High-end bags are not limited to a few very well-known names. Unless, of course, you regard high-end handbags as status symbols indicating that you “have arrived”, as Samantha from “Sex and the City” famously said. You may or may not remember, but the episode with the uber-exclusive bag actually backfired for her. Still, what do we mean when we refer to a bag as “high-end“?
What’s the Deal with High-End Bags?
What qualifies a handbag as “high-end“? To me, it represents the degree of creativity that was put into the design, both in terms of style and function, plus excellent materials and equally excellent craftsmanship. Beauty and quality, in other words. The price is also part of the equation – but here the range is much wider than many people think. You may be surprised to find out that you can become an owner of a high-end handbag without spending thousands of dollars on it.
The following is a high-end bags edit courtesy of some of my favorite Spanish leather accessories brands. I started out with quite a large number, but only seven (a lucky number) made the final cut. Of course, my choice was guided by my own taste. The selection is only a sampling of what these brands have to offer. The information for further exploring is there. As usual, all bags are designed and made in Spain.
Totes and Shoppers
These are the most practical bags, large, with a lot of compartments. They are supposed to hang comfortably from the shoulder. You always feel a tote or a shopper on your side. It’s almost like armour. As a fashion statement, of course, they are impossible to miss.
This sharp-looking bag (currently 50% off on the Paloma Barceló website) is proof that Paloma Barceló did the right thing by entering the luxury handbags game. “Torino” is absolutely exquisite with its black deerskin, double handles, and great functionality. I love the oversized front flap with snap fastening. This bag has the best Spanish design has to offer: leather craftsmanship, stylish restraint, ease of use. It is expensive, of course, but much less so than some other designer bags out there.
The woven leather technique signals a Mallorcan/Menorcan artisanal influence. The beautiful tone of the leather exudes Mediterranean warmth. The shiny kidskin leather is gorgeous and light. Still, the “Nilda” shopper is sturdy enough to be your everyday bag. The style is less formal, less business-like than that of the “Torino” bag above. Ultimately, whether you go for the one or for the other depends on your taste, lifestyle, and budget. The “Nilda” tote costs half that of Paloma Barceló‘s “Torino“.
When fully opened, the “Genara” suede shopper from Malababa’s artisan leather workshop reminds me of a stingray. The leather craftsmanship is remarkable. Plus, the corners conveniently fold in, reducing the 52 cm (20 1/2 “) span of the “stingray” into something a bit more manageable. As artisanal products, Malababa bags are crafted individually, in relatively small numbers. The “Genara” bag in taupe was on sale at the time of the writing. The tan version is also available, at the full price of 310 Euros.
Petusco bags are known for their signature horse logo embossed leather, roomy construction, and beautiful detailing. As someone who owns several handbags by this brand (albeit from older collections), I can attest to their outstanding aesthetic appeal and quality. They are a pleasure to hold and can withstand a lot of wear and tear. I get a lot of compliments because of them. The lining is really good too: it has satin-like feel and sheen and it is imprinted with the same horse logo pattern. Consistency all throughout! As far as the price is concerned, Petusco bags are a great value. A girl can scarcely own too many bags by this brand.
Hobo and Cross Body Bags
These bags are much more relaxed in style, range in size from small to large and always have a long strap that frees up the arms. They are usually very comfy in use and great for roaming around.
The “Hermenegilda” bag is probably named after some late antique princess – very romantic. The weave pattern is quite striking (at least to me) and the leather tone is interesting. The only downside is that the color may rub off when in contact with your skin or clothes. This is definitely an inconvenience, but not a dangerous one: Malababa uses only environmentally friendly, non-toxic dyes. The price is right, considering the originality of design, the level of craftsmanship, and the quality of materials.
Castañer is one of my favorite brands and I already own a bag by them, a shopper of luxurious hunter green leather. It attracts a lot of attention everywhere I go. The “Vega” messenger-style bag has a harmonious shape, pleasantly rounded on the top. As with all Castañer leather bags, the leather is very high grade – smooth, with a light sheen. Besides the split-leather inner bag, the little, but important luxuries include gold-colored metallic detailing on the body strap and the leather drawstrings of the inner bag. The inner bag is a great idea as a stylish and practical way to protect your valuables from wear and tear. I also love the color: a vibrant navy with a hint of purple. It is currently on sale for a steal: 98 Euros, down from 195. Castañer is known to have very good sales.
Beatriz Furest uses the finest quality leathers for its bags: the messenger-style bag on the picture is made from lambskin, which is very soft and shiny. Good leather is not only felt – it is also seen. The color palette is gutsy: ebony black body, reddish brown strap, and mustard yellow trim. It gives the bag a unique look. Roomy and light, this bag is also very reasonably priced, at least as far as high-end bags are concerned.
The focus of this high-end bags edit was universality and practicality. That is why there are no clutches or other specialty bags. These handbags are designed to serve a woman all day every day if need be. Each handbag was made of well-finished quality Spanish leather by skilled Spanish artisans. Each is extremely well designed and bears a unique creative stamp of its brand.
Personally, I love all these bags, but, if I were to choose, I would probably go for the “Torino” by Paloma Barceló. Then again, I may choose the “Rebecca” by Petusco or the “Vega” by Castañer (I’m obsessed with that brand). It all depends on my mood and on the kind of money I would have to spend. However, despite differences in price, I consider each of these bags “high-end”. Being products of medium and small size leather workshops, they are not manufactured in huge batches. This means that the collections tend to go fast and that not too many people end up owning the exact same bag. All the more exclusive, all the more high-end, if you ask me.