Handbag History: Bags That Ruled The Decades & How You Can Use Them Today

For a woman, a handbag is essential. Right from carrying her world in it, it also acts as an accessory, accentuating her outfit of the day. Today, you will come across a plethora of styles. However, each decade had that one bag that ruled the era. So, let’s rewind a little and learn more about handbag history. Also, we bring you quirky handbag history titbits that will surely amuse you. Keep reading to know all about it!

Did you know? During the era of World war II, Gucci made use of cane as handbag handles as leather was not available very easily.

When Was Handbag Invented?

Handbags aren’t a new invention if that’s what you are wondering. Ages ago, right back at 38,000 BC, hunter-gatherers made use of bundles that was made of fabric in order to transport food or tools. And, in Ancient Rome, drawstring purse was worn by both men and women. So yes, purses or handbags have always been in style. Did you know? Before the handbag for women came into existence, women made use of pockets to carry their stuff. These pockets were worn beaneath the dress. Can you imagine being without a handbag?

The 50s Era

The war had ended by 1950 and fashion was at its bloom then, which was mainly led by Dior. They had introduced their new look with full-length skirts and defined waists. So, a small dainty handbag was used here to match the new look. This look was marketed as the 50s aesthetic look. Here, women were required to match each accessory. Therefore, owning a plethora of handbags of the same style but different colors was a common sight. Although other players, such as Gucci and Hermes introduced note-worthy bags, it was Chanel who stole the show. She created a quilted-leather bag with a thin chain that a woman could hand from her shoulders and this was revolutionary.

Today, this style is back in fashion. It especially goes well with flowy dresses and skirts. You can use it as a party bag or for fancy occasions.

A quick handbag history titbit. Did you know? The first handbags for women were basically the women’s pocket with handles on them. And, since they were worn beneath the clothes, close to the skin, it was considered to be an undergarment. So, when the handbags gained popularity, they were seen as something vulgur.

The 60s Era

By 1960, experimenting with fashion had gone up. Here, the younger generation discarded the handbags and instead opted for dresses with pockets. However, handbags were still used to make a style statement. This new-found fashion freedom led Paco Rabanne to experiment and launch a new set of chain mall purses. In the luxury end, Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton came up with their styles.

Just like in the 60s, you can use these bags today to make a style statement.

Did you know? Early American feminists wanted the pockets back. Why? Because handbags for women and pockets for men was viewed as a symbol of inequality. And, they also believed that pockets were practical.

The 70s Era

The 70s was the bohemian era. A variety of bags were introduced. Right from leather bags to suede and long to slender straps, and bags with fringe (which are even popular today), were all ruling the era. Spanish label Loewe embraced the freedom that this decade depicted and by 1977, Studio 54 was also launched.

Even today 70s fashion is all around us especially when it comes to handbags.

Did you know? By the end of nineteenth century, more functional bags were introduced for women and luggage creators, such as Louis Vuitton called them as ‘handbags.’

The 80s Era

In the 80s, handbags were used to show-off your fashion sense. Karl Lagerfeld replaced Chanel’s classic flap handbags with Mademoiselle twist locks. Here, Prada’s bag, made from nylon, a fabric that was once reserved for the Italian army, was created. These bags cost more than the leather bags, ushering a new wave of fashion.

Again, even today these bags are used and known for their fashion statement.

Did you know? The most expensive bag ever to be made is a heart-shaped copy of 18-carat gold and this bag is covered with 4517 diamonds. It’s approximate cost is about 3 million euros. Its name is Mouawad 1001 Nights Diamond Purse.

The 90s Era

The 90s had several beautiful bag moments. In 1997, Prada came up with a practical backpack, and Baguette came up with their creation of bags that were supposedly exclusive. Celebrities like Naomi Campbell and Madonna were spotted with this bag frequently and it also appeared regularly on the famous show, Sex, and The City.

You won’t spot these bags often today. But they are still considered to be a classic and you can use them for special occasions.

Did you know? Rumor says that Louis Vuitton burns its unsold bags. Why? Because they don’t want sell them at a lower price as they have a luxury reputation they are required to protect. Do you think it is true?

The 2000s

By 2000, bags were known to be a fashion accessory. In fact, women would get on waiting lists for bags from well-known designers. For instance, Chloe’s Paddington weighed over 1 kg when empty, but before it could even hit the stores, all 8000 handbags had been bagged by women who put their names on the waiting list.

Did you know? The first handbag with a zipper was brought to us by Hermes in 1923. Before that, drawstrings were used to close the bag and were mainly used to carry coins.

The 2010s


The Bucket Bag

During this era, chic and compact handbags were in fashion. The “robot face bag,” designed by Philo for Celine was released and became an instant hit. Then came the Chanel Boy Bag, a compact creation by the brand, which was perfect for parties and events. Finally, this era also saw the leather bucket bag, courtesy Mansur Gavriel, which is still a favorite among many.

Today, you can play with handbags as your signature look and it is appreciated, which means, you have the freedom to choose and experiment.

Did you know? During the early 20th century, handbags were called ‘briefcase.’ Why? Because they were once considered to be male accessories. However, the name later got changed.

Hope you enjoyed this! If you want us to add something more, write to us at hello@bloomercraze.com or you can always comment below. Also, let us know if you want more articles such as these!


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