The evolution of leather handbags: Some interesting facts to know!

December 06, 2014

Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable - William Pollard

Change is who we are right now. Change is what makes us grow every moment.

Hey guys, wassup!

Since yesterday I’ve been feeling a bit nostalgic. I was reading a lot of stuff about the inception of leather – how it all came about, how leather bags were first made, etc.

So today, I want to go back in time and reminisce about the origin of leather handbags, the designs and how its evolutionary process took place.

Leather Handbags go back to the beginning of time and have become a practicality and a fashion statement for women of all ages.

The story of a leather bag is as interesting as the evolution of human history. Without the skill and know-how, a piece of leather hide was not designed in a sophisticated manner. Yet, human intelligence and knowledge was such that humans managed to pull off great achievements.

Let’s delve into the same and look how things shaped up for it:

Started from the scratch with a pouch!

Earlier, leather was used to make purses and handbags in form of pouches. It was used to carry agricultural seeds, religious items and medicine.

As a matter of fact, in the early 15th century, a leather purse was considered to be a traditional gift from a groom to his bride. The bags were richly embroidered with a design of relationships and love stories.  

14th century Men’s bag. Image courtesy:



In those days, just like today, bags were considered to be a private item, carrying things you need for the day. People used to carry a lot of items, such as playing cards, cosmetic items etc whenever they traveled.

The use of conventional wallets dates back to the time as far as the 16th century. At that time, small leather pouches with a drawstring tie used to be made, that could attach itself to a belt through a loop.  


16th century handbag. Image courtesy:


Interestingly, during the same period, there were ‘scented bags’ that women used to scent their handkerchiefs.

By the late 18th century, women began carrying small embellished drawstring bags or purses called 'ridicules'.


18th Century 'Ridicule'; Image Courtesy:


These bags mainly carried cosmetic items like a hankie, fan, perfume, face powder etc. That, perhaps, is the origin of the Dorothy (or dotty bag).


Dorothy Bag. Courtesy:


Victorian Era

The Victorian phase ushered in a great revolution. Bags matched with the outfit and were made of diverse fabrics.

By the mid 1800’s, bags changed to a popular flat style, that was made in circular or square shape. It was usually decorated with beading and sewing.

Patterns and directions for making these types of purses became popular at that time.


Embroidered bag in early 20th century. Image courtesy:


The handbag had succeeded by then because it had adapted itself to the needs of the time. Seeds and medicines had moved on…hand bags were now holding cigarettes and sunglasses.

On the other hand, shoulder bags became popular during Second World War. The 20th century technology opened up a variety of new textures and materials from synthetics to hand-woven straws.

In a way, the evolution of ladies is similar to the evolution of leather handbags. Centuries ago, ladies were supposed to carry little as possible. However, today’s women are a different lot. We are going out a lot for a longer period of time.

Today, a woman without her handbag feels incomplete. A woman's handbag continues to tell about her own personal tastes and secrets.

Unlike women, men continue to carry everything in their pockets, and men’s clothing, unlike women’s always has pockets. A man wearing a suit and overcoat can easily have ten pockets at his disposal while women in a suit and a jacket might have none, or only a couple shallow decorative pockets. Thus, women need handbags.

Psychology behind Ladies Handbag

Some psychologists think that the way a woman carries her bag is characteristic of her own inner feelings and affections. The term ‘bagology’ was coined in a newspaper article way back in early 1940’s.  The article claimed that the way a woman carriers her purse tells a lot about her.

Handbags do say a lot about a woman. Just as you can tell a lot about a person from their clothing, you can also tell a lot about a person simply from the handbags they carry.

Rustic Town Collection Handbags: Finest quality leather

Motivated by classy, vintage style, we’ve designed best-quality leather bags for women. We make handbags that make a great accessory for your everyday needs. They are good for everyday use such as office, shopping, or going to college.

Why not enhance your style quotient and go for classy, yet trendy vintage-themed handbags?

From artisan large leather handbags that feature interesting owl-shaped design to leather messenger for women, each bag has a different story to tell.

Which story matches yours?

Love, XOXO

PS: Rustic Town Collection presents an exciting Christmas Season Festive Offer! Now shop till you drop at our online leather store and avail flat 15% off on all products! Isn't it unbelievable?

All you have to do is use our exclusive discount coupon code – ‘save15’ while ordering. And viola! You’ll be the proud owner of the finest handmade pure leather bags! But hurry, offer closes till 31st Jan, 2015.


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