Handbags? Hobos? Totes? These words ring any bells? It’s been awhile (more than a year, actually) since we’ve had anywhere to go that required a pretty handbag, but as coronavirus restrictions ease, we’re starting to dig bags out of the depths of our closets.
And while we’re looking forward to what we’re (optimistically) calling a semi-normal summer, one that — hopefully — can include pre-pandemic trappings like handbags-as-accessories, one of the things we love about this new normal is the increased focus on Black-owned businesses.
May 25th marks the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, and, as a result of the Black Lives Matter movement and the 15% pledge, we made a commitment, one year ago, to increase our coverage of Black-Owned businesses. Not only is this direction simply the right thing to do but…the products we’re finding have been really exciting, too.
Simply Stunning: The Top Black-Owned Handbags To Carry This Summer (& Where To Buy Them Online)
Additionally, we’re happy to see that some of our retail partners have also been expanding their Black-owned product offerings as well. The day I realized that AAKS, arguably one of THE most exciting things to happen to summer handbags (and a brand that has been hard to find in stock) is now being carried at Nordstrom? Well. Let’s just say there’s been a little ‘add to cart’ action on this end.
But ooooh man. This stuff is exciting. So move over, stained and overused cloth grocery bag that’s currently being smushed onto the passenger seat floor or stuffed in the cabinet next to the garbage. You’ve served us well, but we’ve got better things to sling over our shoulders in this day and age. Keep up.
Below are a handful (/shoulderful? eh…) of really pretty bags. We’re always leaning hard to the straw tote vibe come summer (Jane Birkin forever), but there are a few edgier picks, as well as some truly unique pieces you really won’t find anywhere else.
Cee Cee’s Closet / A A K S / Mateo / ZAAF / Spencer Badu / edas / Petit Kouraj / Savanna Baskets / Vavvoune / BruceGlen / KAYADUA/ Off-White / Haiti Design Co. / Telfar / Love, Cortnie / Roop / Jumz
To say we could stare at AAKS bags all day is an understatement. They’re woven handbags made by the women of Ghana in some seriously fun, bright color combinations. And the details on these bags are stunning. Truly unique, outfit-making bags.
Shana’s Pick: AAKS Mini Woven Clutch
Shana says: Soooo…if happiness was a purse, this would be IT. It’s small (a bit smaller than my Clare V Pot de Miel bag), but has an attached drawstring liner (in turquoise!) so your valuables never fall out…even if you are wildly swinging the bag as you skip.
Savanna Baskets has quickly become a favorite here at TME. Their bags and baskets are handmade by women in Ghana. Their main goal is to alleviate poverty by creating sustainable incomes while adopting environmentally safe practices. Linzi’s been using hers on the daily for almost a year now — they’re very well-made, and hold up over time.
Scotti’s Pick: Savanna Baskets Oval Vea
Scotti says: Aside from the fact that Savanna Baskets is on a “mission with a vision to create economic opportunities for economically marginalized, poor, and vulnerable rural women groups in Ghana,” (a great way to spend your money) the bags themselves are gorgeous. I love the beachy vibe of this tote…and I’m also coveting this fan for the summer!
Linzi’s Pick: Savanna Baskets Medium Beach Basket
Linzi says: I adore my Savanna basket bag. I use it in the summers as a “carry-all-the things” bag, as well as in the house to transport all the things up and down our stairs on a daily basis. It looks like my specific bag is no longer available, but this shorter squatter one, this striped one, and this simple classic look equally as fabulous.
Spencer Badu is a super-cool, streetwear-esque brand that pushes the gender norms with a curation of unisex, modern pieces that they like to call an “interpretation of the modern-day uniform.” They’ve only come out with one handbag so far, but it was too good not to include.
Amy’s Pick: Spencer Badu Nylon Shoulder Bag
Amy says: When it comes to bags, I always gravitate towards classic staples that can be worn with any outfit and will last for years to come. A shoulder strap is a must, making this bag from Spencer Badu the perfect go-to! I’m obsessed with the clear handle tote that peeks out the top to make it just a little different and edgy (but also, like, super practical?!). The tote snaps out, too, so you basically get two bags in one!
If you’re looking for a funky, unique bag…look no further than BruceGlen. Even if you’re someone that wears all black almost daily, these bags — with a statement pop of color or print — will still look right on point with an edgier vibe. They’re gorgeously crafted and some of the most interesting bags we’ve found.
Meredith’s Pick: BruceGlen Logo Mini Egg Metallic Leather Hobo Bag
Meredith says: This Logo Mini Egg Metallic Leather Hobo Bag is by Black-owned business, BruceGlen, which is run by two dynamic fashion designers. They’ve launched celebrity brands for Beyonce, so. This bag is eye-catching in its sportiness. It’s great if you’re not fully sold on the fanny pack, but still want a hands-free bag experience. Also, I’m still totally sold on metallics and this blue is perfection.
Looking around Love,Cortnie’s site was a real treat. Although these statement bags are perfect for a night out (as I sit here dreaming up all the outfits I’d wear out with each and every bag), they do have options that’d be perfect for elevating your daily bag. They’re practical, yes, but wayyyy more fun than the average bag. AND if you want a sweet anecdote of a grandmother and granddaughter, definitely check out how the brand started; it’s a quick (and sweet) read.
Laura’s Pick: Love, Cortnie Fringe Crossbody
Laura says: I can’t quit you, fringe. It’s the rocker chick in me. I adore this true statement bag and it looks super-soft and fun to wear, too. It comes in a rad yellow, white and a ton of other options, too. This brand has a bunch of cute handbags (I see you, zebra mini waist bag) and I’m so glad they’re on my radar now! Cortnie, a mom of two littles, accidentally started designing handbags in her grandmother’s kitchen a few years ago, and had a stint at first on Etsy, and now offers a ton of fab styles and colors on her own site. Love!
Oh, Telfar. I’m swooning over your gorgeous shopping bags. They’re the perfect, simple shapes — classic, sophisticated, chic — and come in small, medium and large. But seeing what new colors they’re going to release is the real excitement: Neons, metallics, neutrals — you name it, Telfar probably did it. They’re a hot commodity, so if you find one you like…move fast! And if you haven’t already read about the brand, their slogan alone makes them popular among so many people: It’s not for you, it’s for everyone. Love.
Kat’s Pick: Telfar Large Cream Shopping Bag
Kat says: Guys. I have been dreaming about getting my hands on this Telfar bag. The one I really want (in the gorgeous brown shade) is sold out, but they have a cream version coming soon. I highly recommend keeping your eye on this if you’ve also been trying to get a Telfar Shopping Bag for ages. They go quickly!
Haiti Design Co.
Haiti Design Co. may have gorgeous bags that you’d easily gravitate towards for daily life, but their story and mission is worth supporting. Not only is this brand considered slow fashion, but their goal is job training and stability to vulnerable communities in Haiti. You can check out their overall impact to see statistics like how many people are now covered by health insurance, how many children have been sent to school, success stories from the artisans and more.
Cam’s Pick: Haiti Design Co. Leather Scrunchie Bag
Cam says: According to the site description, “An ode to the ‘80s, The Leather Scrunchie Bag is for your modern self that secretly always wanted to rock a fanny pack with big hair and a scrunchie”. Yup. That’s exactly what drew me to it. I love the pale yellow with brown leather strap as a contrast. Meander over to their jewelry tab, as well (those mini beaded hoop earrings! S U M M E R all over).
Roop is a really interesting, environmentally conscious brand that’s known for their iconic satin bags. They partner with a different artist for every new collection, and these beauties are made in Manchester with vintage and remnant fabrics that are individually sourced by the owner. So, really…each bag is completely unique.
Top Pick: Roop Upcycled Furoshiki Satin Bag
Trying to decide between this gorgeous satin Navy bag and the shimmery navy bag was much more difficult than it probably should have been. These things are a party in a bag. Obsessed.
Edas has a small collection of leather bags in the most delicious (yes, delicious) range of colors. If you want a bright red, they’ve got it. If you want that dreamy chocolate brown color we coveted all of fall/winter…that’s there too. I also browsed the jewelry (and highly recommend you do the same). SO good.
Top Pick: edas Yshaia Mini Bag
The oversized buckle is what makes this bag really special. And while it does come in other colors…the crimson is especially gorgeous for summer: White tee, denim shorts, done.
All I have to say is…good luck deciding which Jumz bag you wanna add to your closet. There are so many interesting colors and patterns with options (beads??) for literally everyone. They partner with local artisans to create these gorgeous bags, keeping their impact on the community at the forefront of their mission. They’ve done amazing things for their local communities like donating $1 from all sales to the National Investments for Africa Scholarship Fund, a fund that provides the educational needs for 15 girls in Malawi. If you want to see even more about their impact, you can check it out on their website.
Danielle’s Top Pick: Jumz Zai Bag
Danielle says: Someone please stop me before I add all of the Jumz bags to my cart. It was a miracle I managed to pick just one. I think it was the orange stitching against that gorgeous blue that really sold me. But…I’m talking about the leather bags here. Don’t even get me started on the beaded bags. Summertime is calling, so I need to have a beaded bag in hand ASAP. Oh, the difficulty!
KAYADUA, a Ghanaian based slow-fashion brand, creates amazingly unique bags (often by hand) that are meant to last for generations to come. I can’t help but gravitate towards their stunning, bright colors but the neutrals are worth a peek, too.
Top Pick: KAYADUA Kaya Bag
We love how this one looks both handmade and vintage. In any case, it’ll be a totally unique piece to carry.
Mateo New York carries the type of bags I always imagined myself carrying as an adult — sophisticated, chic, and boss. Oddly enough, these bags manage to be both no-nonsense and playful. In fact, Mateo New York started as a men’s jewelry brand (the founder, Matthew Harris was born and raised in Montego Bay, Jamaica) before pivoting into women’s jewelry and handbags.
Top Pick: Mateo Black Croc Box Bag
Do you see what I mean? This is a serious boss bag for someone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously.
Brooklyn-based Petit Kouraj has the dreamiest, most whimsical bags you’ll ever lay your eyes on. They’re handmade in Haiti, using responsibly sourced materials. They also partner with D.O.T Haiti — a women-led organization that works with their artisans to provide opportunity, education and training. The name Petit Kouraj means ‘little courage’ in Hatian Creole.
Top Pick: Petit Kouraj Mini Fringe Bag
This insanely gorgeous fringe bag Is the kind of bag that makes an outfit. (Oh help…there’s a colorful one, too. You can also see the whole line, here.)
ZAAF was founded in 2014 by Abai Schulze. The brand is based in Ethiopia, and partner with skilled artisans across Africa to develop their luxury goods. The founder is a native of Ethiopia — she spent time in an orphanage in Addis Ababa — who has since graduated from George Washington University. ZAAF has been spotted on the runway in NYFW shows, and been featured in Vogue. (And now, The Mom Edit — I kid, I kid.)
Top Pick: ZAAF Burana Tote
Love how this bag looks both sporty, yet very, very lux. Gives off all the best ‘nonchalantly chic’ vibes.
Cee Cee’s Closet
Cee Cee’s closet is a NYC-based boutique specializing in headwraps and soft accessories. The two sisters behind the brand source their vibrant fabrics in Nigeria, and the products are also made by tailors in Nigeria. Happily, they’re now expanding into a line of totes that are both hugely practical and seriously stunning. (Peek inside one for a treat — they use bright headwrap fabric to line the interior of each bag.)
Top Pick: Cee Cee’s Closet Audrena Luru Tote Bag
There’s a black-and-white version that’s also stunning, but we’re eyeing up the fun little pops of color in this one.
VAVVOUNE (pronounced vav•une) is based in Brooklyn, New York, and all bags are made in NYC’s Garment District. Any leather remnants that they’re unable to use are collected and donated to art programs in the city.
We love their subtle twists on classic shapes.
Top Pick: Vavvoune Mishe Bag
This bag comes in several colors, but the lavender gives off unexpectedly fresh vibes, especially with the gold hardware. Love that it feels like the bag is wearing jewelry. This bag comes with a crossbody strap, too.
Off White pieces are pricy…but SO freaking cool. They’re like the next generation of heirloom pieces…for people who hate heirloom pieces. The designer/founder, Virgil Abloh DJs on the side and once described this line as “one big art project“. Here for it.
Top Pick: Off-White Jitney 0.7 Crossbody Bag
Loving the irreverency of the graffiti scrawl on an otherwise very classic, sophisticated bag.
Thanks for reading, Gang! And be sure to check out our Black-Owned Business Directory for some seriously good small brands that are absolutely SHINING, or shop more of our Black-owned business posts here. Oh, and let us know if we missed one of your favs in the comments below.
Xo, Team TME
Adore this article, so much so that I just ordered the ZAAF Burana tote in Blue and Vintage brown. Thank you for finding such lovely and unique options. TME is one of my favorite sources for shopping advice. You are all fab!