Bag Icons putting the handcrafted back into hand-bag


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A new accessories company is putting the handcrafted back into hand-bag. John Finbarr and Asdrubal Barreto are two self-proclaimed ‘designer-makers’, whose unique leather bags are making the fashion industry personal again. Their limited range of stylized bags for women and men can be made to order and the personally, and often hand-sewn, designs means that each creation is unique. FLUX talks to John Finbarr about his distinctive new company.

What makes your company unique?

JC: We are ‘designer-makers’, and with that comes the uniqueness of contact with clients to engage wholly with their needs and special custom requests. Moreover, because we are both trained leather workers, and skilled in both machine manufacturing and traditional hand sewing techniques, we can work unusual and impressive design requirements around the realization of a bag, going from machines to hand when needed. Furthermore, our leather work training makes us thoroughly knowledgeable about the materials we are handling; their possibilities and limitations; which in turn feeds the release and control of our designs. We are unique in this respect and distinguish ourselves from most designers that do not make and probably cannot make such exquisite bags.

What inspirations do you draw on for your designs?

JC: This is a hard one to pin down. It’s like solving a murder mystery, looking for the first domino from which all others will fall. I would say that the idea for a bag hits us sporadically from all sorts of different sources – from items at manufacturer’s fairs, to a stitching technique.

What type of client are your bags for?

JC: Our clients are typified by having an innate, instinctual eye that instantly recognizes a Bag Icons product as one that combines a number of themes; quality materials, supreme Italian and British leathers, contemporary styled metal fittings, and meticulous attention to detail.

Your bags encompass a wide range of styles, from very high-fashion to more fun. Is the choice motivated by designer or clients?

JC: We are ‘designer-makers’, so we have ideas of our own, or our clients’ can change any aspect of the bag’s individual components; colour, stitching, type of leather used, right up to the point and during the completing process of making the bag. We are unique to the main brands in this so can give our clients much more participation in the final look of the Bag Icons product.

What is the signature style of Bag Icons?

JC: Rather than saying we have one signature, I would say we have different signatures with different clusters of bags. For example, the group of bags including the Armadillo, the Mask and the Churchill stretch boundaries and bare the edgy Bag Icons signature, whereas, on the other hand, we have groups of bags that are safe and risk free, but are notable for their adherence to the classic traditions of high fashion elegance in their inspiration. Mary, Supreme, Donna, Sofia, Snow are examples of the signature of using the finest quality of full grain leather, silk linings, sleek metal fittings – all embodied in contemporary shapes and colours. Other signatures like the Office, or Bertie have challenging broguing which are men’s shoe leather decorating techniques.

We are so pleased to have discovered Bag Icons that we just wanted to pass it on! So if you want a real artisan bag – big brands not required – try our new favourite luxury bag makers.

To place private orders, get in touch with John and Asdrubal. For contact details or to view the full collection see www.bag-icons.com.

By Charlotte M Davey

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