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Labels to Watch: Bags that stand the test of time

By Karenita Haalck



Image: Agneel

Italian fashion journalist Anna Dello Russo once described accessories as the "vitamins" of fashion. Being the backbone of the wardrobe, accessories are daily companions that have to deliver in two ways: endless versatility and offer a certain something. In addition to appearance, functionality plays a major role.

FashionUnited has selected bag labels where timelessness and attention to detail are ingrained into the design DNA. With craftsmanship, material know-how and minimalistic aesthetics, the brands Sagan, Agneel and Atp Atelier design bags that meet the zeitgeist, yet withstand the transience of trends.

Sagan - Viennese flair, Japanese influences and craftsmanship

Scarf Crossbody Bag | Image: Sagan

Headquartered in Vienna, the label was founded in 2016 and has since embraced a sustainable, timeless approach to design, producing bags that have a recognition factor. Founders, Tanja Bradaric and Taro Ohmae, have Croatian and Japanese roots and draw inspiration from Viennese flair and Japanese aesthetics.

Bag crafted from recycled Denim | Image: Sagan

The label's name, which translates to "the left riverbank" in Japanese, reflects a sensitivity to individualism and an inventive non-conformity. Under the tagline "familiar done differently", the design duo creates minimalist bags that catch the eye through refined, handcrafted details. "We think for consumers it is all about consciously choosing valuable material and timeless design that does not foster ephemerality but is long lasting," Bradaric told FashionUnited.

The assortment ranges from small bags and leather accessories to roomy tote bags. Many of Sagan's customers come from the cultural and creative industries and appreciate the Viennese way of life and local craftsmanship. Thus, it's no surprise that Sagan's best-selling bag at the moment is the Pazar Book Tote - a large tote bag for everyday use, with an outer pocket specifically made to hold a book.

"We try to show our customers a world in which stories about traditions meet with timelessness and progressivity. So with each bag, we also pass on a piece of culture," Bradaric said.

Pazar Tote Bag | Image: Sagan

Next to traditional leather, Sagan makes use of other materials, such as Grape Leather, a vegan material derived from grape pulp, a waste product of the wine industry.

Sagan works mainly with specialised production facilities in Austria and Japan. "We acknowledge that design is strongly influenced by its resources and local production," said Bradaric. Gaining insight into the manufacturing process is one of the driving factors of the design duo’s plans to visit production sites more often. They also hope to boost collaborations with specialised, local artists this way.

According to Sagan, respect for the origin of materials is a key factor when it comes to rethinking the fashion industry. For the future, Sagan is particularly interested in working even more with retailers who understand the Sagan product and transmit its values to customers.

Points of sale: Via the Sagan’s online store, in the Berlin department store KaDeWe, as well as in selected stores in Japan (Isetan, United Arrows, Urban Research).
Price range: The handbags are between 300 and 700 euros (roughly between 80 and 590 pounds), small leather goods between 100 and 200 euros (about 80 to 170 pounds).
Contact: Contact details can be found on the website of the brand.

Agneel - Versatility, attention to detail and Italian expertise

The Berlin-based bag label Agneel was founded in 2016 by Yesim Karaman. Karaman's design language aims to combine form with function. At Agneel, the bag is seen as a loyal companion, meant to complement its wearer's style rather than overpowering it. The creative process at Agneel defies conventional collection cycles and trends. Instead, the Berlin-based label focuses on minimalist design that is enhanced with details such as unusual shapes, leather embossing and eye-catching closures.

Image: Agneel

Since its founding, the bags have been manufactured in an atelier in the Turkish city of Izmir, but now production is to be moved to a Florence-based family business that has been working with Agneel since 2021. The leather used at Agneel is sourced from suppliers certified by the Leather Working Group. The non-governmental organisation evaluates leather manufacturers based on criteria such as water and energy consumption and waste management.

Production site in Florence | Image: Agneel

"We notice that more and more consumers are actively looking for an alternative to fast fashion and that they value products much more when they buy them out of conviction," said Karaman. Agneel sees “informed customers who know exactly what kind of product they want to invest their money in" as the future of sustainable fashion.

The designs are created for women who are looking for a bag to take to work in the morning, but is also suitable for their evening plans. With the launch of the boxy ‘Dena’ shoulder bag, in late 2021, Agneel has created a new customer favourite. Other best-selling models include ‘Nora’, a crescent-shaped shoulder bag, and ‘Agnes’, a bag with a soft body.

Dena Bag | Image: Agneel

Agneel is currently working to strengthen its core collection. "However, our goal is not to simply design more and more and more new things. It's more about identifying gaps, and finding out what's missing in the market for our target group. We then want to design exactly that bag for them," said Karaman. Agneel is also aiming for greater international brand awareness. To achieve this, the label wants to collaborate with various retailers worldwide in the future - especially with physical stores.

Points of sale: Via Agneel’s own online store, Freiraum's online store and at Ofelia in Berlin.
Price category:The prices for bags are between 306 and 590 pounds.
Contact: The brand can be reached via their website.

Atp Atelier - Scandinavian design, made in Italy

Atp Atelier was founded in 2010 by Maj-La Pizzelli and Jonas Clason. The label combines Scandinavian modernity with craftsmanship from Italy. Atp Atelier's bag collections range from large, roomy models to small leather accessories, such as card holders and additional bag straps. In addition to bags, their offering also includes shoe collections.

According to Pizzelli, sustainability has been a deciding factor even when the company was founded - yet Pizzelli considers more than just the environmental impact. “It is also about the relationship we have with the pieces we bring into our lives. It's about not taking more than you give and really taking care of your things, so they will last a lifetime," she wrote in a manifesto for the company. Pizzelli coined the phrase "smart luxury" for Atp Atelier. Products should not become obsolete, and should be appreciated - purchasing decisions should be motivated by reason rather than trends.

Image: Atp Atelier

All cowhides used at Atp Atelier are processed through vegetable tanning to create the final material from which the bags are made. Vegetable tanning is a more environmentally friendly alternative to the harmful chrome tanning that is still largely used in leather production today.

Atp Atelier summer 2022 campaign | Image: ATP Atelier

In the future, Atp Atelier plans to explore new manufacturing techniques and challenge industry norms - how the label aims to achieve this is not clear yet.

Points of sale: Various online platforms in Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, as well as brick-and-mortar outlets in Scandinavia, Europe, North America, Australia, Asia and in Dubai. Atp Atelier has its own flagship store in Stockholm.
Price range:The bags are between 280 and 600 pounds.
Contact: Contact details can be found on the website of the brand.

This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.DE. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.

ATP Atelier
Labels To Watch