Buying Guide for Leather Purses
Why buy a leather purse?
The simple answer to this question is that leather is a durable material. It can often stand up to daily wear and use better than faux leather, which makes for a fantastic investment. This is because leather is a material that tends to get better with age—as long as you treat it right. And with a wide array of colors, styles, and finishes to choose from, you won’t suffer from a lack of options.
What should you consider when buying a leather purse?
- Materials: While manufacturers can’t claim a product is genuine leather if it’s not, that doesn’t mean that brands don’t casually use the term when in fact, a bag isn’t genuine leather. If you’re vegan or dislike the idea of using real animal skins, this isn’t an issue. Just know that you’ll need to read the product details closely to ensure that it clarifies if it’s “vegan leather,” “PVC leather,” or some other faux alternative. However, if you have your heart set on genuine leather, you will need to read the descriptions carefully. Also, note that there are many different grades of “genuine leather.” So, when in doubt, follow the hand feel test. A premium genuine leather product won’t feel hard, dry, or like plastic, but a cheaper leather item might. And often (as is the case with luxury leather goods), the leather will feel soft, supple, and moist.
- Style: Just like any other fashion category, there are a wide array of leather bag styles. This can include a clutch, top strap, crossbody, satchel, Boston bags, carryalls, and totes. Consider how you plan to use your bag and what items you normally need to carry with you, and plan accordingly.
- Design: Similar to style, the sky’s the limit for leather bag designs. You can opt for a solid color, patterned leather, or a bag with embellishments. This can range from metal hardware, bold accents, or even accessories like charms and built-in key fob holders.
- Price: Leather is one material where you get what you pay for. If you have your heart set on a genuine leather handbag, but your budget is limited, don’t be surprised if it’s not made from the best quality leather. But, if you look at a good leather handbag as an investment with a budget to match, you can find something worthy of your money.
What’s the difference between vegan leather and genuine leather?
Vegan leather is a faux leather alternative often made from PU (polyurethane) or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) treated with options such as vegetable dye and printing to mimic the look and feel of genuine leather. It’s not made from animals and is usually a cruelty-free alternative for those who don’t want to compromise their ethics. Meanwhile, genuine leather is derived from animals. Usually, cows, lamb, and even exotic animals like alligators or lizards, depending on local regulations where skins are sourced. But similar to vegan leather, it’s just as common for cow or lambskins to be tanned to mimic exotic skins like ostrich and crocodile if using those genuine skins is prohibited by local laws.
Our Picks for the Best Leather Purses
Realer PU Leather Shoulder Bag
A durable, roomy tote with a matching set.
Pros: A good roomy leather tote is a must for everyday use. The Realer hobo-style tote features multiple internal compartments and a matching zippered wristlet and comes in an astounding range of shades with more than 40 options to choose from. And the PU leather makes it a durable option with a softer texture to mimic the feel of premium genuine leather.
Cons: While affordable, PU leather handbags are known for needing to be aired out when you first receive them. Also, the pocket construction may be inconsistent with seams coming undone.
Bottom Line: If you want the look and feel of leather for a fraction of the price, this PU leather hobo tote is a great starter bag that can work for daily use.
Estalon Leather Crossbody Purse for Women
An affordable genuine leather crossbody.
Pros: If you have your heart set on a genuine leather crossbody, the Estalon purse is available in 11 colors. It’s made from 100% oil-rich genuine leather that they promise will get softer and smoother with use. This small crossbody is designed with three exterior zip compartments, one main interior zip compartment, and an internal bill and mobile holder. And the adjustable strap allows you to convert this from a shoulder bag to a crossbody.
Cons: The biggest concern is that it’s stiffer leather. Additionally, the strap often comes off because it is glued to the main body rather than being attached by stitches.
Bottom Line: Entry-level genuine leather purse shoppers will like the affordability of this crossbody bag.
YALUXE RFID Real Leather Clutch Wristlet
A simple clutch with RFID protection.
Pros: These days, fashion and function can go hand-in-hand to protect your sensitive information while you look stylish. The YALUXE Genuine Leather RFID Clutch Wristlet does exactly that. Available in more than 35 different colors and prints, this roomy clutch uses RFID technology to protect hackers from stealing your financial details. Meanwhile, the oversized clutch can also double as an interior organizational solution for a larger tote bag.
Cons: With an affordable price point like this, don’t be surprised that the genuine cowhide leather doesn’t mimic the hand feel you get with a premium brand.
Bottom Line: If you need a basic clutch that offers interior storage while protecting your financial information, this is a wise investment.
CLUCI Women's Fashion Leather Large Backpack
A smart choice for commutes or vacations.
Pros: Not everyone wants a little purse that can barely hold a tube of lipstick. Whether you’re heading to the office or want to sightsee on vacation while looking stylish, the CLUCI PU leather backpack is a great option. With a wide range of colors to choose from, this pick features a roomy interior with an interior zippered and slot pocket and exterior pockets that can hold water bottles and other essentials. Plus, the smart anti-theft design protects your valuables.
Cons: The most frequent concerns are around broken zippers or zippers where the teeth opened prematurely.
Bottom Line: If you need to travel or want a roomy backpack for your daily commute that isn’t going to attract thieves, the anti-theft design is a smart choice.
Coach Pennie Leather Crossbody Shoulder Purse
A premium genuine leather purse designed to last.
Pros: Crossbody bags need not be tiny. And if you need proof, look at Coach’s gorgeous medium-sized Pennie leather shoulder purse. It comes with a top strap to carry as a shoulder bag which can also convert into a crossbody thanks to the included adjustable strap. With a roomy interior and inside zip pocket, you’ll get two external flap pockets and the iconic Coach hardware.
Cons: Budget shoppers may find the initial cost fairly steep.
Bottom Line: Although pricey, the Coach Pennie shoulder bag is a solid investment made from premium genuine leather and is designed to last. A roomy interior combines with additional internal pockets for better organization as well.
There are so many options when picking a good leather purse that it can be hard to make a choice. But know that this is an accessory worth the investment, as when you pick the right one, they’re designed to last and can make a strong statement with your ensemble.