When less is wow: Minimalist handbag labels

When less is wow: Minimalist handbag labels
PHOTO: M2Malletier, On Pedder, Building Block

The bags that are now exciting shoppers are simple, but oozing with chic appeal. Here are three up-and-coming minimalist handbag labels that are making their mark.

Mansur Gavriel

Classic in style and easy on the wallet, Mansur Gavriel has the ideal go-to bags, if you can actually get to them.

So coveted are they that they sell out within minutes online and have generated months-long waitlists.

The insatiable appetite for Mansur Gavriel is well documented on the brand's Instagram account, where shoppers appeal to others for one of the brand's Italian vegetable tanned leather bucket bags that have nothing more than a small gold stamp on it.

From this weekend, multi-label accessories store On Pedder will start stocking the brand, which may ease the demand over at luxury multi-label store LaPrendo (www.laprendo.com).

The waiting time at LaPrendo, which has stocked the brand since last year, is between three and six months. Prices range from $700 for the Mini Bucket to $1,680 for the Lady Bag.

More hype can be expected now that the brand has been awarded the prestigious Swarovski Award for Accessory Design at this year's Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Awards.

Founded in 2012 by Rachel Mansur, 31, and Floriana Gavriel, 32, who met at a concert by indie band The xx, the New York City- based brand has expanded into tote bags and backpacks. Plans for a clothing line are under way.

"Both Floriana and I felt we couldn't find a beautiful, classic bag below the designer price point range," Mansur told The Telegraph in 2013.

A bucket bag from an established luxury brand can cost two to three times more.

Mansur added: "When designing the collection, we decided to emphasise cost in the quality of leather and craftsmanship, and minimise cost in areas such as lining and hardware.

"We simplified in order to accentuate quality and keep the price point manageable."


Mediaeval medical instruments and luxury handbags do not sound like obvious bedfellows, but when they result in the birth of chic, geometric handbags, the union starts to make complete sense.

Founded by Colombian designers Melissa Losada and Marcela Velez in 2012, M2Malletier bags exude a subtle elegance through modern clean lines, premium leather and its signature metal handle.

A mediaeval armour book containing illustrations of medical instruments, which Losada stumbled upon during a trip to Paris, served as inspiration for the metal bar.

The idea for a handbag label started when Losada, 30, and Velez, 28, were fashion students at Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Losada says in an e-mail interview with Life: "When Marcela and I started talking about a project, we realised that we really did not love any specific handbag brand, so we set out to make a luxury handbag that would be timeless."

The Barcelona-based brand is stocked on online multi-label luxury store LaPrendo (www.laprendo. com). Prices range from $1,820 to $1,900.

With their small, structured shapes, M2Malletier bags serve well as evening clutches with character, as seen on the arms of fashion insiders such as entrepreneur Velda Tan, blogger Nicole Warne and Tank Magazine fashion director Caroline Issa.

As friends and business partners, the co-founders say that drawing a distinct line between work and friendship has helped them maintain both relationships.

On their days off, they still spend time together discovering new places around Barcelona and reading magazines on the beach.

"The key is the trust that we have. We keep our responsibilities very specific, but we still review everything between us both," says Velez.

Building Block

Influenced by their previous careers as industrial designers, Kimberly and Nancy Wu went back to basics for their accessories label Building Block.

The Los Angeles-based sisters tell Life in an e-mail interview: "We were both growing increasingly tired of fast, trend-based goods and were looking to go back to the drawing board.

"Blurring the line between luxury and utility was something we began to experiment with as a means to establish a new aesthetic." Kimberly is 30 and Nancy is 28.

This new aesthetic came in the form of sleek, geometric leather handbags that are, as the label's name suggests, the building blocks of a wardrobe.

Featuring neutral shades and clean lines, a bag from Building Block goes with just about everything.

Staying true to their resolution of going back to basics, bags from the label are produced in Taiwan, where the sisters' ancestors are from.

Since the launch of its first bag in 2012, the brand has translated its pared-down aesthetic into more than 30 styles. Among them is the Bucket Nude ($698, above) and Cylinder Sling in haze ($575).

The Cylinder Sling is an example of how the brand plays with textures to showcase its luxeutilitarian aesthetic. For the handles, rubber cording has been used instead of leather.

Building Block is stocked here at multi-label store Kapok in the National Design Centre and is one of Kapok's best-selling brands.

The sisters recently ventured into footwear by launching their first collection of sandals and plan on launching men's bag styles within the next few years.

As it is, the brand has built quite a following. According to a report in trade publication Women's Wear Daily, sales for the label was up by 250 per cent in the last year. Between last year and this year, the brand shipped and sold about 6,000 items.

"Maintaining the right price point while satisfying the need for unfussy accessories in the marketplace have been definite factors in our success," say the sisters.


This article was first published on July 09, 2015.
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