Best affordable designer bags: 18 styles under £1000, as chosen by our fashion expert

I've found the very best designer bags under £1000, proving affordable designer bags do exist

best designer bags under £1000 - Ganni, Loewe, Strathberry, Mulberry, Chloe, DeMellier bags
(Image credit: Ganni, Loewe, Strathberry, Mulberry, Chloe, DeMellier)

When deciding to splash the cash on a new bag, it can be tricky to know where to start. We're not talking big money names like Chanel or Hermes here - we're talking best designer bags under £1000 that are both affordable and worth the investment.

Some of the best designer bags can cost several thousands of pounds, but you don't have to spend quite that much. If you fancy trying the pre-loved market, there are plenty of discounted Louis Vuitton bags out there, or you could shop our three figure options instead. And when you consider the cost per carry, you could get yourself a Stella McCartney Falabella bag for under £2 a day for a year. Girl maths!

The cost of luxury goods just seems to be increasing every year, but in our list of 18 options, I've found some real classics. I combined ever-popular designs like the Mulberry Bayswater - first launched in 2003 and still going strong two decades later - with trending items like the Ganni Bou bag that's been a sell out success on the brand's website.

Best designer bags under £1000

From the more minimalist Quiet Luxury handbags to colour pops and even leopard print, there are plenty of designer bag options under £1000 to snap up this season. As with all designer handbags, if you're after an everyday style, lean towards neutral colourways of black, tan, and navy, as these hues will go with everything so will become part of your year-round capsule wardrobe.

There are some very stylish luxury bags out there, with plenty even coming in at under £500 or £300. Brands like Mulberry, Gucci and Chloe are at the top end of our budget, but there are pieces by names you'll definitely know - like Longchamp and Marc Jacobs - and by names you need to know, like Strathberry and DeMellier to consider too.

What should you look for in designer bags under £1000?

Timeless designs and brand staples will have the most longevity and are likely to also hold their value at resale. But of course the quality and fabric are key to finding a bag that will last.

Luc Goidadin, Creative Director at Smythson, says: "our range of leather prioritises being supple and soft to the touch, to feel decadent and luxurious. For us, endurance is key - we design pieces to last, with even the meticulous details considered by our skilled craftspeople."

Strathberry founder Leeanne Hundleby agrees: "The focus for me is always on the quality and craftsmanship of a bag. First, I’d look for quality indicators for the leather used, for example if the brand can demonstrate that their leathers come from LWG (Leather Working Group) certified tanneries, this guarantees an ethical and responsible making standard."

She goes on to say "secondly, I’d look to where the bag was made. European centres of leather crafting excellence have been established over centuries with the skills passed down through generations - these skills simply cannot be easily learned or replicated elsewhere."

There's been a huge rise in mid-range brands in the last few years, but don't discount a brand just because you haven't heard of it. In terms of quality they'll very often feel just as luxurious as the super famous fashion houses, just do your research and read the reviews.

Best designer bags under £1000

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Best designer bags under £500

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Best designer bags under £300

Which brands of designer handbags are most affordable?

There's no doubt about it, a designer bag is an investment piece. A piece of arm candy real estate can set you back hundreds, if not thousands of pounds, and for many, this luxury accessory just isn't an option. While designer bags used to be one of the many entry points to a label, they're often now considered integral to a designer brand's identity season on season. However, all is not lost and there are some more affordable designer bags available in the UK.

The best Michael Kors bags, as well as labels such as Kate Spade and Coach tend not to push the envelope above £500, making them some of the most attainable designer brands on the market.

If you can stretch a little further, many designer brands have options for under £1000, with Saint Laurent delivering options around the £800-£900 mark, although many of their key pieces do go over this.

In order to find the best cheap designer bags in the UK, don't be afraid to hit up the best designer outlet stores, as this is an easy way of picking up labels for less. In addition to this, look to Black Friday sales, or discount websites such as The Outnet to help you get that designer look for less.

What to consider when buying a designer bag under £1000

  • Practicality: One of the first questions you need to ask is will this bag fit with my lifestyle? If you need a hands-free style then a crossbody is a must, or if you're always at fancy events, a clutch should be high up on your shopping list. Leeanne says: "the level of skill and time which goes into crafting a design that truly has the customer in mind can’t be understated in its importance: adjustable or interchangeable straps, chains designed not to catch in your hair or clothes, silhouettes that fit the essentials but aren’t too bulky against the body…. there are so many invisible aspects of a design that deliver a truly luxurious experience that lasts far beyond the initial purchase."
  • Size: Bags are not one size fits all, so ask yourself whether the bag fits everything you need. Are you carrying a laptop around all the time? Fitting in everything a young child might need? Or are you more of a keys and lipstick kind of minimalist?
  • Colour: Think about what colour suits me? as well as the hues you already have in your wardrobe. You don't necessarily have to match, but to get the maximum wear out of a bag, it needs to fit seamlessly with what you already have.
  • Style: Does it match your style personality? Leather is of course the classic way to go, but if you've been coveting Loewe's raffia bag for the last few years it's unlikely you're going to change your mind any time soon.
  • Aftercare: Some brands like Mulberry, Longchamp and Smythson offer repair services if anything goes wrong with your bag.
  • Price: Like a 'forever home', if you're dream bag isn't too much over £1000, it might be worth saving up that extra bit longer. Buying two or three more affordable options might just add up to the one that you really want.

How do I care for a designer bag?

With the right care, designer bags should last you years, or even decades. Strathberry founder Leeanne gives us her tips on caring for your new bag: "taking time to care for your bag is important to ensure you’ll be able to treasure it for years. We hope our customers buy for life."

She goes on to recommend "gently taking care of the leather with a soft cloth and leather gel. Storing it in its dustbag when you’re not wearing it also helps to protect the materials and hardware. I think taking these steps will ensure your bag stands the test of time and can be cherished for years to come."

Our experts:

Guy and Leeanne Hundleby
Leeanne Hundleby

Strathberry is an Edinburgh-based and internationally known brand specialising in luxury leather goods, founded in 2013 by husband-and-wife team Guy and Leeanne Hundleby. 

Luc Goidadin

Formerly Burberry's Chief Design Officer, Luc has been Creative Director of Smythson - a brand that represents over 130 years of British craftsmanship - since 2018.

Caroline Parr
Digital Fashion Editor

Caroline is Digital Fashion Editor for woman&home, and has been a fashion writer and editor for ten years.

After graduating from the London College of Fashion, she has spent the last decade tracking down and writing about celebrity outfits, covering events ranging from the Met Gala to the King’s Coronation.

She has an encyclopedic knowledge of brands, but always likes to know about new and under the radar labels. She’s originally from Liverpool, and outside of work, her great loves are leopard print and her lively but adorable cocker spaniel, Ghillie.