As purses and handbags came into use in the everyday wardrobes, different names began to crop up to describe their styles and use.
Look for them in the softest leather to Patten leather in hues of bronzes, platinum or gold.
Tote – is a larger bag usually with two handles. It’s usually in a durable fabric or leather because it’s a daytime, everyday style bag. Some totes in the past have been made in straw, hemp, or macramé. Totes vary in sizes and may have outside compartments as well as inner pockets.
Pocketbook – is similar to a purse in the British sense of the word. It’s a woman’s wallet that does not fold over as a man’s, but often is compartmentalized into a section for coins, a section for currency and sections for cards, pictures or checks. At times it can be carried separately like a clutch, but often times are concealed in a tote.
Satchel – is a large bag with a small handle that’s meant to be carried on the forearm instead of a shoulder. Many think of the satchel as made of straw or canvas and sold near beaches or tropical ports of call.
Duffle – (duffel) is a very large bag used to haul sports equipment or short stay traveling. It’s usually made of canvas or a waterproof polyester, vinyl, etc. It most often has two short woven straps and is zippered or Velcro sealed.
They’ve never gone out of style because they offer large storage space and the convenient shoulder strap leave the hands free to do other tasks.
Fanny Pack – (hip pack, tummy pack) has recently become popular in the handbag world for the athlete or weekend jogger to carry essentials around their middle. It’s less cumbersome and is now used by new mothers and grandmothers as well.
Murse – (manbag) Off and on in the fashion trends, a “purse” for men tries to make a showing. Smaller than a backpack, it more resembles a messenger bag and is usually in fine leather. Hey, after all the junk of theirs we’ve had to carry in our bags,
I say go for it, guys. Coach has long had a line for men from smaller leather bags to ones for laptops. If you think about it, the purse was originally designed only for you men and not for the women in your life until say, 400 years or so ago.
In American English, a purse is a small handbag or a pocketbook.
In British English, a purse is a small money container similar to a wallet. Women typically use it as a man uses a wallet. It contains compartments for coins and is known as a “coin purse”. You have seen them at one time or another. They are usually made of a sturdy material such as leather, vinyl or heavy cloth and have a clasp on the top. Often times, it’s an accessory and their material matches the larger handbag.
If used interchangeably, the modern definition of the purse or handbag is something often fashionably designed, typically used by a woman, and is used to hold items such as her wallet, keys, tissues, make-up, hairbrush, cell phones, and other necessities she will need throughout the day or evening.
So there it is, the correct terminology depends on which side of the pond you’re on. Call your purse a purse or handbag because it means the same thing.
When Mario Prada founded Prada in 1913, it quickly became renowned for its waterproof handbags and shoes. When his granddaughter, Miuccia Prada took over the family business in 1978, she created waterproof handbags out of a material called pocone. Today, the bags made out of this material are still known as the epitome of the classic Prada bag.
Prada does not usually adorn their bags with bright, flashy colors and patterns. They are elegant in their sleek, simple lined style of sophistication. They are classic and durable, but of course, pricey.
Guccio Gucci first produced handbags in 1921 in Florence, Italy. They were originally equestrian inspired. One of his most famous bags was known as the “Bamboo Bag” and was produced during the 1940’s when, due to the war efforts in Europe, materials traditionally used to make handbags became scarce. The Gucci trademark is distinguishable by the green-red-green web derived from a saddle girth.
Later creations can also bear an interlocking double “G”. Because she was seen often sporting a Gucci bag with her pillbox hat, Jackie Kennedy Onassis became the unofficial spokeswoman for Gucci bags in the 1960’s. Her favorite style was nicknamed the “Jackie O”.
Kate Spade is the new kid on the block, so to speak, and one of the few Americans to make it in the top design house world. She was an Accessories Editor, so she was well acquainted with the fashion world. Combined with her boyfriend’s talent, they launched their own line of handbags in 1993 and took the industry in a whole new direction.
Just three years later, in 1996, the Council of Fashion Designers honored her with being America’s best new fashion accessories designer. Her company was started through collaborations with a few old friends that she knew were savvy as well. Her first shop opened on Thompson Street in New York City and quickly became too small, so she re-located. The next ten years she opened shops in Greenwich, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
In 1998 her company branched out into personal organizers, address books and journals.
Her empire keeps on growing with a carefully monitored Internet store that thwarts the fakes from getting into the market place. Her stunning use of color and design sets her apart as does her use of unorthodox materials such as elephant and ostrich leathers.
Louis Vuitton is a name many in the fashion world associate with high quality handbags, though the design house also fashions shoes and other accessories. The first shop opened in 1854 in Paris. His luggage (remember handbags were like luggage in that era) became so popular that by 1860 he relocated to Asnieres. In 1885, the company expanded once again into London. The popularity of his craftsmanship soon became world renown.
In 1888, he came out with what’s now considered one of his signature patterns even over 100 years later, namely the Damier Pattern. It’s characterized as a checkerboard of light and dark brown boxes. His Monogram Canvas is one of the most popular styles still sold today. He never rested on his laurels. His legacy now includes 12 classic patterns. In 1924, he added the Kepall to his line and in 1932, he introduced the Noe Handbag. Unfortunately, but to be expected, his designs are the most replicated by counterfeiters worldwide. For that reason, you’ll almost never see Louis Vuitton handbags wholesaled. Replicated “inspired” bags are commonplace in kiosks throughout American Malls.
As I said earlier coach is another designer name you’ll see a lot at a designer purse party is Coach. Let’s take a look at how they got started.
The Coach line of purses and handbags is another of the few American designers to reach the status of high-end fashion world. Coach’s meager beginnings in the 1940’s were launched in Manhattan by six artisans in fine leather goods. Their hand skilled methods of working with subtle leather were passed down through the generations to today. Believe it or not, the handbag lines developed from one of the craftsman examining baseball gloves. He liked the way the leather softened as it aged, and that inspired him to perfect the technique.
Even today, the classic tan leather is associated with the Coach product line.
The Coach signature is almost exclusively in the craftsmanship of fine leathers. They have leather finishes, grains and colours that can only be found in their products.
The two interlocking “C”s in a mirrored image back to back can only mean CoCo Chanel. Mostly famous for her perfumes in the 1920’s,
Gabrielle CoCo Chanel also branched into a more relaxed look of fashion highlighted by the Roaring Twenties shocking deviation from traditional women’s fashions. She first opened her shop in France in 1912 and in the United States in New Jersey within a decade. Even though the Chanel line didn’t originally include handbags, which is what the company is best known for today, as well as its enduring perfumes. But it was not until after the founder’s death in 1971 that the handbag line really took off and became internationally coveted when the handbag designs were outsourced to a man named Karl Lagerfeld.
He was the one who developed the famous trademarked double “C”s. His handbag styles became the “in” thing for Hollywood celebs in the 1980’s and continues to be a status symbol among actresses and stars. Celebrities such as Christina Aguilera and Brittany Spears are known to have Chanel bags dangling from their arms.
A married couple, Eodardo and Adele Fendi in a small Italian town known as Del Plebiscito, established the Fendi Design House. Because of the high standards of their furs and leather goods, the couple’s fashions soon became noticed.
In 1960, they initiated their couture line designed by Karl Lagerfeld – yep, the same one who was hired by Chanel later on.
With their introduction to the United States, and specifically Hollywood, the popularity of the Fendi bag skyrocketed as an essential “must have.” The stealthily designed F into the patterns of the bags is a classic signature. Today, the company has branched into ties, belts, gloves, hats and even jeans.
It didn’t take long before every elite Parisian lady wanted one in her closet. And, of course, with the gown came the evening bag. After WWII, his innovative sense of style ushered in a more utilitarian flair but in the new brighter colors of the modern age. The look quickly caught on in the United States during the affluent 1950’s. His company expanded into fashion accessories for the everyday woman (rich of course), including handbags.
The founder died in 1972, but his family continues to honor his unique sense of style today in their leather handbags as well as the glamorous gowns.
* Many of the histories were compiled courtesy of designer fashion trends.com
There are many lesser-known designers who are trying to break into the design arena. The designer handbag is growing in popularity, not diminishing. The Internet has been able to make back room, one-shop designers known worldwide and as their trends catch on, they too, may one day be considered high-end.
Of course, with the Internet go scam artists, black market fakes and people who claim they can sell you designer bags at half the price at designer purse parties.