1. JOYN, Keya Leather Tote in Brown, $250
2. ABLE, Selam Tote in Cognac, $188
3. K. Slade, Carry All in Saddle, $356
4. Meyelo, Nubuck Classic Tote, $190
5. von Holzhausen, Technik-Leather Market Tote in Caramel and Black, $295
Keya Leather Tote in Brown
This one reminds us of our study abroad days– heavy duty while staying stylish, and made of durable, high quality leather. Pack in your everyday essentials for a long trip, or just make it your daily companion on your train ride to work; it's the perfect size for everything you need, but not too big to weigh you down. The thick leather has a finish that will only look better with wear, so don’t be afraid to plop this down on the seat next to you while you commute, or attach the crossbody strap and throw it in the back of your friend's car for a weekend getaway. There’s enough room in here for your laptop and a bottle of wine – not that you would ever answer work emails while having a glass...
Joyn is basically everything we want in any company we're giving our money to. Committed to hand-to-market goods using ethical pricing and the utmost transparency, Joyn’s site offers everything from the names and smiling faces of the actual artisans who make your bag in various parts of the world, to a model of the entire manufacturing process, to a detailed breakdown of how pricing works and why your Joyn bag costs exactly what it does. You’ll also find information on each Joyn factory, from Arkansas and Los Angeles, to their overseas factories—where Joyn’s vision is to “create pockets of manufacturing all over India and Southeast Asia that are locally led, putting work back into the hands of the makers, and defying the “fast fashion” industry of sweatshops and underpaid laborers”. This bag will hold your keys and phone, sure, but what it really holds is an incredible story of human dignity, creativity, and craftmanship.
Selam Tote in Cognac
This one might be our favorite – it’s structured enough to stand up on its own and so elegant in its design, not to mention having such a beautiful tawny color. The front pockets are super helpful for those of us who can always use a little built-in organization. This is the quintessential tote – classic, trustworthy, useful. It'll be a part of your life for years to come. Pair it with the Amour Vert "Adelie" dress and a red lip and you're ready for a Bon Weekend.
The fashion industry is the 3rd largest industry in the world, and over 75% of the fashion workforce is women, which is why ABLE is all about the ladies. By empowering women, ending generational poverty through economic opportunities, and championing women who have overcome extraordinary circumstances, ABLE is making a significant difference in communities all over the world. This is a company that knows that, when women are gainfully employed, it's not just individual families that benefit, but entire communities. Forget those fast fashion knock offs, ya’ll--put your dollars where your heart is and shop ABLE.
Carry All in Saddle
The biggest of the bunch, K. Slade’s Carry All is really closer to a weekender. The larger size doesn’t mean a heavier bag, though. This beauty is lightweight, so stuff it full of whatever you need – work files and work out clothes? Great. Hiking gear and a bunch of trashy magazines? Perfect. The kids' stuffed animals and three bottles of wine? It fits!
K.Slade is America at its best: classic, simple, durable, well-made. Each handbag is designed in Evansville, Indiana--where Kelsea Slade herself started the brand--and crafted in Chicago, Illinois, using the finest and most durable leather, cloth, and hardware. Kelsea is committed to employing American workers, and has pledged to make American manufacturing a continued part of her brand, despite the increased costs associated with it. Go ‘Merica. Go Kelsea. We love seeing ladyboss entrepreneurs following their dreams, and grateful when those dreams turn into bags as pretty and well-made as this one.
Nubuck Classic Tote
This one reminds us of that cool bag from the 70s that we saw a picture of our mom carrying back in the day. It haunts us. Why didn’t she save it?! Where is it now?? Here's to hoping someone feels the same way about a picture of you someday. We have a feeling you'll know exactly where this bag is when that nostalgic photo pops up on whatever device our children will be using as adults -- with a style this classic, it might still be on your arm. #nostalgia.
Yes, you get a beautiful tote made from raw, up-cycled cowhide for your money, but even better, your purchase from Meyelo will provide an artisan in Africa—currently, Meyelo employs over 80 people in Kenya—with a source of fair trade income, support for their local community, and a global platform for their work. Committed to long-term, sustainable growth, Meyelo provides its Kenyan partners with economic support, business training and community development programs, including education, farming co-ops and medical care. You get to support this incredible work, and you get a dope bag your offspring will one day covet. That ubiquitous Madewell bag? Ain't got nothin' on this one.
Technik-Leather Market Tote in Caramel and Black
Let us introduce you to the leather tote's younger, hotter cousin. Technik–Leather, a 100% animal-free material engineered to have the supple feel of traditional leather with the durability of a high-end performance fabric. Carry the ultra lightweight Market Tote from von Holzhausen for a week and you'll wonder what you ever thought was so cool about animal skins. The knotted handle--a von Holzhausen signature--gives a classic style a modern, updated look, and paired with the hi-tech fabric, you’ll feel like the future version of yourself. You know, the one who has the latest iPhone and knows what the cloud is.
Launched in 2015, von Holzhausen offers a high-end assortment of timeless bags and accessories that are ethically made in the U.S. and sold direct-to-consumer to avoid the retail mark-up. When former automotive designer Vicki von Holzhausen started her brand, she focused on ethically made leather sourced from the food industry (meaning no animal was used solely for its hide) and found a tannery committed to sustainability and respect for the environment. Now she's phasing out real leather to focus on her Technik–Leather line, which is even better for the environment--this hi-tech fabric is toxin-free and super eco-friendly since 99% of the solvents used to produce it are recaptured and recycled. And the Malibu-based company gives back; von Holzhausen currently partners with Hope Gardens, working to help women living on Skid Row in Los Angeles to regain independence through long-term rehabilitation programs and support services. If you needed a reason to buy a luxe bag, now you have one.