The East-West Bag Is Fashion's Favorite Designer Trend

Styles like Louis Vuitton's Pochette Métis and The Row's Idaho Tote have become increasingly popular among celebrities, street style icons, and on the red carpets.

Graphic of East West Bags, including Hailey Bieber and Ayo Edebiri carrying East West Bags
(Image credit: Future)

Some trends are instant hits that take off running. Others are more of a slow burn. They need a few seasons—or even years—to incubate, but they're seemingly everywhere once they reach their prime. The East-West bag trend falls squarely in the latter camp.

The silhouette, named after its elongated and horizontal design, is certainly not novel. Chanel, for one, has long championed the shape. Devotees of the French fashion house consider its East-West Chocolate Bar and now-discontinued Chanel East-West Flap coveted essentials. But with near-constant celebrity co-signs and a slew of other fashion power players presenting East-West styles, the design only recently emerged as an unquestionable, front-running handbag trend.

Today, in every direction you look—not just in a Chanel collector's closet—you'll spot an East-West bag: The Row's EW Margaux Bag and Idaho Tote are permanent street-style fixtures for the fashion set, appearing on city sidewalks almost as often as a pigeon or stray piece of litter. Hailey Bieber alternates between Ferragamo's wide Wanda clutch in Los Angeles and Freja's rectangular Caroline Bag in New York City. And there's Alaïa's Le Teckel, French for "dachshund," which counts Rihanna, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Julianne Moore as fans.

Julianne Moore arrives at the AFI Awards Luncheon at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 12, 2024 in Los Angeles, California

Alaïa's coveted Le Teckel made a red carpet appearance, courtesy of Julianne Moore, at the AFI Awards luncheon in January 2024.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Danielle Gumina, content editor at the luxury accessories resell platform Fashionphile, created a timeline for the recent East-West phenomenon. "The past two years have witnessed a notable uptick in the production of East West bags by ultra-luxury brands, with the silhouette steadily gaining popularity," explains Gumina. She credits Maria Grazia Chiuri for kicking off the design direction. "Dior unveiled the Lady D-Joy as part of their 2022 Cruise collection, presenting a horizontally shaped alternative to their iconic Lady Dior bag."

From there, other luxury labels followed suit by reinventing their signature styles in oblong shapes. Louis Vuitton turned its Pochette Métis into an East-West style in late 2022, and Loewe cropped its beloved Puzzle Tote into a slim and stout iteration a few months later. Then, in Bottega Veneta Pre-Fall '23, the Milanese fashion house released an East-West iteration of its cult-favorite Andiamo Bag. Like its big sister style, the smaller Andiamo amassed quite the celebrity fan club, including Blackpink's Lisa and funny girl Ayo Edebriri.

Ayo Edebiri wearing jeans, a white shirt, tie, trench coat, and carrying Bottega Veneta's East West Andiamo Bag

Ayo Edebiri carrying Bottega Veneta's East-West Andiamo in early February.

(Image credit: Backgrid)

Hermès even threw its hat in the ring: For Spring 2024, the heritage luxury house re-released its Shoulder Birkin, a slouchier, extended iteration of the bag designed by Jean Paul Gaultier in Fall 2004 during his debut as creative director. Bag trends rarely influence the French luxury dynamo, but the re-release offers its loyal customers a fresh yet familiar alternative. A win-win.

Moda Operandi's director of accessories, Ryan Kleman, says the success of a heritage handbag redux lies in the tweaking of an already successful silhouette. "Playing with proportions and exaggerating the dimensions of an East-West style is a straightforward way to give a best-selling bag a new attitude," says Kleman. A traditional boxy Birkin is a firmly established, classic symbol of luxury, while the Shoulder Birkin (a.k.a. the JPG Birkin) is the same but a bit more casual and contemporary.

A model walks down the runway at the Fall 2004 Hermes show in Paris.

The Shoulder Birkin seen on the Hermès's Fall 2004 runway.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Adding to an East-West bag's commercial success is that the stretched style is typically more comfortable to carry. "They're suitable for customers of all heights, and they're not overwhelming," explains Kleman. The base sits flush under the elbow, while its slim construction doesn't encroach into your personal space.

Comfort was, in fact, top of mind for Gaultier, who designed his Birkin so the wearer could tote it around on their shoulders as a reprieve from the original hand-carry-only Birkin. Freja founder Jenny Lei cites similar reasoning behind her soft, slouchy East-West Caroline bag. "[The Caroline's] elongated shape is perfectly balanced with the extra-long shoulder drop, feeling both flattering and sleek while being practical and wearable," Lei tells Marie Claire. The bag designer thoughtfully crafted the slim '90s-inspired style so "it tucks under your arm very securely"—as Mrs. Bieber can attest.

Hailey Bieber in Los Angeles wearing track shorts, a black leather jacket, loafers, socks, and Freja's Caroline Bag.

Bieber took Freja's Caroline bag out for a spin in early April.

(Image credit: Backgrid)

In addition to easy functionality, the longer-in-shape-than-height design creates an unconventional look that adds to its appeal. "In art, the landscape orientation (East-West) connotes calm and stillness, whereas a portrait orientation (North-South) is more active and engaged," Amy Zurek, the designer behind handbag brand Savette, shares. "If you combine this grounded sensibility with the exaggerated elongation, you have a bag that's both relaxed and a bit playful."

Zurek certainly knows the secret to designing an East-West bag. Savette's Slim Symmetry Pochette style has become an essential fashion editor accessory and is rarely in stock.

A model with a white east west bag by Savette

Here, Savette's ultra-wide Slim Symmetry Pochette, an often sold-out style across retailers.

(Image credit: Courtesy of Savette)

Now that you have the context of the trend, it's time to shop for the best East-West bags on the market. Gumina recommends looking at East-West options modeled after iconic designer bags to ensure they remain timeless. She notes Bottega Veneta and Dior are good places to start and shouts out that Chanel's East-West bags "is the second most searched at Fashionphile over the last few months."

If a high-ticket designer purchase isn't in the cards, there are plenty of novel East-West bags that you can reach for. Savette's cult-favorite skinny clutch and Freja's Bieber-approved Caroline, for instance, have perennial appeal. Ahead, we've curated a mix of the bag trends' most coveted heritage and contemporary styles.

Icons Reimagined

Shop the It bags you know and love—only reworked in a shortened, broader, and more stout silhouette.

Newcomer Styles

Meet the new crop of East-West classics.

Emma Childs
Fashion Features Editor

Emma is the fashion features editor at Marie Claire, who writes everything from trend reports to fashion featurettes and long-form profiles. Previously, she was Marie Claire's style editor, writing shopping e-commerce guides, assisting with market for fashion photo shoots, and assigning and editing fashion celebrity news.

Emma also wrote for The Zoe Report, Editorialist, Elite Daily, Bustle, and Mission Magazine. She studied Fashion Studies and New Media at Fordham University Lincoln Center. When she's not writing fashion deep-dives, you'll find her stalking eBay for designer vintage, reading literary fiction on her Kindle, and baking in her tiny NYC kitchen.