Tired of your lolita brand bags flaking on you after only a few uses? Wish that you could buy a bag that is cute and going to last? You’re in luck! I finally got my hands on the Heart of Valentine mini bag, a collaboration between Korean brands Evillive and Iris Garden. Let’s take a look at this new item.
Let’s address the elephant in the room: the price tag. This bag was $250+shipping (although I didn’t pay for shipping, we’ll get to that later). While the lolita community is no stranger to eye popping price tags for items, $250 could buy you a couple blouses, a dress, a couple pairs of shoes, and at least two bags from Angelic Pretty or Baby. On AP and Baby’s United States websites right now, there are no bags that even come close to this price. However, this bag has a few things going for it.
First, and I can’t stress this enough, this bag is made of actual leather, which is practically unheard of for lolita brands. The cost of the materials definitely increases the total cost of the bag. Second, the bag is a novelty shape that complicates it’s construction. If we look at similar bags from other companies, we can see that a similar bag from Kate Spade with a heart shape is $349 (though it is currently on sale for $239). Leather bags from Vivienne Westwood start at $150 for a small phone pouch, and top out at over $900. Though Kate Spade and Vivienne Westwood are “luxury” brands, it’s clear that a $250 price point is in line with higher end, novelty bags.
Indie brand collab
While Evillive has made high quality leather bags before, they aren’t super prolific in the US lolita scene. So it’s possible that this bag wasn’t going to be up to par with other lolita brands. Luckily, I did have a chance to see Evillive’s previous version of this bag, the Heart of Valentine “regular” sized bag at the Bay Area Kei’s Holiday Pop-Up shop. This enormous bag was made with real leather and was priced at $350. It’s material, straps, and hardware were excellent. It was great to hold it in my hands. I got a great sense of what carrying this bag would be like. While this bag was lovely, it was waaaay too big to be my “everyday bag”. The mini bag was much better fit for my daily needs.
Heart of Valentine mini bag
The mini Heart bags were first launched as part of a Kickstarter on December 1, 2021. The bag was avaliable in red and black with gold hardware. Unfortunately, the Kickstarter did not meet its goal, but Iris Jeong of Iris Garden went forward with producing the bags anyway. I placed my preorder for a red mini Heart bag on January 14. Iris let me know that the bags were expected to arrive in early February, with the hope that they would arrive before Valentine’s Day.
When I placed my order, Iris noticed that I didn’t live far from her (we both live in Los Angeles). She asked if I wanted to pick up the bag when it arrived rather than pay for shipping. On February 9, 2022, Iris posted on Instagram that the bags had arrived in the US and messaged me later that day. She offered to drop it off that night! Ultimately, the timing didn’t work out, but I just wanted to share this story because it’s clear that Iris is really dedicated to making sure her US customers are happy with their items! Instead, I picked up the bag at a pop-up that Iris Garden held in Los Angeles on February 27-28.
My bag came in a soft dust bag for storage, and because I preordered the bag, it also came with a cute pin of the bag itself! The leather is soft and pebbled, giving it a nice texture in person. The color is a blue red that will pair well with the bright reds of AP and Baby the Star Shine Bright. It really pops against this Innocent World skirt, though the bag is a slightly brighter color.
The handle was set up for using it as a handbag. But there was an additional strap to turn it into a crossbody bag, which is my preferred way to carry purses. The straps allow for lots of customization, including style and length. The hardware is gold, including the zipper and pulls. While I think it is real metal, it’s not as heavy as the other luxury handbags I have. this makes the bag itself lightweight and easier to carry. Because of that, it also lays nicer against the body compared to some of my other purses (looking at you, Rebecca Minkoff).
Another detail I think is very clever is the placement of the bow. I was worried that the 3D detailing might get tweaked or twisted during use if it stuck out too much. However, the edges of the ribbon just line up with the edges of the bag. The ends are reinforced by the body of the bag. It’s a small touch but it means this bag will look good for longer.
I do have one complaint: there is no interior pocket. I like having a place to slip my phone or a slim wallet so I don’t have to dig around in the bottom of the purse for them. Obviously not a huge deal, but it’s a little bit of a bummer not to have one.
If it fits…
Of course, the big question on everyone’s mind when they buy a purse is “how much stuff can I fit inside?” Iris Garden’s Etsy lists the dimensions as 23 cm x 20 cm x 7.5 cm. But if you’re like me and you’re not great with 3D space, this might not mean much to you. So let’s put some things inside.
This bag easily fit my phone, card wallet, sunglasses and lipstick, which are the things I never leave the house without. It did not fit my “large” wallet, which measures about 7.5 inches. But that’s also true for some of my Kate Spade purses, which is why I mostly carry a tiny card wallet. My Kindle Paperwhite and Kindle Fire 7 tablet did fit. A standard size Moleskin notebook did not fit (much to my sadness) but the mini size fit just fine. It also didn’t fit a Nintendo with Joy-Cons attached, but remove the Joy-Cons and everything fit just fine.
Just for fun, I tried to cram as much stuff as I could inside. A Kindle, Switch, Joy-Cons, and Angelic Pretty head bow all fit zipped inside. There was still room for my wallet and phone too. (You can check out my Tiktok and Instagram to see a video of me shoving everything inside). That’s a lot of stuff!
So to recap: the purse does have a high price tag. However, it’s by far the nicest purse I’ve ever bought solely for lolita. I know that the leather is going to last longer than similar, less expensive bags from other brands. Despite the “mini” in its name, this bag fits plenty for daily use. Plus, Iris is clearly dedicated to making sure you love the stuff you get from the brands she represents.
The Heart of Valentine mini bag is available for purchase now. You can find Iris Garden on Etsy, Instagram, and Facebook. You should reach out to Iris if you’re interested in any Korean lolita brands, because chances are she can help you with that.