Handbag Trends For Spring
Text by Kathryn Brooks and Fiona Clarke

After careful review of the Spring/Summer 2021 designer runway shows, we cast a spotlight on ten mega fashion houses that share their take on the newest, hottest, must-have handbags of the season.

From New York to Paris, fashion brands played it safe by reworking best bags: Burberry introduced a new Pocket Bag, Matthew Williams tweaked the Givenchy Antigona bag to fit his industrial-chic aesthetic, and Dior had various styles of the Dior Book Tote and Lady D-Lite for fans to add to their collection.

This season, there was also a play in size. Some designers went big, like Valentino and Khaite, presenting larger-than-life handbags to tote around. You could fit Chanel’s entire range of tiny, charm-sized bags in one of those. Creative director Virginie Viard had scaled down Maison’s iconic quilted purses to hang from belts and chain necklaces, opting for playfulness, not practicality.

One major bag trend that straddled both was the woven bag, spotted at Loewe, Fendi, Dior, among others. There were structured baskets, which we’ve been seeing for a while now, as well as more relaxed, netted bag styles that recalled the shopping bags you would find at a farmer’s market. These are a little more luxe, of course, offered in woven leather options like at Valentino, or embellished with crystals as seen at Burberry.


As the sold-out designs at Burberry’s Animal Kingdom Showcase tell us, the popularity of the Pocket Bag shows no sign of waning. Good thing that creative director Riccardo Tisci has decided to offer the British brand’s archival bag for yet another season, this time in sandy Burberry beige, a neutral hue that will go with everything.


Creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli has taken a signature house code, the Valentino Rockstud, and supersized it. The result is the Roman Stud, which has birthed a new line of shoulder bags carried by leather handles or chains, as well as a really, really big tote. “I love the fact that you can re-signify your past without being too nostalgic,” said Piccioli.


Louis Vuitton unveiled the Coussin bag, a soft, quilted leather tote is embossed with its monogram and features chunky chains in gold and silver. It is available in a futuristic silver style, as well as a subtle cream one.


Dior has given its Dior Book Tote new life in the form of a leather version. There was an emphasis on craftsmanship this season, as seen in the intricate floral pattern that is both embossed and laser-cut on the bag’s leather façade. The romantic design is toughened by the rows of metal studs that line the bag, making for a very sturdy travel bag.


Creative director Virginie Viard injected a dose of fun in Chanel’s bags this season, offering styles that are tiny, pretty and often embellished with pearls. A standout design was the new take on Chanel’s classic leather flap bag, presented in a vibrant shade of pink.


Does the fashion brand behind the world’s most coveted bag need to introduce a new one? Not really, but Hermès did it anyway with the Perspective Cavalière shoulder bag, an asymmetric design that appears flat. The everyday style will be offered in two sizes and various colors like red, black and brown.


The idea of the Prada backpack has remained the same since Miuccia Prada introduced it in 1984: it’s black, made of nylon, and devoid of any ornamentation except for the brand’s tiny triangle logo. Raf Simons, Prada’s new co-creative director, has changed by introducing a white version, lined with leather handles and printed with cryptic graphics courtesy of his longtime artist collaborator, Peter De Potter. The streetwear crowd is probably going to eat this up.


Givenchy’s new creative director, Matthew Williams, has introduced hardware details like locks and chains to the French brand’s signature Antigona bags — both the oversized leather totes and the smaller version, whose handles have been elongated. For the latter, the version in reflective gold croc leather, clasped with a Givenchy logo lock, is sure to be a signature for the brand.


Fendi’s spring show centered on lightness, which is why several of the bags, including the Peekaboo, were layered with romantic, embroidered silk veils. But it’s a sheer Baguette bag that stole the show: it was made with delicate, tombolo aquilano sugar-coated lace by artisans in Abruzzo, using a lace weaving technique from the 15th century. While featherweight, the dreamy design is heavy on craftsmanship skills, making it a prize for serious bag collectors.


Loewe did the opposite of what Dior did: It took a beloved leather bag and made it soft. This season, creative director Jonathan Anderson has given the Ondas Flamenco Clutch a plush touch by crafting it out of pastel suede. The result is an alluring bag to rival all the other pillow-like ones that are already being offered.