Luxury in the bag

Luxury in the bag
Ms Marlin Yuson, director of leather creation at French luxury brand Cartier.

French luxury brand Cartier is known for many iconic things - the panther motif, the Love bracelet and the Tank watch. But leather goods? Not so much.

This may change as the brand works to quietly expand its profile in the bag world. Last month, Cartier launched its Louis Cartier and Jeanne Toussaint leather bag collections in Singapore.

Named after the brand founder's grandson and his muse, who later headed the Cartier jewellery department, the lines offer smooth leather bags free of embellishment and defined by a strongly structured look.

This is not the brand's first time working with leather goods, but Cartier director of leather creation Marlin Yuson explains it is its first foray into the high-end spectrum of bags.

"It is the finishing and details of the bag that make it really high-end," says the Paris-based designer, pointing out details that are not readily visible, such as completely smoothed edges and reinforcements in the flap that prevent eventual creases.

Available in sophisticated hues like cream, burgundy and black with clasps made of black lacquer and obsidian, the bags are clocking in with a higher price tag too, ranging from $2,840 for a clutch bag to $6,900 for a chain bag.

There is also an $18,600 model made with crocodile skin and calfskin leather. The previous range of bags started from around $1,000 onwards.

The brand declined to share what percentage of sales leather goods are currently responsible for.

Ms Yuson says the bags are deliberately simple and graphic in style, without obvious Cartier logos or references to the brand's jewellery pieces.

"We wanted to avoid literal translations from Cartier jewellery. I think it would have been too easy, and a bit gratuitous," says the elegant 50-year-old.

"Leather goods should have a foundation that can stand on their own, which is very pure and graphic."

It is an evolution from Cartier's perhaps most recognisable bag so far, the Marcello, which Ms Yuson designed in 2007. Priced roughly between $1,000 and $2,000, the Marcello featured the Cartier logo squarely in front.

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