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Fair Leather Friends — Mackage Forays Into Handbags For Fall 2013










My favorite winter coats and leather jackets all bear the same name on their labels: Mackage. Over the years, I’ve accrued quite a collection of Mackage outerwear — a double-breasted, black wool coat with elbow-length, bell-shaped sleeves and a dramatic collar lined in a knit fabric; a long-sleeved black one with a built-in leather belt that cinches the waist; a mahogany-colored wool number with a wide collar that can be unzipped so that the collar’s broad flaps fall along the shoulders; and  a black leather biker jacket with pyramid-shaped studs covering the collar. Imagine my raised eyebrow, then, when I discovered that the brand had expanded its range of offerings to include handbags!

As might be expected, the Mackage Fall 2013 handbag collection incorporates the finest leather and suede but the surprising part is just how restrained most of the offerings feel. In an era in which handbags are statement pieces in their own right — think of  Chanel’s hula hoop bag or Lanvin’s color-blocked goat fur doctor bag — it’s surprising that Mackage didn’t include more attention-grabbing designs, more bells and whistles that speak to the edgy, rocker chic, urban cool aesthetic associated with the brand’s clothing. Most of the handbags are, instead, rather simple — mainly neutral colors, clean lines, minimal embellishments, and traditional silhouettes with only the most understated of twists — but there’s a certain beauty to that approach: it allows the leather to function as the center of attention.

On the color front, the collection is extremely limited, with the palette consisting of basic black, a tobacco brown, a deep merlot, and a punchy coral orange, with the occasional pop of cobalt blue. Needless to say, those styles that incorporate that streak of cobalt blue are more likely to stir up consumers’ excitement. Take, for instance, the Mackage Titan Large Cross Body Bag ($650 at Mackage.com), shown at top, a structured leather tote with a snake print-embossed suede accent fabric in cobalt blue along the square front pocket. Measuring 13 1/2″ in width, 13 1/4″ in height, and 4 1/2″ in depth, the tote features double handles at the top for traditional wear and a removable strap measuring 42″ in total length that allows women to wear the bag over the shoulder or across the body. Aside from the snakeskin accent, the other predominant styling detail is the silver-toned, arrow-shaped nickel closure that secures the top flap of that exterior front pocket shut.

Other versions of this bag include the Mackage Rubie Small Crossbody Bag ($295 at Mackage.com), shown fourth and last above  (in black with a tan suede accent and in all black, respectively). This bag has a similar design, save for a few exceptions: first, it’s decidedly smaller, with a width of 7 1/4,” a height of 7,” a depth of 3 1/4,” and a 7″ single handle at the top; second, there’s a single handle as opposed to double handles at the top; third,  the top of the bag isn’t open so that, instead there’s a front flap with a trapezoid shape that covers both the main interior compartment and the exterior pocket along the front.

Meant to be functional but fashionable alternatives for urban women who are constantly on-the-go, the Titan and Rubie purses can both be worn as cross-body bags  — a convenient feature when walking through crowded city streets with a mobile phone in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other.  Similarly, the collection features two fashion-forward interpretations of the handbag and messenger bag. In terms of the former, the collection includes the Mackage Tanner Backpack Bag ($495 at Mackage.com), pictured third above in Merlot. This pebbled leather backpack possesses none of the childlike and collegiate qualities associated with the bag silhouette favored by school-aged children and outdoorsy adventurers. Instead, it’s sleek and sophisticated, with a snake print-embossed , fold-over suede flap along the top; a leather drawstring closure; and two leather straps that can be secured in place with gold-toned metal grommets. Similarly, the messenger bag silhouette feels extremely luxurious. Shown seventh above, the pebbled leather  Mackage Carrie Large Messenger Bag in Black ($450 at Mackage.com) features a guitar-like shape, with sides that slope outward, widening as one’s gaze moves downward and rounded edges — a welcome deviation from the standard rectangular shapes used for messenger bags. The fold-over front flap, meanwhile, features a snake print-embossed suede fabric  and a single handle along the top for when you wish to make the bag appear dressier. Measuring 16 1/2″ in width, 12 1/4″ in height, and 4 3/4″ in depth, this bag will accommodate your laptop, books, makeup bag, and more, and the removable 50″-long strap will allow you to simply sling the bag across your body and get moving.

Those who prefer slightly slouchier silhouettes and a more traditional tote form might gravitate to the Mackage Raffie Large Bag ($450 at Mackage.com) shown fifth above in Merlot and eight above in Coral. This tote features double carry handles with straps that extend down the front of the bag and are accented with flat pin closure studs, a removable and adjustable shoulder strap, and a asymmetrical sides that taper inward as one’s gaze moves down so that the top edges fold over a bit when the bag isn’t completely full.

If, unlike me, you don’t carry your entire life in your bag, then you’ll likely be driven to the smaller purses in the collection. Styles include the Mackage Aden Small Shopper Bag ($395 at Mackage.com), shown second above in Coral, a pebbled leather number with suede and vachetta trim, double carry handles, and a silhouette reminiscent of a bowling bag but way more streamlined.  The slightly larger Mackage Deva Handle Bag ($430 at Mackage.com), pictured sixth above in Tobacco, features more of a barrel bag shape (albeit not exactly cylindrical). Crafted with pebbled leather and trimmed with suede, this bag measures 14 1/2″ in width, 8 1/2″ in height, and 6 1/4″ in depth, plus it incorporates two 11.5″-tall handles and a removable 35″-long strap for wear as a cross-body style.

What do you think? Would you splurge on one of these Mackage bags?

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