Please Touch: The Biggest Handbag Trends Of 2018


In the paraphrased words of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, what does not kill us makes us stronger — but he forgot to mention that it also makes us softer. After an extraordinarily challenging year (socially, politically, environmentally, etc.) that has left many feeling emotionally drained, people are returning to their roots — a sentiment reflected in the handbags of the 2018 runways.

Though contemporary minimalism and space-age paraphernalia made their annual appearance, the theme of 2018 is comfort: fabrics are plush and cozy, multilayered pieces beg to be touched and rifled through, details are hand-stitched, and patches are applied with care. It's clear that these bags reflect our need for connection; take a look at 2018's top five handbag trends, as seen at New York Fashion Week and beyond. 


Soft Landing

Lions and tigers and bears — and chinchillas and ostriches, oh my! The animal kingdom was on full display on the winter 2018 runways: warm, furry, fuzzy bags looked cozy enough to rest your head on! At Prada, plush caramel fur stayed straightlaced with leather detailing and practical hardware, while Balenciaga's trademark oversized bag skewed softer in creamy white ostrich feather. At Kenzo, fabulous, fluffy handbags in baby blue and buttercup yellow drove us absolutely wild. 

Animal Style

Move over, In-N-Out: the 2018 runways were overrun with animalistic designs. And we're not talking about leopard print! At Kate Spade, a basket-knit alligator purse — with little feet to boot! — was the perfect mix of crafty and cute, while at Thom Browne, a penguin-shaped bag looked perfect for the cold winter ahead. Nostalgia was on the prowl as well: at Loewe, a Simba-shaped handbag à la The Lion King sent us right back to childhood. Hakuna matata!


Three’s Company

The message on the 2018 runways was loud and clear: more is more. Purses were piled on top of each other for a multilevel, staircase effect, hooked together like keychains or stuffed one inside the other. Gucci debuted not one but three iconic bags held together with little hooks — a stairway to couture heaven. At Fendi, clutches of all sizes were looped on a hoop like a key ring; at Anna Sui, a small velvet evening clutch popped out of the top of another handbag for easy access.


DIY or Die

In keeping with a more hands-on theme, DIY aesthetics stood out on this year's runways. At Coach, bags bedecked with flowers, studs, and Keith Haring patches put smiles on our faces, while at Libertine, a classic black patent clutch went punk with stickers featuring Salvador Dali and the Velvet Underground. Christian Siriano spoke truth to power with a black circle bag emblazoned with PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE — and, because fashion is nothing if not tongue-in-cheek, another bag emblazoned with IT BAG.

Straw Man

Like jewel tones in fall, straw is ubiquitous in summer. But on the 2018 runways, de rigueur picnic basket designs underwent serious changes: think layering, distress, and lots of appliqué. At Ulla Johnson, trends collided in the form of a boardwalk-worthy straw tote with a small bucket bag attached (in both beachy beige and traditional black and white). At Vivienne Tam, a circle bag with butterfly appliqués threw back to the nineties, while at 3.1 Philip Lim, a straw drawstring bag with a frayed top reminiscent of a pineapple head stole the show.