I have never thought of myself as a ‘handbag person’.
This is likely because I had thought this badge of style honour belonged exclusively to those individuals creative and inspired enough to use their bags as statements and not buckets for parking tickets and other ancient paraphernalia.
I have always treated my bags with unceremonious practicality: which is to say, well, but never with much attention. My bags have always been chosen within the guidelines of colours and shapes I have deemed versatile (so that I can throw it over my shoulder, without having to check if it clashes with my shoes). Size is the second factor because I carry everything (on any given day you’ll find in my shoulder bag: 2 different lipsticks and matching pencils, My Moleskine, a camera (two when I anticipate wanting polaroids for said moleskin, a swiss army knife ~ the list goes on.)
But useful just isn’t the only adjective I’m using to describe what I own now. I stumbled upon sustainable fashion when in a bid for minimalism I manufactured myself a capsule wardrobe founded on pillars of ease and simplicity. I found it, but I was also missing something. When I came across this quote -
They are an eclectic collection, all sequins and snakeskin and stories that aren’t mine but that I now carry. Let me introduce you.
Was an elegant woman. She had a shock of snow-white hair and never ever swore. She was a bikini model, and rarely left the house without saying “I just need to put a bit of lippie on!”
Her bag is, small, a delicate purse with immaculate details, from the satin linings to the each embroidered stitch. They are feminine and sweet.
A socialite with killer style who wore a two-piece leather suit to her wedding and still knows more than her fashion-school-attending-grandaughter about current trends. Being vegan myself, I in no way condone the use of snakeskin for accessory making, but I can appreciate the craftsmanship, the textures and the boldness this bag inspires in any wearer. Its boxy shape, earthy browns and wicked ridges are nearly completely opposite to its predecessors.
When I think about these gifts, their value transcends their aesthetic appeal. They give me a sense of connection to my lineage and anchor me in qualities of femininity and daring all at once. I see the multifaceted nature of these bags reflected in the women who wore them, now including me.
This connection isn’t just important for personal reasons, it is also pivotal as we approach an uncertain future where natural resources are being recognised for their non-renewability. When we feel connected to the things we own, we imbue them with a unique kind of value that goes beyond their appearance or purpose. We are endeared to them, we are more inclined to keep them, to take care of them and, when they reach the end of their life, to pass them on to someone else who will love them as much as we have. Regarding the items we own as either absolutely beautiful or completely necessary can shift the way we use and dispose of them and in doing so, gears us more towards circularity (for a more in depth breakdown of what the circular economy is we have a blog post, here.)
Working for simétrie has deepened my understanding of how this kind of emotional durability is as integral to sustainability as the physical durability of our garments and accessories. The bags crafted in the atelier are made to be used, to be filled, to be toted, to be loved as well as to last (and come with lifetime warranties to back it up, I might add). They are the kinds of bags I see as epitomising (though, I am biased) this newfound sense of value I rediscovered.
As we approach gift-giving in the Christmas season and beyond, I’m asking myself how I can prioritise giving my loved ones gifts like these bags I have been given and the ones I see being made here in the atelier. Gifts that your best friend, sister, mother, will cherish and that just maybe, even their great-grandchildren will too.
At the very least, maybe I can convince a few people to reconsider, like I have, their ‘handbag person’ status.
On that note, if you’d like to purchase a bag for a loved one (or yourself), click here and explore the simétrie collection (my personal favourite is the S Universal Tote / Night - a convertible bag that meets my aesthetic and versatility needs all at once.)