What Happened to Kooba Bags?

In the realm of fashion, tales of meteoric rises and quiet exits are not uncommon. Brands capture the collective imagination, offering products that resonate with the spirit of the times, only to eventually recede into the backdrop. One such story is that of Kooba, a handbag brand that enjoyed its golden days in the early 2000s. But where are they now? Let’s take a trip down memory lane and explore what happened to Kooba handbags.

What are Kooba Bags?

Image via Pinterest

Kooba was launched in the late 1990s by mother-daughter duo Bonnie and Abbe Held. The brand emerged from a desire to design handbags that weren’t just functional, but also distinctive in their style. At a time when many handbags in the market looked similar, Kooba wanted to offer something different – a blend of modern design with a vintage feel.

According to the Kooba website from 2019, the last year it was in operation, the company’s mission was:

“Women who every day search for ways to express their personal style. That’s exactly what the team behind Kooba was doing in 1998 when they found themselves shopping in a sea of sameness that was the luxury market.

Armed only with passion, they set about creating a collection of bags for themselves and their friends. Avid vintage shoppers, the team focused on the things that spoke to them: attention to detail, original styles and distinctive textures. WHERE THE INDIVIDUAL—NOT THE ACCESSORY—MAKE THE STATEMENT.”

The bags made their mark quickly after that, with distinctive shapes, standout hardware, and a genuine sense of uniqueness. They had a certain edginess, juxtaposed with classic, timeless elements. It was this fresh approach, along with early celebrity fans, that catapulted Kooba to fashion fame.

The early to mid-2000s saw Kooba bags dangling from the arms of celebrities and gracing the pages of fashion magazines. Hollywood’s finest, including Sienna Miller, Rihanna, Blake Lively, Julia Roberts, and Jessica Alba, all of whom were spotted with Kooba bags, adding a star-studded endorsement to the brand. This, combined with the quality and design of the bags, made Kooba a must-have for many fashion enthusiasts.

The bags were more than just accessories; they were statement pieces. They appealed to a broad spectrum of women, from young adults wanting a taste of luxury to mature women seeking a sophisticated yet edgy accessory.

What Happened to Kooba Bags?

The Kooba website the last year it existed, in 2019. Image: Archive.org

I n 2007, it was acquired by private equity firms, and later in 2013, it was taken over by Steve Madden, Ltd. These acquisitions aimed to expand the brand’s reach, introduce newer designs, and diversify the product line. However, during the recession, as the brand’s bohemian style started to fall out of fashion as styles and tastes shifted, Kooba became less and less popular. For a while, Kooba tried to navigate the shifting sands of the fashion landscape.

However, by the late 2010s, the brand’s visibility started to wane. The once sought-after bags were no longer as prevalent, and the buzz surrounding the brand began to diminish, until eventually it seemed to have just faded away. The Kooba Instagram was updated until 2019, as was the brand’s website. Neither mentioned any warning for the shut-down or a reason for the closing.