Why I’ll Always Love A Vera Bradley Duffel Bag—And Still Have My Childhood Pattern

I can’t be the only one holding onto the nostalgic patterned bag.

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Vera Bradley Bag
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Before there was the trendy Lululemon belt bag and the tech-savvy Away suitcase, there was the Vera Bradley duffel. For many of us growing up, getting your first Vera Bradley was an exciting rite of passage—I know it felt that way to me. Choosing which of the bright, colorful patterns to start my collection was no easy decision, and under no circumstances was I going to copy any of my friends. That was the beauty of Vera Bradley: Everyone got to have their own signature style.

I went with a neon orange-and-pink duffel bag that I’m almost certain was called “Sherbet,” and I had never felt cooler than when showing up to sleepovers or family vacations with the soft-shelled bag in tow. Soon enough, I had many of the matching pieces. Now, I’d be lying if I said that the particularly whimsical orange pattern I chose aged well as I grew into an adult, but I’d also be lying if I said that that exact duffle bag isn’t still sitting in my closet to this day, after a brief stint under my younger sister’s care when she went to college. One thing about a Vera bag, she lasts. 

Vera Bradley was started in 1982 by two best friends, who had been struck by how boring all of the plain black suitcases were in the Atlanta airport. They started designing their patterned creations at home in one of their basements before becoming a huge success in the women’s travel world. Made from 100 percent cotton and machine-washable, the Vera Bradley duffel (also commonly spelled “duffle”) became an easy-to-spot status symbol of sorts, spearheaded by popularity in college-aged girls and women looking for luggage with a little extra personality. 

Over 40 years later, the business continues to thrive, with partnerships including a collegiate collection that offers branded bags in your favorite university colors and with college logos. In addition to still creating and selling their signature colorful patterns on their site, there are also neutral options for those who want the quality and nostalgia in a more subdued shade. I was gifted a black Vera Bradley bag a few years ago (an extra-large quilted duffel to be exact), and it’s become one of my most used travel bags. 

But I won’t be getting rid of my trusty sherbet-orange duffel anytime soon, if ever, and I doubt I’m the only one holding onto an iconic Vera Bradley duffel bag that they first started using decades ago. You can even find some of the discontinued patterns online on Ebay and preloved products through the brand’s affiliated ThredUp shop. You can also shop the brand’s current offerings on Amazon

vera bradley black duffle

Vera Bradley

BUY IT: $155; verabradley.com

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Vera Bradley

BUY IT: $145; verabradley.com

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Vera Bradley

BUY IT: $100; verabradley.com

My sister and I still joke about picking the brightest Vera Bradley bags perhaps ever made, and the sentimentality is enough to keep pulling it out every now and then. 

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