Announcing Finalists in the Independent Handbag Designer Awards (Photos)


An artisan-made crochet and aluminum soda pop bag. Photo: courtesy Handbag Designer 101.

More than 1,000 independent handbag designers submitted their designs for a chance to win the esteemed 2011 Independent Handbag Designer Award hosted by InStyle and Handbag Designer 101.

I'm on the preliminary judging panel and we met earlier this month to narrow down the submissions. I saw a lot of innovative, creative, and weird bags. Here are the best bags out of the finalists who made the cut:

emma grady photo

Photo: Past Fashion Future

It took us more than five hours to view all of the applicants but we eventually narrowed them down. Fortunately, I was sitting pretty in a playful no-waste skirt in Ikat fabric made by my friend Tara St. James, winner of the 2011 Ecco Domani for her fashion label Study NY. (You can find the skirt in-store at Bird or International Playground.)

Among the finalists in the Green and Socially Responsible Handbag category, the following bags rise above the rest:

jess rizzuti photo

Photo: courtesy Handbag Designer 101.

The "Fiona Cork" bag by Jess Rizzuti New York, which has a cork body, burlap handle and cotton lining. I like how the wavy pattern compliments the texture of the cork and though it looks like it's made with natural materials, it looks more glam than "crunchy granola."

the sway handbag photo

Photo: courtesy Handbag Designer 101.
The Sway's "Marlo" bag is a feast for the eyes. The statement bag is made with recycled leather scraps and recycled cotton linings.

mei vintage photo

Photo: courtesy Handbag Designer 101.

This chic clutch by Mei Vintage handbags is made with leather remnants and lined with hemp fabric.

View the finalists across all categories, including InStyle Red Carpet Ready Evening Bag, Best Student Made Handbag Inspired by the Colors of vitaminwater, and more, in the video below.

Video: YouTube

Now here's the fun part, you get to vote for the Audience Fan Favorite Award. Visit InStyle to vote now and keep tuned: the winners will be announced on June 15th, the night of the Fifth Annual Independent Handbag Designer Awards at the Time & Life Building in New York City; I'll be there, tweeting for sure.

Which bag do you like the most? Tell us in the comment section below.

Like this post? Follow Emma Grady, an award-winning fashion writer, stylist, and the founder and editor of, on Facebook and Twitter.
More Green Handbags
3 Must-Have Green Handbags for Fall 2010 (Photos)
Buy Green: Women's Handbags
Make an Edgy Handbag from Soda Cans

Related Content on