There are a lot of men out there who wonder what women could possibly fill their purses with to make them so heavy, but accessories designer Brian Atwood isn’t one of them.
He sees the sense in a lot of the things women carry around all day, so as he launches his first collection of handbags, he aims to make them smarter, not necessarily smaller.
He’ll offer compartments, sturdy closures and light-coloured lining to make it easier to find things.
“I have so many women in my life surrounding me, I have to listen to what they need,” he says. “It makes sense to take it all with you. We carry so much around because we often don’t go home in between stops.”
Atwood, who is best known as a shoe designer for well-heeled celebrity friends Victoria Beckham and high-school pal Melissa McCarthy, for whom he made custom peep-toes for this year’s Oscars, says he started with clutches and minaudieres – not the most practical shapes, he allows – but he had to start somewhere, he explains.
He thinks of the sleek, stylish and strapless clutch as the equivalent of stiletto heels: they are the eye candy one loves owning.
Stuff the clutch into a tote bag and you have the best of both worlds, he suggests.
Atwood does carry a sturdy handled tote from time to time, and totes will likely come in his collection soon. “I love the look of carrying a bag that’s really chic,” he says.
What he doesn’t like seeing are people struggling with bags that weigh well into the double-digit figures. “What you carry in your bag is personal, and I can’t dictate or edit, but I can ask, ‘What does this bag weigh by itself?’ You don’t want to start with a 25-pound bag.”
He also doesn’t want it to be out of style in a year. The beauty of working in accessories instead of clothing, he explains, is that women get to wear their investment piece daily. (Investment is right: His bags, some made from the skin of real water snakes, are priced at more than NZ$1,200.
Atwood’s path into the bag business is a bit untraditional, with an exclusive offering with online retailer Gilt.com. It’s not, however, the designer-discount model that the company made its name with; instead, it’s a full-price, limited-edition partnership.
It made sense for him to go online because it introduced him to a broad base of shoppers – and because he’s a bit of an online shopping addict, he says. “I love to go click, click, click, and then things arrive like its Christmas.”