Handbag maker Mezzi has one goal: to combine fashion and technology in the form of beautiful, high-tech handbags.
The company designs leather bags that retail for below-luxury prices and come equipped with technology like phone chargers and tracking devices.
I got to try out two of Mezzi’s bags — the laptop tote and a smaller envelope-style satchel — to see if tech-enabled handbags are the next big thing.
Here’s what I found.
Mezzi's bags retail anywhere from AUD$255 to $650. The most inexpensive bag is a small, zippered clutch, while the priciest bag is a roomy travel tote that can hold your laptop.
Mezzi makes seven other styles in total right now -- everything from clutches to totes to cross-body styles -- all of which have the ability to charge your phone three full times.
All of Mezzi's bags are genuine leather or suede. Both bags I tested were leather with a suede interior.
The first bag I tried was the Ada Laptop Tote, a roomy but streamlined bag that has a laptop sleeve, a second space for things like a wallet or keys, a pocket for your phone, and two different length straps.
I have an older 2011 Macbook Pro, and it still fit nicely in the laptop sleeve -- although thinner laptops would probably fit better.
The bag comes equipped with a battery that can quickly re-charge your phone. It has two different connectors, one for Android and one for iPhone. The battery also lights up, which can be helpful for searching through your bag in the dark.
Normally, the battery fits in a pocket inside the front compartment of the bag. While it's somewhat disappointing that it's not more cleverly concealed -- or, better yet, wireless -- it's also a plus: If you don't want it, you can leave it at home and use that pocket for something else, or you can use it as a portable charger.
After testing the bag for a week, there's one thing I'm still not clear on: Mezzi says the bag comes equipped with tracking technology that can let you know if your bag gets lost or stolen. But I couldn't find the tracking device while I was using the bag, and the iPhone app that connects to the tracker via Bluetooth isn't anywhere to be found in the App Store.
Even as someone who's had her purse stolen before, having a tracking device inside my bag isn't a key feature for me. Plus, if your phone is in the bag when you lose it, you won't be able to locate it anyway. Still, the bag comes with a manual that says the app is available, so being unable to use it was disappointing.
The second bag I tested was a smaller, envelope-style bag with a long, chain strap so I could wear it across my body.
This bag had more tech features, like this built-in device that charges phones and tablets, an in-bag flashlight, and a button so you can pair your phone with your bag using Bluetooth.
...and the light is very bright. It shuts off by itself after a few seconds so you don't accidentally waste the battery.
The Bluetooth pairing feature is fun because the bag has a built-in speaker. I never really knew I wanted to play music out of my bag, but now I wish I'd had this during all those parties when someone put a phone inside a mug and called it a day.
But the pairing feature was also extremely problematic: It's designed so your bag will vibrate when you have a notification, or play your ringtone when you have an incoming call. But every time I paired my phone to the bag, it would inexplicably start blaring what sounded like a loud car alarm. My Business Insider coworkers did not enjoy that feature.
After spending a few weeks trying both bags out, I can say that in terms of quality and craftsmanship, they're worth the price. From a style standpoint, they're modern but not too trendy, making the investment well worth it. Even the packaging makes you feel like you're unwrapping a beautiful luxury product.
But the more advanced technology features are, at their best, overly bulky, and unreliable. At their worst, they caused more than one loud and embarrassing moment at work as I desperately tried to shut everything off, not knowing the source of the noise.
Technology aside, Mezzi makes well-crafted handbags that make you look like you spent a fortune when you only spent $200-$300. For that alone, they're worth buying.
But if you're looking for a top-of-the-line, tech-enabled bag, this isn't quite it. While it charges up your phone quickly and provides a delightful party trick with their concealed speakers, the implementation doesn't live up to the concept, which makes using it a bit more trouble than it's worth.