Fashion Startups To Know, Part Two: 25 Brands Making Bags and Shoes for Work

independent shoes and bags for workA while back we rounded up thirty workwear brands you probably hadn’t heard of, focusing on smaller, startup fashion companies serving up new, interesting clothes for working women. Shoes for work and bags for work (laptop totes and beyond) became such a huge portion of it we thought we’d save it for its own post — and here it is! Below: meet 25 companies on our radar catering to the market of working women. Ladies, do you prefer to buy from independent retailers, or do you just like to see what kind of products they’re imagining? Have you tried any of these brands? Do you know of any others that should be on our radar?

Independent Brands Making Shoes for Work

  • Dana Davis  – Dana Davis is a “revolutionary footwear collection” that melds luxury styling with invisible comfort technology.
  • Eleanor Anukam Footwear offers a “wide range of footwear for plus size women including fashion, casual shoes, designer bridal pumps, and high heels up to size 13.”
  • Killer Comfort  – “Killer Heels Comfort inserts are the NEW ‘holy grail’ of shoe inserts for high heels.”
  • Magritte Shoes – “Our mission is to make comfortable shoes a little sexier, so we can all get a little luckier.”
  • M.Gemi – “Handcrafted Italian Flats, Pumps & More. Fresh From Italy Each Week.” Pictured: the Fortuna, one of their best selling styles of flats.
  • Marais – “Named for the famed ‘Le Marais’ district in Paris and based out of Brooklyn, Marais USA embodies the best of both worlds. We reinvent the classics season after season, and for a price that won’t leave your wallet empty.”
  • Shoes of Prey – Shoes of Prey began as a website where you can design your own shoes — you can now buy some of their products through Nordstrom.
  • Thesis – SpaceX veteran Dolly Singh has “re-architected the high-heel shoe from the inside out to bring you the world’s first high performance stiletto that never compromises on style.” They’re still in pre-launch phase, but you can look through their lookbook online.
  • True Gault  – “True Gault is a high-tech fashion company using 3D imaging to create custom beautiful and comfortable high heels.”
  • Ukies – “UKIES is a European-inspired brand that focuses on delivering affordable, high style, Italian leather shoes while refusing to compromise comfort.”
  • Viajiyu – “Our shoes are handmade in Italy, using the finest fabrics, by the same artisans who have been making shoes for centuries. We have partnered with the same Italian shoemakers who make some of the world’s best known and sought after luxury shoe brands.”
  • Zvelle – “Zvelle is a fashion and footwear brand of its own kind. At Zvelle, we don’t make collections for seasons. We make luxurious, handcrafted shoes for all occasions in a woman’s life.” Their new Ava heel (pictured in purple) was “custom designed for Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, this iconic shoe made its star-studded debut at a White House state dinner.”

independent companies for bags and shoes for work

Pictured at top: UKIES heels, M.Gemi flats, Zvelle heels. Row 2: Dagne Dover Charlie tote, Lo & Sons laptop tote, GRACESHIP laptop tote

Bags for Work     

  • Alesya Bags – “When it comes to pulling it all together, an Alesya Bag is your power move. It was specifically designed for the “I travel for business,” and the “I’m on the brink of a huge career move” types.”
  • Cuyana – “Timeless apparel and accessories for the modern woman made with the most premium materials and finest craftsmanship.”
  • Dagne Dover – “Dagne Dover, the perfect bag for every occasion.” Pictured: the Charlie tote. 
  • deWolfe – “deWolfe leather goods are made with beauty and function in mind. artisan leather goods. hand crafted in Boston.”
  • Ellia Wang – “Ellia Wang designs & handcrafts women’s accessories in the U.S. with high-quality Italian leather.”
  • Graceship – “GRACESHIP is a line of chic laptop bags for women. Our exclusive product combines the specs of a laptop bag with the swank of a purse.” Pictured: the London Women’s Laptop Bag (in camel). 
  • Hunting Season – “Hunting Season bags, belts, and small leather goods are designed to become timeless staples of a women’s wardrobe with a strong focus on craftsmanship and excellence in materials and production.”
  • Ian James – “Ian James is a NYC based brand that handcrafts in various types of bags. All products are inspired by color, geometry, and a classic sense of style.”
  • Joanna Maxham – “Contemporary handbag line inspired by city lifestyle, designed in New York, and created by the best in leather craft.”
  • Lo & Sons – “Lightweight materials, thoughtful features, and timeless styles. Smartly designed bags for life on the road, created by a mother and her two sons.” Pictured above: their Seville laptop tote
  • Mandy Chang – “Our passion is to deliver statement designs that transition seamlessly from work to social.”
  • Martine – “Leather-goods purveyor selling a selection of satchels, totes & other bags, including custom pieces.”
  • Oak73 – “Oak73 is committed to delivering the freshest fashions. With a focus on what’s trending and our close proximity to our factories, Oak73 brings you what you want, when you want it—which we know is now, not next year.”
  • Sara Barner – “Leather goods store in Portland, Oregon. Every bag, clutch, tote and wallet is eye-catching in its minimal design; an exercise in elegant proportions, obsessive detailing and clean, modern silhouettes.”



  1. For shoes, have you seen Nisolo? They make great work-friendly booties and oxfords. Love their smoking slippers too! They also have nice totes and laptop sleeves

    I have no connection to them, just love the shoes and their ethos!

  2. Love to support startups when they are made with care and quality. The only difficulty is that I feel terrible if for some reason I want to return something.
    I’d love to try the new version of the Alesya bag.

  3. Does Dana Davis still make shoes? I’d thought they stopped when the titular Dana Davis took over as Executive Director for the Children’s Diabetes Foundation.

    A couple more shoe brands I’ve been keeping an eye on:

    Joan Oloff Shoes (, a podiatrist-designed Italian-made brand recently featured on Good Morning America. I feel like most of her heels are too high for work, but if Thesis Couture made your list, probably Joan Oloff should too. :D

    Casa Couture ( which makes truly gorgeous and comfy Italian-made flats as long as you understand that their 10 is a 40, not a 41. (I can’t speak to the heels). And they’re really inexpensive for shoes that comfortable and beautiful.

    But that recommendation comes with a lot of caveats. Disappointingly, they haven’t made any new shoes for at least three years. This is because they’re trying to start US production, but that’s still a loooot of time with no new products. Half of their website is broken, too. Also, all of my experience with their customer service has been nice, but they listed my previous gushing Corporette comment about their shoes on their ‘press’ page ( in a way I feel really uncomfortable with: ‘Corporette: Casa Couture featured as “Best professional flats” on fashion, lifestyle and career site.’ Like, I’m glad they liked my comment, but my comment on a post is not the same as Corporette featuring their shoes.

    So…. I think the product is great, and would really like for them to make more, but for a few reasons I feel weird recommending them.

  4. pinkrobot :

    Do any of the shoe brands come in wide? Or narrow for that matter? I know shoes of prey does wide and double wide as well as narrow.

    • That is an excellent question! I realized halfway through this comment that you were not actually asking *me* that question, but heck, maybe what I have to say is helpful anyway.

      Joan Oloff shoes and Casa Couture shoes both might work for slightly wide feet.

      Joan Oloff has a custom last that’s essentially what’s called a combination last: her shoes are narrower in the heel and wider in the forefoot.

      Casa Couture shoes are designed for pregnancy shoe-size shifts, so they’re designed to stretch between a B and a C width, so unless you have D-width feet like me or wider, they should probably work.

      As for the shoes Kat mentioned: Ukies claim their shoes fit wide feet, but my D-width feet did not fit comfortably in their shoes. Possibly that’d be fixed by breaking them in, but I don’t deal well with having my toes constricted. I have never tried on any of the other shoe brands Kat lists, and some of them no one’s tried yet (like Thesis Couture).

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