How Vera Bradley’s Handbags and Purses Became Famous

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Vera Bradley is one of the most loved – and recognizable – brands in the United States. You can’t go through an airport or a college campus without seeing someone carrying a Vera Bradley tote.

The brand has inspired a life-long devotion from its loyal customers, who often take their first steps into the brand during college.

Vera Bradley is one of the most loved and recognized bag brands, thanks to its feminine floral and paisley prints Vera Bradley is one of the most loved and recognized bag brands, thanks to its feminine floral and paisley prints (Credit: Helen89 / Shutterstock)

Recent years have seen Vera Bradley bounce back at a time when other heritage brands have struggled.

There have been collaborations with Disney, Harry Potter, and Crocs. Vera Bradley has even partnered with household brands, such as Tupperware and Coleman.

What makes Vera Bradley so popular? What is Vera Bradley’s most sought-after bags? We’re covering everything you need to know about this iconic American brand.

Meet Vera Bradley

Friendship sits at the heart of the Vera Bradley story. The brand was started by Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller after a vacation in 1982 inspired them to shake up the world of boring black luggage with fun and feminine prints.

The company was named after Barbara’s mother with the original logo created by her teenage daughter and the business operating from their basement.

Friends Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller founded Vera Bradley in 1982 after "recognizing a lack of feminine-looking luggage for women"Friends Barbara Bradley Baekgaard and Patricia R. Miller founded Vera Bradley in 1982 after “recognizing a lack of feminine-looking luggage for women” (Credit: Vera Bradley)

Vera Bradley quickly built a brand identity around its colorful fabrics and quirky prints. The company describes that a “female-led ingenuity and the desire to make the world a brighter place remain at the heart of the company today.”

The brand’s distinctive paisley and floral patterns are inspired by French Provencal country fabrics. Vera Bradley first became popular after a Good Morning America feature before it started selling bags online in 2004.

Vera Bradley + VB Cares

As a female-founded company, it’s no surprise that Vera Bradley has a philanthropist side. The brand runs ‘VB Cares’ that works with local organizations to build better communities and support issues such as breast cancer research and sustainability.

Aside from raising funds for breast cancer research, Vera Bradley's VB Cares also supports communities and helps school children around the worldAside from raising funds for breast cancer research, Vera Bradley’s VB Cares also supports communities and helps school children around the world (Credit: Vera Bradley)

Vera Bradley focuses heavily on raising funds for breast cancer research. The company’s co-founders began using Vera Bradley to raise funds for breast cancer research after the death of a friend and one of the company’s first sales representatives.

They later established the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer in 1998.

Vera Bradley’s 4 Most Popular Bags

Like every iconic brand, Vera Brand has a series of classic bags. These are the silhouettes that are instantly recognizable and come back season after season.

Not sure where to start your Vera Bradley collection? Try these four popular Vera Bradley bags!

1. Campus Backpack, $125 on Amazon

Vera Bradley’s best-selling bag is the “Campus Backpack.” It’s not only popular with students but commuters and office workers alike. This backpack is all-in-one that will take you from a weekend trip to your next red-eye flight.

Made of recycled cotton, the Vera Bradley Campus Backpack boasts multiple compartments for all your school essentials and moreMade of recycled cotton, the Vera Bradley Campus Backpack boasts multiple compartments for all your school essentials and more

2. Large Travel Duffel Bag, $120 on Amazon

One of the Vera Bradley bags you’ll spot most often is the large travel duffel bag. It’s the brand’s OG product and will have you ditching your boring black suitcase for good.

Perfect for a long weekend or adventure getaway, Vera Bradley's Large Travel Duffel will help you pack in stylePerfect for a long weekend or adventure getaway, Vera Bradley’s Large Travel Duffel will help you pack in style

3. RFID Little Hipster, $70 on Amazon

This small crossbody bag sits at a budget-friendly price point of $70. It’s a classic ‘wallet on a chain’ style and made of recycled cotton.

The Little Hipster compact crossbody bag provides RFID protection for your debit and credit cardsThe Little Hipster compact crossbody bag provides RFID protection for your debit and credit cards

4. Vera Tote Bag, $120 on Amazon

Everyone needs a Mary Poppins tote. The “Vera” tote bag is designed to hold everything from protein bars to laptops and makeup bags. It’s the fuss-free tote that you’ll never leave home without.

The Vera Tote Bag is large enough for everyday use—whether you are heading to work, on a weekend getaway, going to a party, or travelingThe Vera Tote Bag is large enough for everyday use—whether you are heading to work, on a weekend getaway, going to a party, or traveling

Vera Bradley Collaborations

It’s not unusual for companies to start lacking momentum, especially when their core demographic finds a new home with competing brands. Vera Bradley is staying relevant by focusing on collaborations to attract new customers to the brand.

One of Vera Bradley’s most successful collaborations is with Disney. The collaboration is “inspired by Vera Bradley’s signature optimistic style and Disney’s most-beloved characters.”

The Disney x Vera Bradley collaboration has gone through several collections – ranging from classic characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse to fairytale movies like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast.

The Vera Bradley x Disney collaboration features everyone's most-loved Disney characters on Vera Bradley's signature stylesThe Vera Bradley x Disney collaboration features everyone’s most-loved Disney characters on Vera Bradley’s signature styles

Most Vera Bradley collaborations lean heavily on the brand’s best-selling styles, including the Campus Backpack and Travel Duffel Bag.

The success of the Disney x Vera Bradley collaboration breathed new life into the brand, which has since collaborated with Star Wars and Harry Potter.

Not a movie fan? Check our Vera Bradley’s collaboration with Sea Bags, Coleman, or New Hope Girls to support their philanthropic work.

Vera Bradley has collaborated with other brands, including Sea Bags, Coleman, and TupperwareVera Bradley has collaborated with other brands, including Sea Bags, Coleman, and Tupperware

Where Are Vera Bradley Bags Made?

Although Vera Brand is an American brand that designs its products in Fort Wayne, most of its products are made in China.

For years, roughly 5% of Vera Bradley’s production was being carried out in New Haven, while the rest was imported from China. Vera Bradley ended its US production in 2015. The company quoted the high cost of manufacturing goods domestically as the reason for their switch.

Vera Bradley ended its US production in 2015 and most of its designs are now manufactured in ChinaVera Bradley ended its US production in 2015 and most of its designs are now manufactured in China (Credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock)

If you’re buying a vintage Vera Bradley bag, double-check the label to see where your bag was made. It’s not unusual to still find bags on the re-sale market that were made in the United States.

Any Vera Bradley products you’ll find in stores today are made in China.

Who Owns Vera Bradley?

Vera Bradley is an LLC that is still privately owned. Patricia Miller and Barbara Bradley Baekgaard have since given over leadership of the company to a c-suite team.

Vera Bradley remains privately owned, with its leadership given to a c-suite teamVera Bradley remains privately owned, with its leadership given to a c-suite team (Credit: Vera Bradley)

Robert Wallstrom is the current CEO of Vera Bradley, while John Enwright is CFO. Daren Hull sits as President of the Vera Bradley Brand, including its subsidiaries.

What Brands Are Similar to Vera Bradley?

Vera Bradley started a revolution of floral prints, paisley patterns, and quirky silhouettes. It’s no surprise that other brands have jumped on Vera Bradley’s niche.

You might love the silhouette but prefer a different print. Perhaps you’ve grown up with Vera Bradley and want to try another brand.

1. Kate Spade

Kate Spade is the next step on the whimsical ladder for those who love quirky and novelty bags. While you’ll find some nylon bags, most Kate Spade products are made using leather.

The brand has also collaborated with some of the same brands as Vera Bradley, including Disney.

Kate Spade Thermal Tote; Kate Spade All-Over Butterfly-Print Tote Bag; Kate Spade x Disney Minnie Mouse Faux Leather SatchelKate Spade Thermal Tote, $32.95 at Amazon; Kate Spade All-Over Butterfly-Print Tote Bag, $279 at Farfetch; Kate Spade x Disney Minnie Mouse Faux Leather Satchel, $328 at Nordstrom

2. Kipling

One of Vera Bradley’s best-selling products is its Campus Backpack. If you need a backpack but want a more understated print, check out Kipling.

Kipling City Pack Small Backpack; Kipling Alvar Crossbody Bag; Kipling Seoul Small BackpackKiplingCity Pack Small Backpack, $109 at Amazon; Kipling Alvar Crossbody Bag, $94 at Zappos; Kipling Seoul Small Backpack, $109 at Amazon

3. Dooney & Bourke

Another classic American brand is Dooney & Bourke. It shares much of the same customer base as Vera Bradley with its classic silhouettes, feminine prints, and Disney collaboration.

Dooney & Bourke x Disney Parks Purse Dooney & Bourke Hydrangea Suki Crossbody Bag; Dooney & Bourke Hydrangea Monogram CrossbodyDooney & Bourke x Disney Parks Purse, $208 at Amazon; Dooney & Bourke Hydrangea Suki Crossbody Bag, $210 at Amazon; Dooney & Bourke Hydrangea Monogram Crossbody, $228 at Zappos

Vera Bradley is an American brand with a cult following that sits at an attainable price point. If you want a feminine and quirky bag, you’ll be right at home with Vera Bradley.

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