I Took Balenciaga’s Most Viral Bags for a Test-Drive—These Are Worth the Hype

When you think of truly iconic bags, the brands that are likely to come to mind first are ones like Chanel, Hermès, and Gucci. Typically, Cristóbal Balenciaga’s namesake fashion house isn’t at the top of the list. But while the classic handbag brands are certainly among our favorites, it’s Balenciaga that’s responsible for most of this year’s buzziest accessories, from the Y2K-favorite Le Cagole to Kim Kardashian’s go-to Hourglass

To celebrate Balenciaga’s subtle dominance in the bag department, I called on luxury-resale site Rebag to help me take a few of the brand’s best styles, from former creative director Nicolas Ghesquière’s City bag to Demna Gvasalia’s Hourglass, out for a spin IRL. See what Balenciaga’s top bags look like in the wild and shop the brand’s standout styles below. 

In the early ’00s, no bag was more ubiquitous among the street style set than the Balenciaga City bag, otherwise known as the Lariat or Motorcycle bag. Introduced by Ghesquière—who became the artistic director of womenswear at Louis Vuitton in 2013—in 2001, the bag was initially dismissed by his bosses, who insisted that the slouchy, structureless style wouldn’t garner acclaim. Despite that, he convinced them to manufacture a handful of styles, and the City bag blew up, soon becoming the It style for everyone from Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen to Kate Moss. 

First introduced in the brand’s Pre-Fall ’21 lookbook, Balenciaga’s Gossip line is among the brand’s more understated styles, especially compared to the tassel-embellished Le Cagole and City bags. This has made it a favorite for Hailey Bieber, who wore the bag to one of Justin Bieber’s concerts back in January. The timeless shoulder bag’s most dominating feature is the double-B logo, which sits atop one large flap closure. 

No bag has been embraced by the fashion set—including both celebrities and influencers—in 2022 quite like Balenciaga’s Le Cagole Shoulder Bag. It features all the tassels and metal embellishments of the original City bags, all wrapped up in a tiny, easy-to-throw-on shape. Spotted on Dua Lipa, Rosalía, Bieber, Elsa Hosk, and so many more, the Y2K-inspired purse is truly making the rounds. 

With a superfan in Kardashian, Balenciaga’s Hourglass bag was destined for success. But the reality TV star turned entrepreneur isn’t the only A-lister to be seen carrying the popular bag shape. Rihanna, Lipa, and Bieber have given it their coveted stamps of approval too. 

A follow-up to Balenciaga’s best-selling Cagole bag, the Lindsay formally debuted with a campaign starring none other than Bella Hadid, who was wearing nothing but leather cut-away pants. The cool girl–approved style takes cues from the ’90s and early aughts, featuring a structured shape, a chain-link shoulder strap, and oversize buckle closures. Chic? Yes. A must-own piece? Also yes. 

When I tell you that I received so many compliments when I pulled this mini gray version of Balenciaga’s Neo City bag out of its dust bag at the office, I’m 100% holding back. In reality, the reaction was 10 times that. Essentially the modernized version of Ghesquière’s City bag from ’01, the Neo City bag features all of the same tassels and embellishments as the early-aughts favorite with a slightly more structured and architectural shape. My favorite? The micro-mini style

To be honest, before I saw Balenciaga’s take on the basket bag, I was under the impression that the style was on its way out. After having a serious moment in the late ’10s, woven totes had begun to feel a bit stale. I should have known that all they needed was Gvasalia’s genius touch. 

Ever since Balenciaga’s XX Flap Bag was spotted at Revolve Festival on Kendall Jenner (paired with Marine Serre’s logo-covered gloves and a mini sundress), I knew that the ’90s-inspired shoulder bag would be a heavy hitter. 

Balenciaga’s Downtown bag perfectly combines the shape of the Hourglass with the unstructured slouchiness of the City, making it perfect for anyone who’s drawn to both but can’t exactly justify buying two Balenciaga bags in the same season. (I feel you.) 

If you prefer something more casual and low-key, Balenciaga’s Cabas line is for you. Featuring the brand name in all-capital letters on the front, the canvas bag is perfect for toting around your essentials on a busy day, all the while looking wholly put-together and on-trend. 

Next: 8 Newer Designer Bags I’m Starting to See Everywhere