4 Australian designers show us their essential summer handbags



The essentials only.

When I started researching the origins of the phrase ‘You can tell a lot about a woman by the contents of her purse’, my best guess was an old Hollywood movie or a sleek but avant-garde royal (think to Princess Diana).

After a bit of scouring the internet, it appears the phrase is actually a quote from the 2004 computer-animated Disney smash hit, The Incredibles, which I re-watch again (mainly for Edna Mode). Is it unexpected? Maybe a little – but Mr. Incredible is not wrong. If our inherent human curiosity and British Vogue ‘In the Bag ‘series we have learned everything is that we love to learn the contents of other people’s handbags.

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It’s a tangible glimpse into the inner workings of our lives, a leather (or nylon, if you like that) collection point that captures the fallout these days – ticket stubs, candy wrappers, half-written notes and loyalty cards.

Personally, I tried (and failed) to be the minimalist woman who only wears a micro bag and a pair of sunglasses (how?), But ended up freezing, thirsty or wearing whatever that I needed in my hands. Instead, I embraced my role as a friend who has it all – tissues, extra masks, blotting papers, and several packs of gum. My bag is heavy but I am definitely appreciated.

So when global label Ecco Leather Goods launched its new line of innovative accessories, the question arose: What are cool Australian creatives carrying in their bags? To find out, Ecco sent four local cool people a durable selection of his most recent collection, along with a disposable film camera to frankly capture a day in life. Read on to find out what some of our favorite designers and artists wear in their handbags.

Emma Hollingsworth, artist and founder of Mulganai

My only criteria for an everyday handbag is that it is large enough to hold my work essentials without being bulky. If I feel like spending a day working on administering a cafe, the Pine Green / Pink Color Contact Tote Bag fits my iPad, phone, and notepad, as well as all of them. my personal items. I always have sunglasses, a bottle of water, perfume, lip balm, a mask and a book. I also added an electric blue ‘E’ charm because I love the personal touch!

For night out and weekend business, the Contact Lilac Marble Drawstring Bag is easy and fun. The strap is great for carrying over my shoulder during the day and I use the small handles for a dressier vibe. Naturally, I had to have the matching phone pouch – the drawstring details make me feel like a mini version of my bag. If you are a constant phone dropper, this is also super protective and functional.


Fatuma Ndenzako, designer and co-founder of Collective Closets

I’m a fan of big bags (I can’t do the micro trend) and the Ecco contact tote is a perfect size. I can literally fit my whole life in this (necessary) tote; I felt like a sleek, chic, and cool version of Mary Poppins walking to this picnic. My friends were obsessed with the texture of this pumice leather – it’s so buttery and soft.

I have to fill my bag with the items I call “me essential”. As a mom, small business owner, and generally busy person, these are the items I always have with me (yes, everything). My ‘me essentials’ include Aesop Body Oil for smooth, hydrated skin, Collective Closets Mask, Bottle Opener (cheeky), Mascara, Uno Cards for hours of fun, black pen (j ‘always write long to-do lists, love to cross things off), camera, blush, blush brush and my hand-woven Bologna African fan (for some fresh air).


Ashiya Omundsen, designer and co-founder of Par Moi

For my everyday bag, I like to keep it simple. The Textureblock Saddle Bag in Black is easy to style and a perfect medium size. I like a magnetic closure for quick access to my handbag accessories and the interior sections prevent any tangling.

I still have my phone and keys (an Ecco ‘A’ key fob attached, of course), a hair clip in case I need to tame the mane, my camera aim and shoot (this doesn’t not come out all the time but it’s always with me just in case), Mecca Cosmetica sunscreen, La Roche-Posay lip balm (this one has a few chew marks thanks to my dog), lipstick Bobbi Brown and some additional Par Moi masks.

@by me

Gemma Lyndon, designer and founder of Raie glasses

My handbag accompanies me everywhere; I currently work from home and he is always by my side at all times! The number one saviors in my bag are my Organized Life journal and a pen – they keep my productivity on track (with the help of my phone). Every morning I spend 15-20 minutes planning my day in chunks. This is what works best for me and it helps me stay accountable. I’m a pen-and-paper girl, nothing is more satisfying than crossing off a task when it’s done.

I love good podcasts – especially when I’m working – so I always have my AirPods with me. My favorite tunes right now are Delightfully Ella and Valley of the Spirit (yes, I’m a self-help junkie). I also have The Handmaid’s Tale book that I really appreciate. Whenever I have a break from work I like to cycle and lie on the beach or on the grass and read. I always come back refreshed and energized when I force myself to take a break.

When I leave my home office, I pack my bag full of the essentials. I bring a mask, hand sanitizer, sunglasses (of course, I always have a plain black pair with me. I keep the fun ones for the afternoon wine bars) and my products. Beauty favorites: Fenty Beauty lip gloss, mini hairbrush and tint serum.


Buy Ecco’s full range of innovative leather goods here.


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