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Evolution of Handbags by Decade

by Amelie Smith
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The evolution of handbags has been phenomenal. From Chanel two.55 to Hermès Birkin and Lady Dior, hop on the style train to locate out the history behind every single iconic bag and know how they have changed by means of the decades.

handbag-trends-spring-summer-evolution of handbags

Purses, clutches, totes, baguettes… Handbags are really the most applied accessory considering that the early instances. It is not just a style statement but also a symbol of class and energy. Here’s a glance at how the sac à major has evolved with time.

What Led to the Evolution of Handbags?

The history of handbags dates back to as early as the 16th century. Even so, folks began applying it as an accessory in the 1900s. The very first-ever bag made was applied to retailer coins. It was regarded as a status symbol and was applied only by the elites. Surprisingly, males have been the very first to sport a purse. Even so, the introduction of pockets in the men’s garments gave birth to larger-sized bags, messenger bags (travel bags) which have been then applied to retailer bulkier necessities. And now we get to see a lot far more assortment.

This piece of accessory has really undergone a commendable alter. Study on to locate out what was trending in every single decade.

The 1920s: Flapper Girl Aesthetics: Glitter n Glam!

This decade is certainly a lot back in history but does that make its style irrelevant? Nope. Bags in the 20s have been not just actually a sack to be carried about. They had develop into so significantly far more than that. Most girls have been nonetheless housewives and did not require significantly to carry about. They ordinarily carried compact and fancy bags to unique events like weddings and dates. The style business in the 1920s was dominated by glitter, shimmer, and sparkle. And so have been the bags.


Mesh purses have been preferred. They have been tiny in size with shell and fan silhouettes. The metallic tones and heavy embroidery (beaded sequins or pearls) of the clutches produced them not just an arm candy but also an eye candy. Two sorts of handles have been repeated: circular or semi-circular metal handles and extended thin chains.

The era also saw the emergence of designer bags. The most popular 1 was made by Coco Chanel in 1929, which came with straps. Straps have been not popular back then so the bag got all the focus it deserved.

The 1930s: The Golden Age of Hollywood

Handbags had began to develop into a popular accessory in the preceding decade. Evening bags (now named clutches) have been born as a outcome of old Hollywood glamour to go along with the lovely evening gowns. Naturally, no 1 would like to carry a bag on their shoulders when wearing a gown so the spot of the bags was restricted to the hands of girls. Black, white and tan have been the classic hues. Lighter colors have been avoided. The broadly applied supplies have been leather, crochet, and animal skin.


The bags have been tiny and had neat, basic silhouettes. This was since bags have been noticed as masculine earlier and now they had to evolve into one thing distinctive. Most clutches have been customized to match with the gloves or the outfits. By the finish of the decade, handles have been introduced to no cost the hands and swing the bag about. The classic Louis Vuitton bags (Keepall and Speedy) have been produced offered to the basic public. The 30s have been an exemplary addition to the evolution of handbags.

The 1940s: The War Years

The theme of 1940s style was military. Globe War II had certainly taken a toll on style. Style homes have been closed and there was a scarcity in the fabrics and supplies offered for the building of clothes. Even so, the evolution of handbags did not come to a halt. It was then that a lot of manmade fabrics have been launched. Females also started to discover their inventive side and came up with lovely crochet and knitted bags.


Due to much less availability of supplies to be experimental for producing handbags, practicality took precedence. Females moved on from fancy to necessity. The major concentrate was on longevity. As males have been away fighting at wars, significant leather bags with extended handles have been produced to carry about all the necessary products. In addition to that, envelope bags and scallop bags have been the prominent types.

The 1950s: Oh! So Sophisticated

Grace Kelly? Audrey Hepburn? Elizabeth Taylor? Do these names remind you of one thing? Elegance! The 50s was the era of thrilling classic timeless style. Uncommon bag shapes replaced the traditional ones. Hexagonal bags gained recognition and logos started to seem to denote luxury brands. Scarves have been tied on the handles to uplift their appear. Bags lacked embellishments and came mainly in strong colors. The post-war period saw a increase in the economy, which led to folks navigating the luxury industry.


The very first It-bags have been made, namely the Chanel two.55 and Hermès Kelly. Chanel two.55 was the new version of the bag that Coco Chanel made in 1929 and Hermès Kelly was the bag applied by Grace Kelly to hide her pregnancy from the paparazzi.

Briefcase-like handbags have been also in trend. It was a sort of style rule to have a bag that matches with the gloves and hats or the belts and sandals. Even so, this trend died quickly. Small black purses became a style statement. Synthetic and more affordable supplies have been applied rather of animal skin to make handbags a far more reasonably priced accessory for the masses.

The 1960s: The Energy of Femininity

Ah! Two words sum up the 1960s: innovation and diversity. Persons appreciated bags with tiny handles, reptile skins, and prints have been appreciated. Handbags became a show of energy and status. The fashionistas went gaga more than the evolution of handbags. The rise of the youth culture led to experimentation with distinctive types of appears that worked effectively with feminine character sorts. The box-shaped Louis Vuitton satchel, produced up of canvas and leather, was launched. The luxurious luggage bag was normally snapped with celebrities as a component of their airport appear.


Geometrical, African, and tie-dye patterns became the new obsession. Persons embraced new supplies like satin, vinyl, and brocade. 1 of the most prominent bags of the 60s was the Gucci Jackie bag, named following Jackie Kennedy, which bore the shape of a crescent moon but was slightly wider. It came with two straps and had a piston closure. André Courrèges’ “Space Age” themed bag was an ultra-modern day addition to this era.

The 1970s: The Laid-back Bohemian Era

The hippie culture became incredibly preferred in this decade, in which folks rejected the mainstream life style and adopted no cost-spirited methods. 1970s style was all about the hippie vibes and imbibed inventive awakening amongst all. Consequently, the handbags of this decade had a boho aesthetic. Style now had to be sensible considering that hippies moved about a lot. Tote bags with floral prints and cross-physique bags with extended chains or straps have been a hit. Lots of pockets and zips have been also normally spotted.


And now that we are discussing the evolution of handbags, it is not possible to not mention the French style icon Jane Birkin who introduced the broadly popular straw basket bag. It was such an effortless way to upgrade anyone’s style and it sparked the creation of the signature Hermès Birkin bag that we see currently. This impacted the evolution of handbags the most. Enjoyable reality: It was in fact applied as a grocery and diaper bag owing to its significant size.

On the contrary, we also saw the very first look of Queen Elizabeth II’s favourite classy Launer bags. The black leather bag has a basic square silhouette and came with tiny handles. The brand became a preferred selection amongst aristocratic girls like the former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

The 1980s: Higher Style &amp Pop Culture

I think about the 1980s as the most trendy decade in history since every person went gaga with their style. From loud colors and prints to puffed shoulders and bold possibilities of fabrics, anything was more than the leading. And so was the evolution of handbags. It was all about maximalism.


Ta-da! Right here comes the most popular bag ever – the iconic Birkin bag, named following actress Jane Birkin. It was just a matter of possibility that Jane met the Birkin designer in flight exactly where she complained that no bag was significant sufficient to match all her necessities. The French luxury brand Hermès then fully revolutionized the evolution of handbags.

The original Birkin was a black leather tote bag. What tends to make it additional unique and worth the income is that every single bag is entirely handmade. It turned into a status symbol quickly, and even now has a extended waiting list owing to its rarity. It can also be customized with diamonds and the material of your selection. Apart from Birkin, bags with flashy colors and prints have been admired.

The 1990s: Anything Minimalistic

This was the time when folks have been exploring their minimalist side. Therefore, the handbags evolved with this and decreased in size. Fancy evening clutches came to the limelight. Not to neglect how Princess Diana smartly applied it to cover her cleavage when obtaining out of the auto. This popularized the clutches as cleavage bags. These have been normally produced up of silk and came in distinctive lengths.

Lady Diana also brought the fashionable people’s focus to a quilted leather bag by Christian Dior. It was later named the Lady Dior bag in honor of the princess and really symbolized royalty. The story about the evolution of handbags would in no way be full without the need of the mention of this bag.


Named following the French bread, an additional compact shoulder bag that was also a craze in the 1990s was the Baguette bag. It was made by Fendi and featured quick straps, representing French girls carrying the loaf of bread below their arms. It was offered in a lot of distinctive textures and patterns and was featured in Sex and the City.

Additionally, Cher Horowitz from Clueless produced mini backpacks and Rachel Green from Close friends produced LV go trendy. Females did not require significantly to carry in their handbags as they have been venturing out into the globe of non-regular careers, like PR, style purchasers, and far more.

The 2000s: Dressed to Chill

Persons now began moving on from bold style trends to calmer versions. Casual and sportswear have been spotted on every person. Handbags naturally had to mimic the style trends as a result they grew in size and weight. Mini bags went out of sight and massive bags became a cult favourite. Also, girls have been tired of the so-named feminine bags and wanted to show off their edgy tomboyish side.


Kate Moss publicized the casual Balenciaga Motorcycle bag, which is now identified as the Classic City bag. It didn’t have the most flattering silhouette and I would not think about it as a visually attractive 1 either. The leather tends to make it appear slouchier. Other terrific hits include things like the Dior’s Saddle and Gucci striped briefcase bags. These stood out as the It-girl bags and had a extended waiting list for the ladies to get their hands on 1.

Also, who does not admire Blair Waldorf and Serena Van der Woodsen from Gossip Girl? The American Television show had a critical influence on the style trends of the late 2000s. Even though Serena sported modern types like slouchy flap bags and totes, Blair had a classic sophisticated taste with structured shoulder bags, mini bags, and feminine types. Bags have been nonetheless connected with one’s social status and so we saw a lot of versions of Chanel flap bags and Lady Diors on the show.

The 2010s: Cool Shapes? Say No Much more!

This decade reminds me of the exclusive silhouettes that designers came up with, from bucket to a watermelon slice to slim U-shaped bags. This period focused far more on building style statements than practicality, which is also reflected in the style trends of the 2010s. We also saw the rise of denim bags and exotic prints. The most versatile 1 was the bag with side handles which was a exclusive innovation.

An additional fresh trend was the dual straps bag. The most popular style was the mixture of a belt strap and a chain strap. Thereby providing you the choice to flaunt each and simply alter your appear as necessary. Females now wanted to use bags as just a piece of an accessory that could go effectively with their outfits.


The mobile phones became the most carried products for girls and males alike, which led to the creation of telephone-purses and micro-bags. Also, the rise of social media, specially Instagram, in the late 2010s, gave rise to loud and “extra” style trends, which folks wore specifically for gaining recognition amongst their followers. So each celebs and frequent girls preferred novelty bags, heavy embellishments and exclusive supplies. Chanel launched the iconic No five bag, shaped like a bottle of the perfume. Dolce &amp Gabbana’s Spring 2016 and 2017 collections featured bags shaped like drums, cameras, and far more.

In 2018, Kim Kardashian’s ‘Laptop-Charger’ bag became a fest of memes. The mini black bag resembled a Chromebook charger and the manage was certainly inspired by the charger’s wire. But it was certainly a moment to be inked in the history of the evolution of handbags.

The 2020s: Experimenting is Crucial!

Style has evolved so significantly with time and we have grown to be far more accepting than ever about everyone’s exclusive style tastes. The craze of customized bags is peaking. Filipina celebrity artist Like Marie Escudero has popularly hand-painted a lot of Hermès bags and luxury brands like Gucci and Fendi now have DIY bags.


Studded and fluffy pillow bags have been also featured on the runway by numerous designer brands. The need for a luxurious appear is nonetheless incredibly significantly on-trend. Some labels are also seeking forward to advertising sustainability by applying eco-friendly fabrics to pique the interest of trendy atmosphere lovers. New brands like Bottletop use upcycled supplies like straw, discarded products (bottle tops in this case). The Macrame bag by Chloé, the Re-Nylon collection by Prada, mushroom leather bags by Stella McCartney are a couple of other examples.

Now that phones are the only necessity you require to be going out with, telephone bags are becoming increasingly popular. With style becoming far more fluid, bags are not gender-particular any longer. The 2020s are going to be the decade to virtually treat style as your canvas and use it to showcase not only your inner talents but also leave a social effect.

The Future of Bags

Handbags have truly come a extended way considering that the early 20th century. Even so, 1 factor remains the similar – handbags nonetheless express the wearer’s individuality and there’s no limit to the types we will require.

This was our listing on the evolution of handbags that folks have witnessed more than the period of time. Anyway, we have nonetheless got to see what bag types would pop up in the future. Which decade’s style did you like the ideal? Share your thoughts with us in the comments beneath or by tweeting us @shilpa1ahuja.

Study subsequent:– Style Evolution By means of Decades: 1920s – 2020s Trends– Bag Trends For 2022 | ten Ought to Have Arm Candies

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