The Fendi Baguette, the Dior Saddle Bag and the Chloé Paddington were among the clutch of designs that heralded the concept of the now ubiquitous It bag. Since their launch at the dawn of the new millennium, the number of styles deemed worthy of this once exclusive moniker has mushroomed, with brands keen to see their latest offerings given must-have status. However, waiting lists, high-street copies and over-exposure on social media, as well as a renewed interest in personal-led style, have led many of us to now seek out designs that speak more to our sense of individuality than to society pressure.
Handcrafted styles with a story to tell, that combine practicality with futureproof colors and textures, are increasingly finding favor, and here are three of our favorite brands and the inspirations behind them...
“A bite size sample of our soul.” That’s how Daniela Bahamón describes the collection of bucket bags crafted for her label Maison ALMA. Initially designed as a capsule for Esteban Cortazar’s Colombian-inspired pop up last year at former concept store Colette, the bags are now part of the company’s permanent collection.
Already renowned for its line of statement outerwear, Maison ALMA takes a distinctly Latin American approach to luxury, influenced by the world of interiors. Tapestries, ottoman sofas and even curtains inspire the company’s creations, which reflect the natural beauty, color and heritage inherent in Latin American culture.
Originally destined for the home, each hand-dyed bag is constructed from straw and fique, a tough natural fiber made from the leaves of the Furcraea andina plant. And drawing on the millinery basket weaving know-how found in the Colombian state of Boyaca, Bahamón worked for months with local artisans to create the baskets. The fiber for each bag is twisted up to 5,000 times in order to create the tight, woven shape which is both practical and hardwearing, ensuring the colorfully-chic bags will last a lifetime.
“Hardware is what dates a bag. Mum’s bags from the Seventies all have none, so they still look modern now,” explained Elena Hawila in an interview for The Telegraph last year. The daughter of former model Elke Ruge is part of the mother-daughter trio behind the hardware-free Montunas brand, that includes her sister Amanda, and whose Costa Rica-inspired bags forego fashion in favor of classic shapes and high quality materials.
Named after Elke’s nickname growing up, the first Montunas bags were created 25 years ago on a cattle ranch on the coast of the Central American country. Balancing young children and travel, Elke created each one out of necessity, but the all-purpose styles which transcended trends, generations and locations now form the basis of the family’s London-based business.
Produced in Spain, the core designs use vegetable tanned leather that gets better with age, allowing them to be used year after year.“I used to put my bags on the roof rack and drive around Costa Rica in the summer, letting them age naturally in the sun,” explained Elke. The no hardware policy also aims to keep the styles timeless, and printed linings depicting the dense Costa Rican rainforest add a special touch.
Lozza D Marin
Lozza D Marin is a new brand from Colombia's Nora Lozza. The long established leather house, which is named after its founder, specializes in luxury handmade accessories crafted by local artisans, and uses traditional techniques passed down from generation to generation.
Now led by Nora Lozza’s daughter Catalina Kempf, the creative director has introduced the Lozza D Marin line of small leather accessories into the brand’s portfolio, which adds a luxe-boho element to the company’s traditional aesthetic.