Celebs and fashion influencers alike have flaunted their sensational retro 90s handbags the past few years like they were brand new acquisitions. Louis Vuitton, Prada, Hermes, Dior; the-return-of-the-mini-handbags trend from the 90s does not seem to be fading out anytime soon. The telltale mini handbags are about the size of a clutch or maybe a little bigger, but the feature that stands out from the crowd is that short strap that hoists the handbag right under the armpit, where it is tucked, safe and sound, from potential pickpockets (and also conveniently locates it for photo opportunities).
Kelly Brook was spotted out and about sporting her version of the 90s handbag in a pale pink-hued Flap Bag with a dainty quilted pattern made by Chanel. The front flap fastened with gold hardware, accenting the pale pink and gold braided strap with some bling. The British radio presenter paired her bag with a jean jacket, just in case the handbag did not emanate enough 90s vibes. But, she was not the first to strut this vintage style, stolen straight from circa 1990-1999.
Mimi Cuttrell, the illustrious New York stylist for Priyanka Chopra and Gigi and Bella Hadid, has manifested her obsession with the styles of the 1990s in her new denim collection, a collaboration with 3x1, which just launched in November. But, even before the release of that collaboration, it was not unusual to see Priyanka Chopra sporting ensembles reminiscent of 1990-something, and the Hadid sisters have also carried around their fair share of 90s handbags, inspired by their vintage-infatuated stylist. In case anyone wants to point the finger, Mimi Cuttrell and the Hadid sisters are probably largely to blame for the whole throwback to the 90s trend if anyone is complaining.
Last February, Bella Hadid was observed slaying the streets with a short-strapped leopard print 90s micro bag, just big enough to hold a wallet, phone, and maybe a lipstick in. Later in the month, she stepped out with a 90s-style bag of the same size slung over her shoulder, only this time in black. Then, in November, headlines all over were screaming about how Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid were bringing back shoulder strap style bags in all different shapes and colours. Gigi may have taken the prize, though, for channelling the era when she paired a 90s reminiscent mini jelly bag with a blue and white ombre tie-dyed double-breasted suit.
Why exactly is there such a dynamic fascination with 90s handbags lately? Like any accessory, throwing on a vintage fashion piece, whether a headband, platform shoes, a choker adorned with a single pendant, or a classic handbag, add an intriguing visual twist to any outfit, sometimes complimentary and other times contradictory. Either way, affixing a vintage handbag to your underarm creates a desirable uniqueness to the outfit, and it takes less than a moment to throw it on.
Then, think about the vintage aspect. Nobody else will be embellished with something identical. Unless, of course, they also stashed away the same handbag for the past 20 years or so in their closet. More importantly, though, might be the nostalgia these statement pieces awaken and excite when they are worn.
One tiny blast from the past, in the form of Gigi Hadid's jelly bag, for instance, can bring back an abundance of memories from a moment in time that happened two or three decades ago. A simple handbag can bring you right back to an entire era like the 90s, which was laden with an assortment of styles; a mixture of designs carried over from the 1980s and combined with rebellion or carefree attitude. As with the 80s, no matter how many funky colours or patterns you were wearing, before you walked out the door, you had to throw on at least one accessory. You could never wear enough accessories.
If you think about it for a moment, it would probably take you longer to read this sentence than it would take to grab a handbag from your closet and toss it over your shoulder. You might as well embrace this trend because it only became more vigorous in 2019, and ss we head into 2020 with a fury, the 90s trends still seem to be holding strong.
Vintage Leather Handbags of the 90s To Buy Now (And Where to Buy Them)
If you have yet to join in on this movement, there are plenty of options to choose from. eBay, Poshmark, and Etsy are great places to look for lavish vintage leather handbags of the 90s. There is a wide variety of styles and the colours can range from red to bright yellow to basic brown, black or white.
Prada leather handbags of the 90s were some of the simplest in presentation and style. The classic little black leather bag at its finest, short shoulder straps, and a tiny Prada logo displayed at the top of the bag near the zipper, these handbags pair with just about anything you want to wear. Style-setter Kendall Jenner was photographed prancing around with her version of the 90s throwback Prada bag, only hers was nylon, rather than leather.
The Prada Sidonie leather shoulder bag is crafted in a variety of shades of leather; white, black, tan, cafe, red, or even bright yellow, and many are two-toned combinations, like red and black or brown and black. The outer leather, shaped with sinuous lines, is made of calf leather, and the flap with a pull-through enclosure folds over the front of the handbag, enclosing the Nappa leather inside. Some are strapped with leather, while others are crafted with gold-toned metal chain straps. The hardware and logo adornment on this 90s-style handbag with a modern twist is either silver or gold, depending on the colour of the bag.
Chloe's new creative director, Natacha Ramsay-Levi came in the door hitting hard with ideas for new bag designs for the brand. Filling the shoes of Clare Waight Keller was not going to be easy, but Ramsay-Levi demonstrated that she was up for the challenge as she introduced new handbags to the public. The Chloe “C” Bag mixed new with old in many ways, from the brand new logo to the retro appearance of the embossed baby pink calfskin leather croc bag. The large gold “C” shaped hardware sits atop the front flap, not taking one ounce of grace away from the delicateness that the Chloe brand has always seemed to embody. If you are not into pink, have no fear, though. The Chloe “C” Bag comes in several other colours.
For those who like to compartmentalize even the little things in their lives, Gucci has designed the GG Marmont mini chain bag. It ditches the flap front that many of the 90s style handbags are made with for three individually zippered compartments. There is a softness to the structure of this handbag, which is crafted with matelassé leather and features a chevron design. Choose from dusty pink, hibiscus red, black, or mystic white adorned with a gold metal double G on one side and a heart embroidered on the other side. To add to the softness, the interior is lined with microfiber that feels like suede, and the built-in double card slot should keep your identification and debit card within reach, right where they should be.
Touching on inspiration from the late 90s, just before the Fendi baguettes took over the scene in the early 2000s, Dior's iconic Saddle bag was easily identified by its shape, which looks just like a mini horse saddle with a strap to sling around your shoulder. Like usual, Bella Hadid has led the pack of celebrity style, toting around a cute little jeans patterned Dior Saddle bag, an alluring diversion from the typical Saddle bag typically constructed with leather material.
Elsa Hosk was photographed posing on the beach in a bikini accentuated with her shades, earrings, and Dior leather Saddle bag. To give this handbag a signature appeal, the leather strap of the Dior Monogram Rasta Saddle Bag is striped in red, yellow, and green, and the same colours slant diagonally across the flap. Topping it off, a polished silver “D” charm hangs from one of the diagonal hues, and the beige canvas of this bag is decorated in the characteristic brown Christian Dior monogram design we are all familiar with.
Fairly new to the handbag brand industry in the 1990s, Birkin bags had only just made their debut in 1984. If you can get your hands on a Birkin bag from the 90s (or you still have one), there is a good chance that it is worth a small fortune today. If not, there are still plenty of other excellent condition used luxury 90s handbags to purchase online.
The Evolution of 90s Louis Vuitton Handbags
Like the classic little black Prada handbag, the 90s Louis Vuitton handbags were made fairly simple and highly recognizable at first sight. Despite being some of the more boring looking handbags in the luxe market, 90s Louis Vuitton handbags were some of the hottest bags around. Similar in size compared to other shoulder bags, a shoulder strap, and a standard tan-coloured leather, patterned with the brown Louis Vuitton logo on the front, back and sides of the bag, it was often called a Pochette. To be blatantly honest, at that time, if you had seen one 90s Louis Vuitton handbag, you had pretty much seen them all.
Stepping out of the norm and trying something new, the brand released the Louis Vuitton Monogram Vernis line in 1998. These handbags looked nothing like the Louis Vuitton bags that we have all been familiar with over the decades. The sizes, shapes, and styles may have changed, but the colours and patterned logos in the standard tan and brown remained the same, even as the decades changed.
Vernis is the French word for varnish, which the perfect way to describe the sparkly and lustrous image of these handbags. Picture the Louis Vuitton logo embossed in a shiny coated leather that gives off serious patent leather vibes. Imagine the brand stepping out of their comfort zone of designing every bag with the long-familiar brown and tan logo combo design, and deciding to create a line of handbags in colours like yellow, rouge, rose, green, aqua blue, deep purple, dark blue, and more. That is what the Vernis line brought to brand fanatics.
In 2003, Louis Vuitton released the multicoloured monogram version of their classic 90s leather handbag. While it was trimmed in brown leather, the bag itself was white and decorated with the logo in a vivid assortment of colours. Most people know this bag as the “rainbow handbag,” as it was coveted by fashion lovers and celebrities alike, and still is.
Even if the 90s handbags trend does fade out in 2020, you should still hold onto all of your vintage handbags from every era if they are in good condition. You never know when those trends will come back into vogue again. Historian and fashion theorist, James Laver, says that fashion trends come back into style 50 years later, which is a long time to be holding onto your favourite handbag from a decade in the past. However, if you do the calculations, 1990 was only 30 years ago, and the 90s handbag trend came back several years ago, so there is not a rhyme or reason for when a fashion trend of the past will resurface.
One thing is for sure, though: if an It celebrity struts around a particular style from the past, whether clothing, shoes, or accessories, there is a good chance it will be back on the fashion scene soon enough.