A guide to minimalist handbags

What are minimalist fashion and minimalist handbags?

Minimalist fashion is a style that focuses on the essentials, while eliminating the unnecessary. Removing, yes, but with a clever and aesthetic approach. And it’s the same with minimalist handbags.
For me, designing a minimalist bag isn’t only about removing what isn’t needed. It’s about creating a beautiful piece with intelligence, finding the right balance between simplicity, practicality and originality.

Minimalist handbags, with their simple style, don’t usually follow trends. They are wardrobe staples to keep for several years (or for a lifetime) with a versatile style that goes with every outfit. Minimalist handbags are not just any bags. They’re lifetime companions you can go back to, time and time again.

Discover Klès’ hand-crafted minimalist bags, made to last from chemical-free leather.


Minimalist bags


Are minimalist handbags more expensive?

Yes and no. With less elements composing the design, each detail counts in a minimalist bag, down to the stitches. Some elements like the attention given to the design, the materials and the quality of the production are crucial to make a minimalist bag “work”. There isn’t cutting corners in minimal design.
High-end materials, good pattern cutting and quality production are very costly, this is why good minimalist handbags are usually more expensive than other styles.

If you’re transitioning your whole wardrobe to a minimalist style, it will probably be expensive, but the amazing thing with minimal style is that it won’t go out of fashion every season. So you can keep wearing your well-made, impeccably-cut wardrobe and handbags for years without having to reinvest in a new one every season.

And you don’t have to change your entire wardrobe overnight. You can buy good pieces one by one, every few months, giving you time to save for the right items. Investing in key pieces first - a handbag, a pair of shoes and a coat - is a good idea. They will set the tone to your outfits, giving them that minimalist edge, even before your wardrobe has fully transitioned to a minimalist one.


Are minimalist handbags a sustainable choice?

Minimalist handbags, with their simple designs are usually timeless, so you can keep using the same bag for years.
This is especially true with leather bags, in particular quality ones. Leather is a very durable material (much more durable than fabric) and when well made, and well cared for, a leather bag will last a very long time, decades even. And durability is a very important factor in the sustainability of a product.

Now, not all leathers are the same in regard to the sustainability of their making process. The primary raw material composing leather, animal skin, is a natural material, but the tanning, which is the transformation process to leather, can be very different from one leather hide to another.
If like me, sustainability is important to you, I recommend buying a handbag made of leather called “vegetable tanned leather”. Vegetable tanned leather, also called veg tan, is tanned with a special process involving natural ingredients such as tree bark, leaves and roots, an age-old process invented 5000 years ago. It’s a very different process from “chrome tanned” leather, which uses harmful chemicals and isn’t sustainable. Learn more about vegetable tanned leather.


Minimalist handbags with bag charms


Where to shop minimalist handbags?

It depends on your budget of course, but because the quality really shows on a minimalist handbag, it’s best to buy a quality one.

Small slow fashion brands are good value for money. They really care about their customers, and unlike big brands and fast fashion brands, they allocate more budget on making good products than on marketing.
Slow fashion brands also have the added benefit to care about the well-being of people involved in their production chain and their impact on the environment.

What you want to look for is slow fashion, independent bag brands and leather artisans with a production in England (or even Europe). Especially the ones with a handmade production, in small scale factories or in their own studios, where you can be certain of the quality of the products. These small brands and makers usually create very well made handbags, with the best leathers, at reasonable prices.

A good place to look for such brands is on the internet, because small brands usually don’t have their own shops, they’re too expensive for small businesses. You can also find some of these brands at makers markets, fashion pop-up shops and online marketplaces like Etsy.

See our range of handmade minimalist bags.


How to wear minimalist fashion?

There are no strict rules, but with minimalist fashion, the thing to remember is that less is more. I personally love minimalist fashion with a touch of originality, one detail or element that makes the garment or outfit special. It can be an unusual bag strap, an original pocket or colour, but it has to be fairly subtle to remain minimalist.
Talking about colours, you might think that minimalist fashion has to be fairly monochromatic, with black, white, grey and beige head to toe, but you can totally use colours. 
Muted colours like dark green, khaki, dark blue and burgundy, as well as lighter muted shades work particularly well with a minimalist style, but bright colours do too. Have a look at this Klès “Colourful minimalist style” Pinterest board for inspiration.

Minimalist style doesn’t have to be boring, it can be playful and full of personality. The way I like to wear minimalist fashion is by wearing a simple pair of trousers with a minimalist handbag and shoes, and bring some originality with a statement piece, such as large earrings or necklace, or a statement top, jacket or coat. Adding a bag charm to your minimalist bag is also a good way to add originality to a simple outfit, check out our new bag charms.
This way, you have your basics that you wear over and over, pieces that in my opinion have to be impeccable (meaning quality), and you have a few statement pieces that you wear occasionally. It’s a very good way of owning a minimalist wardrobe (minimalist in size), that’s versatile, so you can have a lot of different outfits from it.

Original minimalist accessories 

Now that you have a good idea of what minimalist handbags are and why they are great, discover our collection of minimalist leather bags, slow-crafted in England by myself, Jessica.
I’m passionate about minimalist design and well made fashion, and I hope I passed on some of my passion to you in this article.

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