It's said that you are either a shoe or a bag girl. In all honestly, I couldn't settle down in either camp and consider myself a shoe hoarder and handbag addict in equal measures. Accessories have the power to transform even the simplest jeans and tee combos or go-to dress ensembles, and provide instant gratification when there's that niggling craving of just wanting something 'new'. So when I'm looking to invest in a buy with versatility, longevity and that's utterly covetable, for me, it's always a new handbag or shoes.
Having viewed hundreds of bag collections over the years as a fashion editor, from high street to bridge brand, boutique label, designer and budding design talent, I'm a dab hand at hunting out worth-the-investment styles. You know, the ones that feel like you're really getting a lot of bang for your buck.
There's nothing worse than injecting a chunk of your hard earned cash into a bag buy that doesn't last the distance, isn't relevant across multiple seasons and can't handle all year round wear and tear. Durability, flexibility and the ability to always feel that little bit 'special' every time you use it, whether lifting your off duty weekend wear or acting as your armour for job interview and boardroom.
So when rising handbag designer Alexa Jay flew onto my accessory radar recently my head was instantly turned. It was the standout strap of the Domino satchel that did it for me at first. An almost tribal-like triangular design that adds instant interest to a practical monochrome bag. On closer inspection the beautifully crafted soft Italian leather is custom printed with an elegant, contemporary pattern. And it's this craftsmanship and strict attention-to-detail that sits at the heart of this luxury British label. Married with creative accessory flair (the humbug striped straps and matching lining) Alex Jay is a handbag star to watch.
As for the best of the rest, us fashion ed's love a secret bag label that's not yet hit the mainstream. Here are my other tip-off's...
Italian-Brit Melissa Del Bono wanted to create a handbag line that could be taken seamlessly from city to beach, and back again. With an A-list fanbase including Olivia Palermo and Lily Aldridge, Meli Melo pretty much nails bohemian glamour with easy-going luxe designs perfect for plane, bar and lunch with the girls.
Founded in 2014 by Merve and Beste Manastir, the daughters of a leather craftsman, Turkish handbag brand Manu Atelier is top of the list for understated artisan satchel-style cross-body bags. Works for weekend or festival field alike.