Rag & Bone
Rag & Bone’s British sophistication crossed with an the classicism of American sportswear design make for the perfect marriage. Think classic button-ups paired with indigo denim, or chunky woollen sweaters coupled with loafers with a twist, this is a brand that’s got longevity built into its DNA. Apart from creating clothes that people want and can wear, their range of accessories enhance what is already a fabulous brand. I love this supple suede tote in a rich tan colour that can easily be worn doubles as a statement bag, and could be a high-rotation bag no matter the season.
It’s no secret that handbag brand DeMellier is on the rise, and for very good reason. This mid-priced brand has been carried by the likes of celebrities like Emily Blunt and Beyonce, and members of the Royal Family such as Kate Middleton and Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle. But more importantly, it’s the philosophy behind the creatin of the brand that makes.
DeMellier’s bags are expertly crafted in factories in Spain and Italy, with philanthropy and sustainability at the core of everything they do. Their New York tote can be described as a classic modern piece that would look perfect draped on the arm, taking you from the office to dinner with absolute ease.
If cool is what you’re after, then the brand Kule is your answer. Describing themselves as a brand “…that makes classic clothes with a happy wink”, Kule takes classics like spots and stripes and injects a bit of cheekiness.
I love how they support the small, family-owned businesses they work with, which includes the 100-year old American factory that crafts their canvas totes. Kules beautifully made The O BOY Tote, is equal parts fun, versatile and stylish. And not to mention stylish too. What’s not to love about Kule.
If French luxury is what you’re after, but at a more affordable price-point than most luxury fashion houses, then Instagram’s darling of fashion Jacquemus will tick all of your boxes. Jacquemus’s playful take on the popular basket bag, a which has made a big comeback, is as paylful as it is classic. With hot pink leather detailing and Jacquemus’s signature gold branding, this summer-inspired tote bag will give you instant it-girl status. Looks may be important, but you can’t ignore practicality when it comes to tote bags. Sporting two different handle lengths, this tote allows you to can carry it by hand or sling it comfortably over the shoulder.
Retro-inspired luggage brand Paravel has tapped into an unmet market by creating high quality bags at an affordable price point. Not limiting themselves to just suitcases and carry-one luggage, Paravel make cosmetic bags, packing cubes, duffels and weekenders, as well as backpacks, handbags and totes. Made from their Ecocraft Canvas a durable, stain-repellent fabric made from 33 upcycled plastic bottles, this tote sports detailing of recycled vegan leather. And the durability doesn’t end there. The large compartment is lined in water-resistant material, and includes a zippered interior pocket plus two slip pockets.
Luxury leather goods company Métier makes timeless pieces with a purposeful design philosophy. Handmade in Italy, Métier bags are made to last forever. Butter soft leathers are paired with solid brass hardware to create pieces that are times but with a modern sensibility. Their totes are just as divine as the rest of their bags, like the Market Weekend Leather Tote. The twisted base is designed to sit comfortably against the body, and wide handles that attach from the corners to create the perfect. And the positives don’t stop there, with two concealed exterior zipper pockets, an interior pocket and detachable pouch when you don’t want have as much to carry.