Bag designer Anya Hindmarch to open first store in Singapore

Ask successful bag and accessories designer Anya Hindmarch what keeps her going and she will say laughter.

The 48-year-old Brit, who is also a mother of five, a United Kingdom trade ambassador and a trustee of the Royal Academy of Arts and the Design Museum, says: "Our humour is one of the things I love most about England and I have the most wonderful team. We call ourselves the AH (Anya Hindmarch) family. Laughter is our lifeblood. Laughter and cake."

It is no surprise then that many of her bag designs - available when the brand's first standalone store in Singapore opens later this month - are a reflection of her cheery and fun personality.

Her bags are a splash of symbols, such as yellow smiley faces, googly eyes and pixelated aliens from the 1970s arcade game Space Invaders, as well as explosions of colour.

For instance, for her Fall Winter 2014 collection, the founder, chairman and chief creative officer of the eponymous line of bags, shoes and accessories, designed a range of clutch bags resembling Kellogg's Frosties and Coco Pops cereal boxes from the iconic American food brand Kellogg Company.

And if that is not different enough, the bags can be personalised with Anya Hindmarch alphabet or symbol stickers made of embossed goat leather.

Her creativity and bubbly personality extend beyond her designs, spilling over into her fashion presentations - which are a departure from the norm.

For her Spring Summer 2016 collection presentation at London Fashion Week in September last year, gymnasts and mirrors were arranged on set to give guests the illusion that they were looking into a kaleidoscope.

At the show for her Autumn Winter 2013 collection, the stage was set with 50,000 dominoes, toppling along a winding track. Her domino-themed clutches and bags then rose from hidden trapdoors.

But it is not just about aesthetics - Hindmarch says functionality is paramount. After all, she adds, the bags are designed for her - a busy mother to five children between the ages of 13 and 27, wife and business owner juggling many roles.

Her husband, Mr James Seymour, 61, is the company's financial director.

Hindmarch says: "In terms of who we design for, I think it's me. Not because I'm my own muse, but because I am a mother, a wife and I run a business, and I also like to have fun - so I design with all these roles in mind.

"I think bags can really make a difference to how a woman feels and the 'role' she plays. They also have to work. Functionality is very important to me."

As a result, her tote bags, which are made in Italy, are roomy, can be worn over the shoulder and have multiple pockets with zipper closures.

She also designs backpacks and crossbody bags that leave the wearer hands-free.

Her bags are also loved by men, who either buy the more unisex designs, such as the tote bags, or order bespoke pieces. The brand's first men's collection was launched in London in July. It is not available in Singapore.

Hindmarch may have started her brand in London in 1987 when she was 19, but she had already made up her mind to design bags three years earlier, when her mother gave her a small jacquard print Gucci bag with a navy blue trim.

She recalls: "I was rather obsessed with the bag. When I was 16, she gave it tomeand I cherished it, I still remember the feeling it gave me... I think from there, I knew what I wanted to do."

Since its launch, the brand has expanded to include a small range of ready-to-wear items and, according to an article last year by British business magazine Director, it recorded about $50.4 million in worldwide revenue last year.

The brand, which counts British model Kate Moss as one of its fans, has 56 stores in nine countries, including the United States, with 23 standalone boutiques in Asia.

The new store here, to open on Sept 24, will take up a 538 sq ft space at Takashimaya. Prices range from $90 for stickers to $4,990 for a large leather bag.

The bespoke service that Hindmarch launched in 2009 in London, however, is not yet available here. It is available only in London, Tokyo and New York. But hopefully, she says, the time will come to bring the service to Singapore.

The Anya Hindmarch store is at Level 2, Takashimaya Department Store, 391 Orchard Road; open 10am to 9.30pm daily.


This article was first published on Sep 15, 2016.
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