Anya Hindmarch knows good handbags

In an industry caught up with who you’re carrying and how many logos can cram onto a satchel, luxury handbag label Anya Hindmarch earns recognition for what it isn’t, as opposed to what it is.

It isn’t the brand with a two-page magazine ad that makes you tilt your head in confusion. It isn’t the trend with a five-minute expiration date. And, it isn’t the bag the drunken starlet wielded at a TMZ camera.

“I think that our customer is someone who wants something a little less obvious than the very recognizable bags,” says Hindmarch at her boutique in The Shoppes at The Palazzo. “They’re very comfortable in their own skin so they don’t need to express the state of their wealth through their handbag.”

Logos or not, take a close look at an Anya Hindmarch bag and the “cha-ching” tones come in loud and clear. The craftsmanship and textiles that go into one of her bags justifies the spring pricepoints, which range from a disco clutch at $460 to a woven calf leather tote at $1,395. The exceptional quality isn’t surprising when considering her philosophy on handbag designing: It’s more than an art, she says, “it’s a responsibility.”

Clearly, she realizes the role a bag plays in a woman’s life today. Women who dine alone request a table for two; one chair for them and one for their bag. Female drivers forced to brake quickly dart their right arm out, not as a habit of protecting their passengers, but their bags. It does, after all, hold their Volvo keys, prescription bottles, formula bottles, Blackberries, miniflasks, Whole Foods coupons, business cards and everything in between.

This past holiday season, the British designer indulged the masses with a diffused Target line. Envelope clutches, flap-over shoulder bags and bucket purses designed by Hindmarch herself all bore price tags that didn’t exceed $49.99. With a speedy sellout, the same bags are now on eBay for twice their original value. But, that’s small time compared to the hysteria her eco effort incited.

Hindmarch is the same designer behind the ubiquitous “I’m Not a Plastic Bag” bag. The cotton shopper bag with rope handles, covered in the redundant but green message, “I’m Not a Plastic Bag,” sent the trend-conscious into hysteria. “We had 80 thousand people coming in one day in England for that project,” says Hindmarch. “It got out of hand.”

She used the “It” bag formula to deliver a political message. Produce a limited supply of bags and have the right people carry them. In this case, the right people were secured after the bag was chosen as the goodie bag at the ’07 Vanity Fair Oscar party. It sold for a whopping $10, but with only 30 allowed at each retailer, eBay garnered more than $200 a bag.

Hindmarch looks at the reusable idea behind the eco bag the same way she does her penchant toward the classics. “One thing I’ve never liked is waste,” she says. “I still wear bags I designed 10 years ago.”

Anya Hindmarch is located at The Shoppes at The Palazzo, 566-8900

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