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Italian Handbag Trends

What defines a luxury handbag has changed in the past year — from exotic bags loaded with expensive hardware, charms, buckles and other ornaments to more timeless and elegant handbags that make a statement without making its owner look like a show-off.


On a recent trip to Italy, I was surprised to find the boutiques filled with more subdued designer handbags. While still remarkable in quality, the bags that lined the windows of Prada, Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci lacked extensive ornamentation or the daring patterns these designers are known for. Instead they offered solid leather handbags in a variety of colors, including red and yellow. Styles ranged from hobo bags to structured handbags in all sizes—oversized to clutch. On past trips to Italy, I’ve noticed that not many Italian women carry clutches but I saw a few stores carrying them on this last visit—mostly long, flat and oversized.


Weaved satchel, totes and bucket bags are hot this season—with black and brown leather purses and handbags being the choicest options. Women in Italy get a lot of use of their handbags; they take them from day to evening for all types of activities, so the bags they choose are of the highest quality.


If status is important, insignia handbags are still popular. Everywhere you go in Italy, you’ll see women with Louis Vuitton handbags or Dolce & Gabbana leather shoulder bags. If you don’t want to pay top dollar—and with the exchange rate you’ll pay nearly double than you would in the States—you can pick up a knock-off sold on the streets of major cities like Rome and Milan. If you go this route, never pay what the vendors ask. They will drop their prices considerably if you haggle.


But you don’t have to go faux to get a great leather handbag. When shopping for a handbag that will last, you can go with a top designer label or follow the Italians’ example and base your decision on the quality of the materials used and design aesthetics. You can walk into a dozen shops in Rome, Florence and Milan and find unique, handcrafted bags that will last a lifetime but cost a third of the price of a premium designer handbag. Look for leather goods shops and boutiques that sell clothes and accessories.


If you do have money to spend but don’t want to be too flashy—you can easily find a designer handbag in every color of the rainbow and in every size conceivable. Or, instead of spending a lot on clothes, create multiple looks just by changing your handbag.


Amy Covington for BELISI


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    Great blog post and completely agree. I wish more people would give other Italian bag designers a chance other than the "big names." If they did, I would carry them.

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