It seems like the Y2K tiny bag trend is going absolutely nowhere… so I might as well join them. As a non-binary lesbian, I usually don’t venture too much into the world of femme-leaning handbags, opting for canvas tote bags and fanny packs instead. I style all my fancier fits with my beloved Santos by Monica vegan leather bag, but now I was ready to challenge myself to try out the latest trend and scale it down. Enter AUPEN, the ethical luxurious handbag brand best known for its unique asymmetrical designs and recycled vegan leather material. I tested out one of its signature bags, the Nirvana, spotted on the arms of by celebrities like Taylor Swift, and took it out into the city. Whether I was at a casual date night or a fancy influencer-filled NYFW party, the Nirvana proved to be an easy addition to my outfit thanks to its versatile look, super soft feel, and heavy gold hardware. Plus, we scored an exclusive, super-rare deal for Refinery29 readers only. Now through September 31, get 10% off all AUPEN handbags with the promo code R29AUPEN10. Keep on reading for more details of my love affair with the Nirvana and why exactly this super sale is totally worth it.
Made from recycled vegan leather, the Nirvana is one of AUPEN’s signature bags featuring a unique asymmetrical body, braided strap, and gold hardware. You can choose among nine neutral and vibrant colorways, like Noir, Snow, Earth, Olive, Taupe, Rouge, Ash, Blush, and Flame. If you know me in IRL you’d know how obvious my choice of color really was; this shade of olive is one of my favorite colors for my closet, so it was a no-brainer. It’s easy to style and I don’t already own this shade in handbag form. Whether paired with jeans for a more casual date night or a pastel orange Miss Circle dress for an NYFW kick-off party, this shoulder bag is a new favorite of mine.
The Nirvana is small enough to be considered part of the Y2K shoulder bag trend, but big enough to fit all of my essentials — we’re talking phone, card holder, hand sanitizer, lip gloss, travel-sized setting spray, and my bestie’s AirPods that didn’t fit in her own tiny bag. The vegan leather is super soft and the hardware (specifically the gold bean) has that luxurious heavy feel, the one that makes it obvious this bag will last for years.
I’m more of a tote-bag-and-crossbody-fanny-pack-wearing gay, but I have a real love for luxe bags — in fact, my very first expensive purchase with my full-time-job paycheck was a luxe bag, the Santos by Monica Dolores Square Tote. Still, I had yet to jump to the tiny bag trend, mostly because I carry around way too much to fit into them and I wasn’t sure how comfortable they would feel on my shoulder as I walked around the city. This AUPEN bag truly made me change my mind, though. It was like it was molded perfectly to fit my shoulder, without it slipping or being too tight — all thanks to its specific asymmetrical cut.
If you’re looking for a high-end bag unique enough to stand out among the millions trending right now but classic enough to be easily styled with absolutely everything in your closet, then AUPEN’s Nirvana bag is truly the one — even Taylor Swift’s a fan! I know I’m officially obsessed and will be in the market to buy more to add to my collection. But if the Nirvana isn’t your vibe, worry not, there are plenty of AUPEN bags fit for every closet and every season (and also on sale).
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