For a solid few months (read: all winter), Cult Gaia’s Nano rhinestone bag was hanging on the elbow of every influencer and Instagram starlet. It became a mainstay in OOTDs and GRWMs on TikTok FYPs everywhere (Did you get all that?). As a self-diagnosed frugal shopper, especially when it comes to It bags that tend to come and go, I initially balked at the $428 price tag and couldn’t help but wonder, what’s so great about it?
There are bag people, and there are…not bag people. Admittedly, I’m not much of a bag girl. Although I can admire a well-designed purse, handbags mostly serve me in functional ways. I do, in fact, use the same backpack from The North Face that I used in college as my current work bag. As such, I’m hard to impress when it comes to bags, because I am quick to debunk them as unnecessary.
Let me be the first to say that this Cult Gaia bag surprised me. It is a beautiful accessory. Available in two sizes and a lengthy list of colors, it makes for a great occasion bag. The first thing I noticed was that it hangs nicely. Unstructured garments or bags can be tricky—you know how it is. A cowl neck top drapes so differently on the hanger than it does on your torso. When it comes to bags without form, it might look great when empty, but less great when in use. I feared this rhinestone bag, which looks stunning without any contents, would look weird and ugly once I filled it. But to my delight, it did no such thing.
This brings me to my second point, which is that I can fill it with quite a lot. It holds all of the typical night-out essentials and then some: keys, wallet, phone, lipstick, powder, gum, pepper spray, mini ring light…whatever the girls are carrying these days.
Interestingly, the bag comes with a little bag full of replacement rhinestones. Skeptical at first, I figured this was Cult Gaia owning the fact that the rhinestones would fall off and need to be replaced. But again, much to my surprise, I was wrong. I’ve used the bag many times over the past five months and have yet to lose a single gem. Let it be known I’m in no way gentle with my belongings, so this actually is very impressive. It really does feel well-made.
The list of cons is short. I found the zipper finicky at times, and the strap is not quite long enough to actually be a shoulder strap on me. I can put it on my shoulder, but the bag essentially sits in my armpit if I do so. But that’s it; those are my critiques.
As with any viral product, dupes materializes quickly and at much lower price points. I’ve seen the copycat versions that go for a fraction of the price. They’re fine, but the actual Cult Gaia bag genuinely has such a brilliance to it that the others do not have. It glimmers and gleams in a way that a fake never will.
If you’re on a tight budget, I can understand this item might not be for you. But if you can pull the proverbial trigger and add to cart, I think the Cult Gaia rhinestone bag is absolutely worth it. It’s great for special occasions, as well as for adding a bit of glam to an otherwise ordinary outfit. People have literally stopped me in the street to compliment it. Flattery always works on me, what can I say!
Associate Fashion Commerce Editor
Meg is the Associate Fashion Commerce Editor at ELLE.com where she researches trends, tests products, and looks for answers to all your burning questions. She also co-writes a monthly column, Same Same But Different. Meg has previously written for Cosmopolitan and Town & Country. Her passions include travel, buffalo sauce, and sustainability. She will never stop hoping for a One Direction reunion tour.