Though I’m a lover of all accessories, shoes, and statement pieces, there’s a special place in my heart for handbags. Over the years, I’ve collected a wide variety of bags in different shapes, sizes, colors and price points. From the ultra-tiny micro bags that can barely fit two of my thoughts to the jumbo tote bags that can pretty much hold my entire life, the sky is truly the limit when it comes to styles.
But as my collecting hobby progressed, I began to really think about what it means to shop intentionally when it comes to filling my closet. Going out into the world with a nice-looking handbag in tow is confidence-boosting, but when it also comes from a Black designer whose values align with mine, something as mundane as a trip to the grocery store becomes a deeply personal experience.
My dive into finding Black-owned bags started with well-known brands like Telfar and Brandon Blackwood, and expanded as I became more familiar with other designers. These discoveries were largely due to following accounts on Instagram dedicated to sharing Black-owned businesses and brands, such as @blackownedeverything, @betonblackowned and @15percentpledge.
Black representation in fashion remains an area with room for improvement for the industry — especially in the handbag arena — but in the meantime, there’s always room to celebrate and embrace the Black designers that do exist. These designers experiment with different textures and silhouettes, and make their bags accessible either on their own websites or through large retailers like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Many Black designers also use their platforms to share thoughtful messages, stand up for social justice issues and give back to their communities, and several are included in the non-exhaustive list below.
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Silver and Riley Durban crossbody bag
This chic Italian leather bag from Silver and Riley
, an accessories brand founded by Lola Banjo, can be worn in several ways, including as a shoulder bag, crossbody and as a clutch when you remove the strap.
Petit Kouraj mini fringe bag
Make a fashion statement with this eye-catching fringe bag by Petit Kouraj
, a handmade handbag brand founded by Nasrin Jean-Baptiste. All of the brand's bags are sustainably made by Haitian artisans. The bag features a fishnet-style construction and a detachable strap.
Brother Vellies Naomi shoulder bag
was founded in 2013 by Toronto native and New York City transplant Aurora James to upkeep traditional African design practices. The Naomi bag has polished logo hardware and is made of smooth nylon.
Anima Iris Zaza bag
Wilglory Tanjong, the founder of Anima Iris
, draws inspiration for her bags from Africa's history and cultures. Each bag is handcrafted by artisans in Dakar, Senegal, including Zaza, a trapezoidal, smooth leather top-handle bag that comes with a magnetic closure.
A A K S Bika raffia crossbody bag
A quality crossbody bag belongs in every collection and this one from Akosua Afriyie-Kumi's A A K S
is handcrafted from colorful woven rafﬁa in Ghana. It features leather straps, an inner pocket and a flap closure.
Vavvoune EFA leather bag
Smooth Italian leather was used to construct this sleek handbag designed by Valerie Blaise, founder and designer of Brooklyn-based Vavvoune
. It has a four-inch strap drop and comes in red, black, white and brown.
Mateo Diana croc bag
As the son of a seamstress, Matthew Harris' close relationship with fashion is reflected in his brand Mateo
, which first became notable for its fine jewelry collections. The brand expanded to include a bag collection, including the Diana tote. The croc-effect bag features two top handles, a detachable shoulder strap and metal feet so it never has to touch the ground.
EDAS mini Yshaia leather shoulder bag
Sade Mims, the lead designer and founder of EDAS
, described EDAS bags
as "eclectic," and this Yshaia bag's eye-catching appearance is just that. Made of aged leather on the exterior and cotton lining on the interior, this mini bag features rounded edges and a unique, oversized buckle on the strap.
Ashya Bolo bag
Founded in 2017 by Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece, New York-based Ashya
delivers multifunctional travel accessories that aim to "diversify cultural perspectives through broadly researched narratives and design." This Bolo bag is hand-stitched and made of vegetable tanned cow leather and custom 14k gold plated hardware. The styling options are limitless, as you can wear it around your neck or waist, or as a crossbody or mini backpack.
Under the creative direction of Adetoun Ajeigbe, Joel Lani
offers handmade leather accessories produced in Lagos, Nigeria by local artisans. The Bookie shoulder bag features a leather croc-embossed design, silver tone hardware and suede lining.
Max + Min
For a stylish micro bag, look to Tiarra Smallwood's brand Max + Min
. The multifunctional mini Meru bag functions as a clutch, crossbody, belt bag and shoulder bag. It comes with a removable crossbody strap and a removable top handle. Like the name projects, Smallwood's inspiration behind each bag is to "create for the minimalist fashion lover while keeping maximum attention to details," according to the brand's site
's unique bags rose in popularity after releasing his "End Systematic Racism" mini tote bags in 2020 in support of Black Lives matter protests. Since then, many celebrities have sported his trunks, totes, wallets, puffer and shoulder bags. The mini Cara duffle bag has a zip closure and a removable adjustable strap.
Homage Year Classic Ova bag
Homage Year was founded in 2014 byBronx native and Atlanta resident Antoine Manning
after the passing of his father. Each bag is intentionally designed, including the color ways, which each represent different virtues.
Baldwin Era Ming C bag
is a luxury handbag line founded by Cincinnati, Ohio native Ashley Martin. Made of vegan leather, Baldwin Era's Ming C bag is a part of the brand's new fall collection. The exterior displays a vegan leather green crocodile pattern and the bag comes with a detachable crossbody strap.
VNM by Vixen Brunch mini bag
As seen on an episode
of Issa Rae's HBO show "Rap Sh!t," this mini envelope bag tells you exactly what to keep in it. It features a textured linen exterior, crossbody strap and one pocket on the inside. VNM by Vixen
was founded by Atinuke Adedeji in 2021.