4 Australian creatives show us what’s in their bag


Essentials only.

When I started searching for the origins of the expression ‘You can tell a lot about a woman by the contents of her purse’, my best guess was an old Hollywood movie or an elegant but forward-thinking royal (think Princess Diana).

After a little internet scouring, it appears the expression is actually a quote from the 2004 computer-animated Disney smash hit, The Incredibles, which I still rewatch (mainly for Edna Mode). Is it unexpected? Maybe a little – but Mr Incredible is not wrong. If our inherent human nosiness and British Vogue’s ‘In the Bag’ series have taught us anything, it’s that we love to learn the contents of other people’s handbags.

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It’s a tangible glimpse into the inner workings of our lives, a leather (or nylon, if you’re into that) collection point that captures the fallout of our days – ticket stubs, candy wrappers, half-written notes and loyalty cards.

Personally, I’ve tried (and failed) to be the minimalistic woman who only carries a micro bag and a pair of sunglasses (how?), but I ended up either freezing, thirsty or carrying everything I needed in my hands. Instead, I’ve embraced my role as the friend who has everything – tissues, extra masks, blotting papers and multiple packs of gum. My bag is heavy but I’m definitely well-liked.

So when global label Ecco Leather Goods released its newest range of innovative accessories, the question was posed: what are cool Australian creatives carrying in their bags? To find out, Ecco sent four local cool people a sustainably-made selection from its most recent collection, along with a disposable film camera to candidly capture a day in the life. Read on to find out what some of our favourite designers and artists carry in their handbags.

Emma Hollingsworth, artist and founder of Mulganai

My sole criteria for an everyday handbag is that it’s large enough to hold my work essentials without being bulky. If I feel like taking a day to work on admin from a cafe, the green pine/rose colour Contact tote bag fits my iPad, phone and notepad, along with all my personal items. I always carry sunglasses, a water bottle, perfume, lip balm, a mask and a book. I also added an electric blue ‘E’ charm because I love a personal touch!

For evening outings and weekend affairs, the lilac marble Contact drawstring bag is easy and fun. The strap is great for slinging over my shoulder during the day and I use the little handles for a dressier vibe. Naturally, I had to have the matching phone slip – the drawstring details make it feel like a mini version of my bag. If you’re a constant phone-dropper, it’s also super protective and functional.


Fatuma Ndenzako, designer and co-founder of Collective Closets

I’m a sucker for a large bag (I can’t do the micro trend) and the Ecco contact tote is a perfect size. I can literally fit my whole life in this tote (necessary); I felt like a sleek, chic, cool version of Mary Poppins walking up to this picnic. My friends were obsessed with the texture of this pumice leather – it’s so buttery and soft.

I have to fill my bag with the items I call ‘me essentials’. As a mum, small business owner and generally busy person, these are the items I always have with me (yes, everything). My ‘me essentials’ include Aesop body oil for smooth and hydrated skin, a Collective Closets mask, a wine opener (cheeky), mascara, Uno cards for hours of fun, a black pen (I’m always writing long to-do lists, I love crossing things off), a camera, blush, a blush brush and my African Bologna handwoven fan (for a little fresh air).


Ashiya Omundsen, designer and co-founder of Par Moi

For my everyday, cram-everything-in-and-go bag, I like to keep it simple. The Textureblock saddle bag in black is easy to style and the perfect medium size. I love a magnetic closure for quick access to my handbag necessities and the interior sections keep everything from getting jumbled.

I’ve always got my phone and keys (‘A’ Ecco keychain attached, of course), a hair claw clip in case I need to tame the mane, my point and shoot camera (this doesn’t come out all the time but it’s always with me in case), Mecca Cosmetica sunscreen, La Roche-Posay lip balm (this one has a few chew marks courtesy of my doggo), Bobbi Brown lipstick and a few extra Par Moi masks.


Gemma Lyndon, designer and founder of Raie eyewear

My handbag comes everywhere with me; I’m currently working from home and it still remains by my side constantly! The number one saviours in my bag are my An Organised Life diary and a pen – they keep my productivity on track (with the help of my phone). Every single morning, I spend 15 to 20 minutes planning my day in time chunks. It’s what works best for me and it helps to keep me accountable. I’m a pen and paper kinda gal, nothing’s more satisfying than crossing a task off when it’s done.

I’m a sucker for a good podcast – particularly while working – so I’ve always got my AirPods with me. My fave listens right now are Deliciously Ella and Mind Valley (yes, I’m a self-help junkie). I’ve also got The Handmaid’s Tale book, which I’m really enjoying. Whenever I have a break from work I like to ride my bike and lay on the beach or grass and read. I always come back feeling refreshed and energetic when I force myself to take a break.

When I leave my home office I pack my bag full of the essentials. I bring a mask, hand sanitiser, sunglasses (of course; I’ve always got a plain black pair with me. I keep the fun ones for afternoon wine bars) and my favourite beauty products: Fenty Beauty lip gloss, a mini hairbrush and a tinted serum.


Shop Ecco’s full range of innovative leather goods here.

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