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Botkier for Nine West Handbag Collection — Upscale Americana

When you think of Americana motifs, images of flag prints, wooden cottages, patchwork quilts, red-and-white stripes, five-point stars, bald eagles, cowboys, denim everything, and apple pies, Native American headdresses, and even rockabilly style pin-ups might dance in your head. But truth be told, there’s so many other ways to capture this nostalgic notions of patriotism, to convey a fascination with the American frontier era, and to tap into a distinctly American sensibility. In many ways, this is precisely what Nine West has sought to do with its Vintage America collection of shoes and handbags — which, this season, includes a co-branded, limited-edition collection designed in collaboration with New York-based handbag designer Monica Botkier. The Botkier for Nine West handbag collection, then, fuses together a luxurious European aesthetic with a Southwestern vibe and a hint of Bohemian charm.

Among the more structured bags in the collection is the Botkier for Nine West Jackson ($295 at NineWest.com), pictured at top in turquoise leather,  a traditional satchel measuring 11″ in width, 8″ in length, and 4″ in depth and featuring two top handles with a 3″ drop along with a detachable shoulder strap that offers a 20″ drop. At the base of the handle bars, you’ll find two pocket-like pieces of leather featuring diamond shaped stitching accents. While the Jackson’s shape is rather classic and understated, the leather’s rich turquoise hue recalls the jewelry made by the Zuni, Navajo, and Hopi tribes. Another rather structured option is the Botkier for Nine West Isla ($340 at NineWest.com), shown third from top in Stone Leather, which mirrors the Jackson in terms of size, measuring 11″ in length, 8″ in height, and 2″ in depth. Equipped with an adjustable shoulder strap with a total drop length of 18″, the Isla’s leather features a tumbled, almost wrinkled texture that gives the piece a sense of history and a slight ruggedness that contrasts its overall classical look. The triangular front flap, meanwhile, features a keyhole cut-out — another detail that could be interpreted as alluding to Southwestern culture as many of the kivas  used by ancient Pueblo indians to conduct religious rituals were built in this distinctive shape.

Other pieces, meanwhile, more overtly recall Southwestern culture — chief among them the Botkier for Nine West Navajo ($225 at NineWest.com), pictured fourth from top. This tote features two thin leather straps and is made of a striped fabric reminiscent of the patterns woven into Navajo blankets. From the vertical stripes in varying widths to the diamond-shaped details along the ribbon-like strip at the center of the tote and the thin zig-zagging lines in between the stronger bars of color, this tote pays homage to the now iconic textiles woven by the indigenous people of the Southern Plains since the 1700s. Measuring 1/2″ in length, 14″ in width, and 4″ in depth, the Botkier for Nine West Navajo tote is roomy enough to carry books, files, makeup bags, and all the knickknacks my fellow bag ladies tote around with them at all times.

Similarly, the  Botkier for Nine West Jimmy ($495 at NineWest.com), pictured second from top in Honey Leather, and the Botkier for Nine West Leon ($495 at NineWest.com), shown last above in Black Suede, both nod to Native American culture by incorporating leather or suede fringe like that used in indigenous garments ranging from vests to dresses, jackets, and moccasins both as a form of decoration and as a means of shedding moisture quicker (the fringed leather yielded greater movement which, in turn, allowed water to trickle down its length instead of being absorbed by the fabric). Both of these pieces measure 9″ in length, 7″ in height, and 4″ in depth and feature adjustable buckle shoulder straps with 22″ drops. Furthermore, both feature top flaps with rounded edges that create a crescent-moon silhouette, the borders of which are adorned with knotted strips of leather that dangle loosely as fringe. And, for a bit of a rocker edge, these top flaps are adorned with hammered gold-toned studs and cut-outs overlays in decorative shape. The Jimmy bag, then, features triangular and arrow-shaped cut-outs along its heavily studded top flap, while the Leon features suede appliqués in swirling, almost-paisley-like shapes, the edges of which are adorned with gold-toned studs.

Even the Trigger, one of Botkier’s most famous handbag shapes, makes an appearance in this collection in the form of the Botkier for Nine West Trigger Moto ($245 at NineWest.com), shown second below, but this time the piece winks to Americana motifs by boasting a denim blue-colored leather exterior.

Though pretty and consistent with both brands’ aesthetic, the one drawback of this collection is its price range: the cheapest handbag in the collection still bears a $225 price tag, which is hardly what Nine West customers expect to spend on their wares. After all, part of Nine West’s appeal is its reputation for offering stylish, on-trend, modern footwear and handbags crafted with great attention to detail yet priced significantly lower than the competition. As cute as these bags may be, then, there’s little reason why someone would choose to splurge on a Botkier for Nine West bag when, for the same amount, he/she could purchase a Botkier bag that’s likely to be a bit more memorable and distinctive. Personally, if I have over $200 to spend on a handbag, I’d rather it be on something like the cyan blue Botkier Lucy cross-body bag or the merlot-and-hunter-green Eden satchel as opposed to one of the bags pictured here.

That being said, if you’re a sucker for all things reminiscent of the frontier era or imbued with a Bohemian vibe, make sure to check out all the pieces at NineWest.com

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