The era of mass production and consumption looks like it’s here to stay. However, with great onslaughts comes an even greater need to stand out, so even while machine goods with designer labels slapped onto it has meant suffering indigenous artisans and craftsmen for a few years now, the times they are a changin’. A few local designers have begin to understand the power of integrity and strong aesthetic, which stands out bold and bright in a sea of whitewashed goods. Both for its detailed and unique work that they’re incorporating the themes of exquisite handicraft into their own boutique labels as well as their ability to see a bigger picture — one where innovation trumps labels.
Scroll on to see our picks of some of the country’s most refreshing handbag and accessory designers that blend tradition with contemporary needs, seamlessly.
I. Nappa Dori
If leather equals luxury and some sort of membership into handbag heaven, you’ll understand exactly why Nappa Dori’s remained at the top of our wish list for a few years now. Founded by designer Gautam Sinha as “a tribute to quintessential Indian sensibilities,” the brand offers a beautiful variety of hand-crafted leather products, ranging from satchels and briefcases, to other accessories like cuff-links and pencil cases, and as far as exquisite aesthetic sense goes, they’re largely unmatched. The brightly coloured handmade trunks that have come to their signature product are reminiscent of the British Raj times.
HG Loves: In an age of mass production, every single article from them are handmade by artisans. Their valises depict all the beautiful things about India that we love and cherish, right from its milkmen to the rickshaws and even obvious monuments like Qutub Minar.
Price Range: Slightly on the higher end starting from INR 6,000 going up to as much as INR 16,500. The smaller accessories such as the Jholas are relatively cheaper for those wanting to work their way up starting from INR 2,200. However, thanks to their unique craftsmanship and durability, these products are worth every penny you spend.
Image source: Nappa Dori
II. Rachana Reddy
If you are looking for simple, elegant yet stunning handbags, then be sure you take a look at Rachana Reddy’s collection. By drawing inspiration from anything and everything, be it a chair, the Indian summer to even the “sunshine, moonlight and all that is bright and illuminating,” she creates edgy, chic collections of clutches, small purses and jewelry that are handcrafted by skilled artisans and allow whoever’s carrying it to define their personality as bolder than before.
HG Loves: The versatility. Rachana Reddy designs are modern and contemporary, while still providing a nod towards the traditional, which allows you to pair it with just about any kind of clothing.
Price Range: Anywhere between INR 3,200 up to INR 12,000, the prices may seem exorbitant but think of these accessories as a work of art, worth investing in. Add to this, the fact that they are all Limited Edition — who wouldn’t want a one-of-a-kind masterpiece?
Image source: Rachana Reddy
III. CMPLT UNKWN
Black seems to be their colour and dark, daring and eccentric seems to be their style statement. ‘CMPLT UNKWN’ has been known for their fierce bordering on eerie collection of leather clutches pandering to the bad-girl persona that exists in every woman. All their clutches are made out of vegan leather with hand-embroidered motifs of insects and animals like wasps and leopards. Oh wait! We almost forgot the gold spikes. Seriously sexy.
HG Loves: It is a simply refreshing to see a brand step away from the usual delicate image of a woman and create something so raw and beautiful. Their clutches are a perfect synthesis of the traditional craftsmanship and gothic beauty.
Price Range: All their designs are equally high priced at $585 (INR 37197.22) so...you might want to start saving right away.
Image source: CMPLT UNKWN
IV. Square Loop
Don’t be fooled by their simplicity. These bags are minimalist and elegant, while also highly functional with its numerous pockets and compartments, making it a perfect companion to any number of trends. Designed by Kanika Sachdeva, their use of natural skin colours in darker or smokier tones keeps it sophisticated. They also specialize in large totes, small backpacks and have a lot more to boast about apart from being made out of genuine leather.
HG Loves: Because there’s a lot to love! From its unique aesthetics thanks to the colour combinations to the raw edges and interesting shapes they come in, unisex bags aren’t something you come by very often and Square Loop has hit the nail on the head with their creations.
Price Range: Reasonably priced at about INR 7,500 with some from the collection going up to INR 15,000, given their designer status.
Image source: Square Loop
Most items from their collection follow a very basic style of dimple patterns set on a solid coloured background. They have an extremely minimalist but stylish range of accessories that everyone is bound to love.
HG Loves: Their collection is young and fresh, making it something that would appeal to the college going crowd. Their simple designs and the choice of colour combinations like white, beige, black and shades of blue, makes it a perfect accompaniment for casual outings too.
Price Range: When it’s priced at a jaw-droppingly low price of INR 450, it would be a crime to not buy at least one.
Image source: Twenty Seven
VI. RARA AVIS
You will not be able to find a single item from the Rara Avis collection that does not incorporate leather in some way or the other. The designer, Sonal Verma uses different types of Italian leather for each one of her articles which is why all the purses from their assemblage have a strong sense of identity that people tend to notice.
HG Loves: The beautiful material added with the bold designs and immaculate handiwork will definitely make these a conversation-starter in any party.
Price Range: Starting from INR 6,000, it can go up to INR 13,000, depending on what you buy but once you see what they have to offer, you won’t think twice about having to spend the money.
Image source: RARA AVIS
VII. INDIA CIRCUS
Vibrant, contemporary, flamboyant, quirky all while being sophisticated, isn’t an easy feat to achieve but a feat Krsna Mehta has managed to pull off one way or the other with his collection from India Circus. He takes his inspiration from anything that encompasses the spirit of India within it from the rich Mughal designs to our diverse flora and fauna and has created a variety of bags that are nothing short of inspired.
HG Loves: The vibrancy of colours combined with the nuanced heritage of the designs makes each piece created at India Circus truly exceptional. All of their creations offer sophistication with a dash of ‘Indian-ness,’ without draining their wallets either.
Price Range: A beautiful piece of India will be yours for around INR 2000. Unbelievable, right?
Image source: INDIA CIRCUS
VIII. QUIRK BOX
The efforts of Jayesh Sachdev and Rixi Bhatia, behind the label that is ‘Quirk Box,’ offer fun, eccentric and offbeat bags that have pretty much taken over the market since their inception and it’s best you know you won’t be the only one sporting one of these when you do but it doesn’t take away from their worthiness. Unique prints and bright colours are what lies at the foundation of all their creations and it still shows.
HG Loves: Quirk Box has a very strong sense of aesthetic , providing a breath of fresh air to the monotony of the fashion industry with their vibrant, funky prints.
Price Range: You can get a whole box of quirky at just about INR 1,600 to INR 2,500.
While burlap has not always been the first choice when it comes to ‘aesthetic’ designs, The Burlap People (TBP) are giving this traditional fibre an eco-friendly and aesthetic upgrade with handcrafted bags that take conscious living one step further. Changing the perspective of the fabric, TBP offers a variety of products like satchels, slings and their famous duffel bags. One of the most interesting things about TBP is that they are not just another eco-conscious brand, instead, it’s a community of like-minded people who believe in conscious living. While they have a variety of products to choose from, the highlight of the brand is that you can customize every bag as per your liking which makes this accessory as unique as you.
HG Loves: TBP’s belief in eco-consciousness and sustainability doesn’t limit to their products only, they turn their scraps into smaller products like bows and cushions that are equally unique to their bags.
Price Range: Their products can be ordered through Instagram and price is disclosed upon request.
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