1960s Susan Gail Original Handbag

I’m not really a big handbag collector, but when I find one that really is interesting, I might capitulate and add it to the handbag shelf. This one from the early 1960s is a good example. I was hooked by the little golden clothespin clasp.

Who could resist? A woman is only so strong in the face of such a novelty.

It wasn’t until I got this bag home that I realized it has another interesting feature – it coverts from a handbag to a shoulder bag. The strap snaps so that it can be lengthened.

This got me to asking myself a question. I was sure that the bad was from the early 1960s, but were women wearing shoulder bags during that time as well? I had always associated the longer straps with the late 60s and the 70s. So I went on a search through my vintage magazines, starting about 1958.

What I discovered was that shoulder bags were being shown for a short time starting in 1960. Maybe my bag was an attempt by Susan Gail to test the shoulder bag waters, but with the assurance that if it turned out to be a mere fad, the bag could still be used.

I was hoping to find ads for Susan Gail goods, but I failed in that attempt. I did find an entry for the company at Bag Lady U.

The Bay Lady mentioned the Susan Gail accordion structure:

The Susan Gail Accordion bag design results from the unique interior frame design. A series of folds in the gussets are not attached to the metal frame and expand wide when open. 

As you can see, my bag has this design feature.

I went on an internet search of other Susan Gail bags. What I found was that the company did a tricked-out copy of the Gucci bamboo handle bag. They also made bags that look suspiciously like the Hermes Kelly. That’s pretty sad, because my bag is pretty nifty, proving that being creative and original beats being a copycat any day.


Filed under Curiosities, Fashion Issues

5 responses to “1960s Susan Gail Original Handbag

  1. great bag closure. It would cause much squealing in the shop where I work. The Magda Makkay flew away in a couple of days to a favorite customer. I even whipped up a dust cover for it. These really special novelty purses do have that Siren call…


  2. Maya

    I also used to think shoulder bags weren’t really around until the late 1960s, so I was surprised to find them advertised quite a bit earlier than that. I know you didn’t look earlier than 1958, but if you go back to the early 50s and late 1940s, you’ll find they were around back then too. I found several ladies’ shoulder strap bags in a 1952 copy of Luggage and Leather Goods (I’ll send you a picture if you’d like to see…they even have that same snap feature your bag has to adjust the strap length). There are also some shown on pages 89-91 in this 1948 Sears catalog:
    Who knew?!?! but there they are….

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jacq staubs

    Nothing to not love about this!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh my gosh! This is amazing!


  5. I am wondering if HERMES “borrowed” the design from her/Bellido. A small company is unable to deal with HERMES.

    Susan also designdr bags that were manufactured in Italy. Again I wonder if this is another “borrowed” item from BOTTEGA VANETA. I am not sure when they started the intrecciato weave.


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