Image: Ted Humble-Smith @ Hmmm...
October 03 2009
Lucia van der Post
There are lots of furrowed brows in the world of luxury these days. As many of the old certainties disappear, possibly forever, all the big honchos at the luxury goods companies are asking themselves: what can they possibly do to surprise and delight their picky customers?
They could start by looking at Anya Hindmarch’s new enterprise. She seems to be right on the button with her new notion of giving the customer something that, as she puts it, “is all about them and not about the designer at all”. She’s taking as her starting point a mantra that I have never known to fail – giving them the kinds of things that she herself loves: “I wanted to give them all the sorts of things that I’ve been giving as presents all my life, things that have memories in them, that are particular and personal.”
What this means in practice is that she is offering a bespoke service that will be a godsend for those looking for pieces to love and cherish, as well as things their nearest and dearest will want to treasure forever.
There will be two levels of service. At its simplest there will be a range of wallets, bags, jewellery cases and the like which can be embossed with initials or messages. There are also some especially enchanting jewellery boxes – lids and drawers can be lined with photographs printed on silk, and personal messages or doodles can be embossed onto the frame. The next layer of service offers something very much more precious – the ability to work with the craftsmen to create the piece of your dreams. You may perhaps once have had a wallet that belonged to your grandfather and you loved to bits that you’d like to replicate. Or perhaps you’ve never found one that really meets your needs.
After you’ve taken the wallet, or your dreams, along to the Anya Hindmarch shop in London to discuss what you’d like, you’ll be given drawings and then a toile which you take away and play with to see if it measures up to your vision.
You can tweak designs as much as you like, deciding on how many and how big the pockets or sections, selecting the skin (calf, crocodile, python – you name it), and the colour. Then you can have personal messages embossed onto it.
Prices for a wallet will start at £500 for a simple piece in calf and go up to £3,000 for the more exotic skins. Simple pieces will take 10 days, the more complicated special orders up to three months.
Hindmarch fans will be aware that she has always added wit and personality to her bags (think of Be A Bag, which enabled customers to sport pictures of their children, pets or houses, and which was a sensation in its day), but this is taking it to another level. Nothing is impossible.
The hub of the new world of bespoke is her Pont Street shop, where there will be a craftsman always ready to emboss. It is being turned into a shrine to the bespoke, a place where customers can come to help conjur up the wallet, the purse, the bag, the piece of luggage, the journal or jewellery box of their dreams. As Hindmarch herself puts it, “It’s going to be all about things that have meaning, that last forever – and that make you smile.”