I love to walk or cycle around whatever city I am in. For both activities the best way to carry a bag is strapped across my body, but finding a chic cross-body style that is roomy enough to hold my laptop, an umbrella and a bottle of water is something that has confounded me in the past few years. Until recently, when I came across a new brand called V by Townsley and in particular its Nicola tote (£370), which puts an end to my quest with a spacious design incorporating a wide detachable strap. It’s sturdy enough to carry my weighty load of daily paraphernalia – and looks sharp while doing so. I can now travel by bike wherever my day takes me – to a meeting, restaurant, private view – and still look smart.
I opted for the versatile wine red version but it also comes in a buttery pecan tan – both of which, I was surprised to learn, are made from “vegan leather”, a feature that is at the core of the brand founded by London-based sisters-in-law Jo and Georgie Townsley. They wanted their designs to reflect their “belief in veganism, fair trade and sustainability… with the same allure and finish as luxury labels”. It took Jo (who previously worked at MaxMara) and Georgie (a producer of films and documentaries) a while to source their “dream material”, a technical Japanese fabric that mirrors real leather in terms of durability and finish.
There are currently three other V by Townsley styles, all of which are manufactured at an artisan family atelier in the Abruzzo region of Italy, and feature the same triangular construction. The wide Alexandra tote bag (£350) comes in wine red, graphite grey and pecan tan; the oversized Eden (£450) in graphite grey, pecan tan and lagoon blue; and the well-sized Isabella clutch (£230) also comes in a multicoloured version. All are simple, pared-back designs that dovetail with my eco-conscience.