March 02 2011
Anya Hindmarch is one of Britain’s most successful handbag designers, posting record global retail figures of £35m last year and a growth rate of 20 per cent. Such success has brought her awards, an MBE and a role as UK Trade Ambassador – all of which implies big business that inevitably outgrows its individual origins. But, like some of the best of her Continental competitors, she also has a strong – and growing – bespoke area, to which her Pont Street shop in Belgravia is devoted.
Hindmarch’s bespoke has its origins in rather quirky versions of the genre: her early Be a Bag campaign, for which clients sent in favourite photographs to be printed on a canvas shopper, or the chance to have a personal, handwritten message engraved inside a leather bag or wallet. It has now blossomed into a much fuller service, where the customer comes for consultation and finds that the basic bag design is the only fixed parameter – she can choose skin (including exotics), colour, trims and metal, lining, inside-pocket configuration and so on.
The news now is that she just introduced her first men’s designs, available only at the Pont Street store – and mostly fully bespoke. Small items such as cuff-link boxes or a two-notebook leather journal with propelling pencil (£195) can be embossed with messages or initials, while the travel folio (from £330) and made-to-measure wallet (from £500; from £3,000 in exotic skins) can be constructed exactly to suit the client’s needs with drawings and a toile made first, not unlike a Savile Row suit.
But the pièce de résistance is a soft and understated businessman bag (pictured), a cross between a briefcase and a laptop bag (£1,095), designed in calf leather with magazine editor Dylan Jones to his exact specifications, but every client can configure it to his own needs and have the name of the contents of each pocket embossed. Hindmarch says her bespoke work is about “old-fashioned touches and finishes, personal details that you can cherish and hand down”. Combining that approach with the well-executed but more commercial bags that make up the bulk of those burgeoning sales figures indicates a very savvy operator.