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An Honest Review Of AUPEN Bags, Worn By Taylor Swift, Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez And Other Major Celebrities

Feb 2, 2024 By Amelia Tan

Judging from how instantly recognisable bag names such as the 2.55, Birkin, Baguette, and Jodie are in our immediate circle — see, we don’t even need to mention their respective brands — it’s a no-brainer that we girlies love their luxury bags. Call us obsessed, actually. No other accessory is as vital as a bag slung across the shoulder or wrist, transforming an otherwise basic outfit to one worthy of a second glance, so if you’re looking for a piece that’s able to make that much of a statement, here’s a brand that should be on your radar: AUPEN.

Worn by celebrities from Taylor Swift to Hailey Bieber, Blue Ivy, Kylie Jenner, Selena Gomez, and, most recently, Olivia Rodrigo, the accessories brand is the stuff of quiet luxury, a status symbol for sure thanks to these high-profile associations, but with minimalist designs just understated enough to not call (that much) attention to themselves. Where high-end designer scream wealth and prestige, AUPEN whispers “iykyk” — with accessible price points to boot.

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As a Brooklyn and Singapore-based brand, with studios in both cities, AUPEN aims to rethink our idea of luxury bags, by focusing on design over labels; indeed, their popular asymmetrical shoulder bags are both eye-catching and versatile, what we like to call “classics with a twist”. As an added bonus, their calfskin leather bags are made in Singapore as well.

As a long-time fashion writer-turned editor used to the seasonal cycle of new bags and accessories, these are qualities that personally drew me towards their styles as well, and why I believe some of us love rummaging through racks of clothing at a thrift shop — the idea of an unexpected, unique find that’s more a token of personal style rather than what’s necessarily “on trend”. I’d even compare their designs to low-key brands such as The Row and Loro Piana; AUPEN’s appeal, to me, lies in the balance of how effortless the bags are to style, and how much of a final-touch-to-an-outfit statement they can still make.

With that in mind, we decided to take three of AUPEN’s coveted shoulder bags for a spin, in order to test out their function, durability, and more, and to answer the singular question that’s been on our minds since spotting them everywhere in tinseltown: are they worth the hype? Read on to find out.

Nirvana

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Taylor Swift, with Nirvana.

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Nirvana, $340.

This It-bag by AUPEN has a lot to live up to, thanks to its association with a certain miss Taylor Swift, worn on one of her dates with Travis Kelce no less, but let’s put pop culture significance aside for a while. At first glance, the Nirvana, in black, is something that I’d typically go for — contemporary in style, thanks to its softly structured silhouette, but in a classic shade that makes the design feel more timeless than trendy. Accents such as a scooped asymmetrical shape that complements its slouchy feel, alongside its braided handle and detachable bean-like gold charm, make the bag more memorable as well.

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Carrying the versatile Nirvana bag in black on a casual day out.

In real life, the bag feels smooth and supple to the touch, and has a finely-grained texture that immediately makes it more functional than a typical luxury bag; it’s durable and scratch-proof, so I can go about my day without a care in the world. While earlier variations of the bag were in vegan leather, I was pleased that the brand has now transitioned to traceable European calfskin leather certified by the Leather Working Group — and yes, this is the leather version that I managed to get my hands on!

I’ve taken it out the most out of the three bags, including work events and casual cafe-hopping on weekends, and am pleased to say the Nirvana is as fuss-free as advertised. It looks great on the arm or shoulder, but also retains its shape when setting it down upright on the seat or table.

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With our Nirvana bag at a local cafe.

Furthermore, it’s a lot more roomy than it looks, and easily fits my Apple Airpods, cardholder, more than a couple of makeup items (cushion foundation, lipsticks, blush, highlighter, even a blending blush), plus a staple of the modern world, a portable charger. Don’t worry, it holds its shape quite well despite the ample load I’ve subjected it to, so it seems like the bag has achieved that elusive balance between suppleness and structure. This is a no-brainer I’d reach for any time I need an outfit perk-me-up; it’s certainly made a lover of me.

Fearless Re-Edition

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Nina Dobrev and Jennifer Lawrence, with Fearless.

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Fearless Re-Edition, $340.

Fearless is one of those sleek shoulder bags that looks simple from the get-go, though the more discerning would really admire its asymmetrical silhouette, done clean and with smooth curves for visual elegance. Its sculptural minimalism also makes it prime for pairing with just about anything and everything in your existing wardrobe — girly flounces, a form-fitting slip dress, baggy cargos, anything denim, we really don’t have a list long enough to contain the immeasurable number of options.

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Shopping and mirror selfies with the Fearless bag.

I chose the all-occasion number in a standout cherry red, as I was thinking of having a nice accent piece among my bag collection, and probably because I’ve had enough neutral, minimalist bags at this point. Thankfully, it was easier to match than expected. On a recent shopping day out, I had paired Fearless with an all-denim outfit for a statement look; I loved how it made the somewhat monotone outfit a lot more interesting, and even had fun pairing it with a red lip. Similar to the Nirvana, it looks great when set down, and can be worn comfortably on the shoulder with ample space underneath the arm, even with scrunched-up sleeves.

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We picked the Fearless bag in a standout cherry red.

Compared to the earlier style though, I’d say that the sturdy material — which gives the bag its structure — has less give, and I was thus able to hold lesser items within it, though more essentials that I actually needed. I preferred having my phone out of the bag for most of the day too (who doesn’t!), though I heard that the Fearless is able to hold up to 4 iPhones, a fun fact to keep in mind at the next party, event, or even concert. There might be people who’re concerned about the lack of crossbody straps for AUPEN’s bags as well, but in my opinion, the added fuss takes away from the cleanness of their designs. After all, my favourite thing about the Fearless, and the reason I’d reach for it more often than not, is the sophisticated simplicity of its design, and I’d be happy to sacrifice, say, three extra lipsticks for this good-looker.

Purpose

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Gal Gadot and Olivia Rodrigo, with Purpose.

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Purpose, $180.

If you like the Fearless, but sleeker, then Purpose should be right up your alley. It’s bold, it’s daring, it’s less girl-next-door and more edgy cool-girl, and, we imagine, made for girlies who resonate with Taylor’s lyrics of “draw the cat eye sharp enough to kill a man”. I went for the one in white, as I felt that the colourway would make it slightly more versatile for daytime looks. True enough, pairing it with a simple tank top and leather pants, gave the outfit a cooler vibe — in the lowkey way that AUPEN often does. Interestingly, the bag comes with a detachable shoulder strap, so you’re able to explore carrying it as a clutch as well.

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Our pick of the sleek Purpose bag, in white.

Functionally, the bag’s magnetic clasp holds its flap in place as well, which keeps its contents neat and secure. While versatile enough for everyday style, I still see this as an occasion piece, both because of its slim, eye-catching style, and how, unfortunately or not, it only holds the essentials of, say, a mobile phone, cardholder, keys, cushion foundation / mirror, and a lipstick or two; I wouldn’t necessarily bring this out on a day with a packed schedule.

Where it does shine though is as a flirty little party piece, for when you need a lightweight style that just holds your phone and a couple of items, discreet enough to keep close to you but also boast about during those all-important selfie moments. To up the ante, Purpose also comes with a more glamorous chain strap, and in a fancy Ice edition, with crystal embellishments hanging off the edge of the bag.

Joy

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Gabrielle Union and Olivia Rodrigo, with Joy.

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Joy, $220.

While browsing through AUPEN’s website and socials, I’ve recently come across a new design that piqued my interest — the Joy bag. Also worn by celebrities including Olivia Rodrigo and Gabrielle Union, I’d describe this is the rounder, even more casual cousin of Nirvana, though they share similar traits when it comes to that gentle asymmetrical curve and the versatility of the styles. In pursuit of sustainability, the brand has also opted for responsibly-sourced calfskin leather in two of their newly-introduced handbags, Joy and Lover, as well. If you’re looking for an elegant yet casual style that doesn’t break the bank, here’s a good option to go for!

This article was sincerely referred from NYLON
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