With an endless appetite (and maybe even budget) for luxury designer handbags, Korean girls in Gangnam sport some of the finest styles. Here is a local’s shopping list of designer handbags that are trending in Seoul, South Korea from 2020 to 2021, including some international brands as well as Korean bag brands.
Michael Kors and Coach bags — like most of Asia — have a better reputation here in South Korea than they do stateside, most likely due to the fact that they never ended up oversaturating the market, losing their luxury status, and plopped in the Marshall’s clearance section as they did throughout the 2000s in the United States.
Still, Koreans have a high value on foreign luxury goods and foreign goods in general, so carrying foreign designer goods like Gucci, Prada, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton carries a lot of weight in the streets of Seoul. Despite the thirst for foreign brands, a lot of local South Korean designers are emerging and holding their own against this fast-fashion market.
Archivepke Fling Bag
This versatile Apk two-way bag creates a sophisticated mood with luxurious lambskin.
I call this a burrito bag, but I secretly love it. I think that this Korean leather bag brand, Archivepke, is super underrated. The prices are reasonable, and the style is on-trend, minimalist with unique accents.
Dior Lady Bag
The Lady Dior bag epitomizes the House’s vision of elegance and beauty. Sleek and refined, the timeless yet relevant style is crafted in black lambskin with Cannage stitching, creating the instantly recognizable quilted texture. The pale gold-finish ‘D.I.O.R.’ charms lend a polished touch to the style. Featuring a thin, removable leather shoulder strap, the medium Lady Dior bag can be carried by hand, worn over the shoulder, or crossbody.
The cost of the Lady Dior bag in South Korea is ₩6,500,000 versus buying the bag in the US at $5,200.00 or 3 900,00 € in France which is a considerable markup like most luxury goods in South Korea. The Lady Dior bag is an absolute classic, but it doesn’t hold its value as well as, say, classic Chanel bags.
Balenciaga City Bag
Enduring even today as an it-bag, the Balenciaga City was introduced and popularized in the early 2000’s by Balenciaga’s then creative director Nicolas Ghesquière. The company management actually dismissed the motorcycle bags when Ghesquière first presented them. Kate Moss apparently loved this bag, requesting one from Nicolas Ghesquière himself, and the bag was also worn by celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. As of May 2020, the price of the Balenciaga City Bag on the US Balenciaga Site is $2,350.
My feelings in 2020: I don’t hate this bag, but it feels very dated and early 2000’s to me. If I were inclined to purchase, I would definitely buy pre-loved as prices have dropped down to $500 on the resale market. It still looks like something I’d find in the bins at TJ Maxx or Marshalls though. Let’s see if it ever makes a full comeback.
My feelings in 2021: FML. I now have this bag.
Prada Nylon Bucket Bag
Miuccia Prada designed a practical line of fabric bags with durable, water-resistant nylon called ‘pocone’ u002du002d previously used for army tents. Regarding the famous nylon backpack in the same line, she said in The New Yorker in 1990, u0022I want always to mix the industrial way of doing things, with the patrimonio of the past, with the artisanal tradition.” It was an antithesis of ’80s excess, steering Prada towards a more vibrant, fresh direction. As of May 2020, the Prada Nylon Bucket Bag retails around $990 in the US.
I have this bag. You have this bag. We all have this bag. As Bianca said in 10 Things I Hate About You, “There’s a difference between like and love. Because, I like my Skechers, but I love my Prada backpack.” I love my Prada bucket.
Louis Vuitton NéoNoé MM Monogram Canvas
The classic Noé was designed by the founder’s grandson, Gaston Louis Vuitton, in 1932 to carry champagne bottles without breakage. The Néo Noé reinterpretation comes with colorful trim. Louis Vuitton Néo Noé retails for $1,780.00 in the US.
You hardly ever see the Louis Vuitton Neverfull in Seoul, really. In its place, the Louis Vuitton Néo Noé seems to be on every shoulder in Gangnam.
Find Kapoor Pingo Bag
Pingo bag boasts its cute but sophisticated vibe, featuring a perfect color combination of the bag’s body, shoulder and hand strap. With an addition of logo lettering on the shoulder strap, the bag is no doubt an accent to your modern and natural daily look.
Faux leather brands like Find Kapoor tend to be a popular choice among trendy, young Korean women. Of course, the classic bucket bag is still hanging strong.
Louis Vuitton Favorite MM in Monogram Canvas
Another favorite in designer handbag collections, the Louis Vuitton Favorite MM comes with a short gold chain and long vachetta leather strap. The LV Favorite can be worn crossbody, off the shoulder, or as a clutch. The Louis Vuitton Favorite MM retails for ₩1,410,000 in South Korea.
I feel like everyone literally has this bag — young or old. Though I do fancy the style of this bag, the wear and tear is notoriously bad. The gold hardware scratches quite easily, the magnetic flap is problematic, the strap gets dingy and falls long, the leather creases, and the shape doesn’t hold well. Nonetheless, it’s a classic style. Unfortunately, I’ve also heard it is being phased out.
Chanel Boy Bag
The Chanel Boy bag was designed and introduced in 2011 by Karl Lagerfeld. It was originally inspired by a cartridge bag, made for hunters. As of 2019, the Chanel Boy Bag retails for $5,500 in the US though Chanel controversially increased their prices worldwide in 2020.
I love the style of the Chanel Boy Bag, but I’ve heard it’s not without its problems. Most notably, the Boy Bag chain can be a bit fussy. Also, the Caviar leather is much more durable albeit less luxurious-looking than lambskin or calfskin leather.
HAY Striped Tote
Though not a designer bag per se, HAY Cotton Bags are perfect for everyday usage. Danish design company, HAY, was founded in 2002 and is characterized by its innovative, fresh designs. The HAY Cotton Eco Bag retails for ₩12,000 in South Korea.
I’m a big tote whore and bought this bag to schlep sundries to and from work. It pairs well with most clothes and is interesting enough to stand out. The straps are also long enough to sit comfortably under your arm. The design is almost identical to Marimekko‘s Varvunraita (Twig Stripe) pattern. Unfortunately, I have to rotate my endless collection of cotton totes as this bag seems to be a little too popular.
Gucci Marmont Small Matelassé Shoulder Bag
Creative Director, Alessandro Michele, really brought new life into Gucci since his arrival. Released in 2016, the Gucci Marmont collection has been a huge hit. The GG Marmont design was originally inspired by a buckle that was used by Gucci in the 70s. The Marmont Matelassé bag is made with chevron leather and a cute heart on the back. The Gucci Marmont Small Matelassé Shoulder Bag retails for $1,980 in the US.
Please let this bag die out. Though this bag isn’t terrible, it’s just so oversaturated — especially with every influencer wearing the double G’s belt. I don’t see this bag as a classic as it’s already looking terribly dated.
Gucci GG Ophidia Medium Tote
First used in the 1970s, the GG logo was an evolution of the original Gucci rhombi design from the 1930s, and from then it’s been an established symbol of Gucci’s heritage. This classic Gucci logo tote retails for $980 in the US.
Couronne Pomelo Crossbody
Couronne is an affordable, luxury goods brand based in South Korea that was founded in 2009 and subsequently bought by Kolon Industries (KOLONMALL). Most of their bags are made with pebbled leather with the signature gold hardware. The Couronne Pomelo Crossbody bag is 428,000 Won.
Goyard Saint Louis Tote PM
Goyard is a French trunk and leather goods maker. Established in 1853 in Paris, and previously doing business as Martin (Pierre-François Martin founded the House of Martin in 1792) and then Morel, it is older than Louis Vuitton by one year, although Bally was founded even earlier in 1851. The Goyard Saint Louis Tote PM is approximately $1,200 in the US. Goyard does not have an e-commerce store, surprisingly!
Seen in various colors slouched over shoulders everywhere in the posh district of Gangnam in Seoul, Korea. I would like the Goyard Saint Louis Tote more if it held its shape better. There’s even a Goyard store at Hyundai COEX Department Store – Trade Center (1F 159-7, Samsung Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul).
Coach Cassie Crossbody
Coach is an affordable American luxury bag company that dates back to 1941. The Cassie Crossbody retails for 550,000 KRW in South Korea and 350 USD in the United States.
Though Coach is ever so popular in Asia, I still can’t get over their hideous logo bags in the 2000s that somehow made it into every TJ Maxx and Marshall’s bin all over the United States. The heritage collection is a step in the right direction, but I’m not ready for Coach’s comeback. Best to snag a vintage non-logo Coach bag under $50 at thrift stores around America. Trust me, they’re there.
Burberry Small Two-Tone Canvas and Leather TB Bag
Burberry was founded in 1856 in the UK when 21-year-old Thomas Burberry, a former draper’s apprentice, opened his own store in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England. Most known for their classic trench coats and founded on the principle that clothing should be designed to protect people from the British weather. The Burberry small two-tone canvas and leather TB Bag retails for 2,390,000 KRW in South Korea and 1790 USD in the United States.
Though the style looks like the perfect spring/summer bag, the TB hardware just makes me thing of tuberculosis. No? Am I the only one?
Issey Miyake BAOBAO Lucent Tote in Black
The original Bao Bao Issey Miyake accessories collection launched in 2000. The design was a continuation of the Miyake’s experiments with fabric and construction, with the idea that the more rigid triangles would create u0022shapes made by chanceu0022 when the bags were moved or placed on surfaces. The bags and pouches are crafted by fixing small triangles of multi-layer polyvinyl and jersey to mesh fabric. The BAOBAO Lucent Tote retails for 527,520 KRW at SSG.com.
Saint Laurent Solferino Medium Satchel
The Saint Laurent Solferino Medium Satchel is a YSL monogram leather handbag with a classic front flap, metal clasp, and adjustable shoulder strap.
I love YSL bags, and generally speaking, I think they’re good quality at the price point when it comes to luxury handbags. I am, however, exhausted by the YSL monogram which is why I’m somewhat glad that the brand is pivoting away from their monogram in some of their more recent handbags. Of course, you can still spot a YSL logo a mile away in Gangnam.
Luxury travel bag company, Tumi, was founded by Charlie Clifford after a stint in Peru and was later acquired by Samsonite. The Dori Backpack is a sleek, black-on-black ballistic nylon backpack with gold hardware and multiple pockets.
These Tumi backpacks seem like the go-to business backpack to and from the office for both men and women around Gangnam.
I’m personally not a huge fan of Tumi as I find their designs stale and the luxury status of the brand questionable as they’re often dropped in discount stores like Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx.
10 Corso Como Eco Totes
Kooky and fun eco bag from iconic Italian boutique, 10 Corso Como. 100% cotton, black and white design, 42 X 42 cm.
If you have the chance, check out the 10 Corso Como flagship store in Seoul in Apgujeong! They stock hard-to-find niche perfumes, local streetwear brands, and a beautiful collection of Alaïa handbags. 10 Corso Como is located at 79 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
Loeuvre Sac de Trompette
Inspired by a trumpet, the bag has a hexagonal bottom and a voluminous feeling. The vintage gold-plated handle and bold chain details can be held or worn on the shoulder with a long, detachable strap. Made with goat and cow leather.
The Sac de Trompette bag by Korean brand, Loeuvre, gives me some pseudo-Bottega Veneta vibes with the mix of a thick gold chain and black leather.
Raive Luke Bag
Logo-engraved buckle on the front and made with 100% leather.
It’s no surprise that this bag from Korean brand, Raive, is popular. It’s a dupe for the classic Fendi baguette bag!
Joseph & Stacey Lucky Pleats Bag
Joseph & Stacey is a Seoul-based Korean fashion company specializing in handcrafted, leather (and non-leather) bags. The Lucky Pleats bags are made of 97% Polyester and 3% Polyurethane, making it an easy bag to schlep around every day. It also comes in a ton of colors to match any outfit.
For those located in the United States, you can also shop Joseph & Stacey in the United States.
Elbategev Ostra Mini Bag
Elbategev bags have recently caught my attention for their luxe leather, sleek, minimal lines, and practicality. You can also purchase their bags in the United States via their international online store.
Hoze Wise Bag
The Hoze Wise bag is a classic, boxy-shaped, pebbled-leather bag with snap closing and a wide crossbody strap. It currently comes in 5 classic colors.