The New Luxury: Bespoke Handbags - URBANETTE: Lifestyle Magazine & Blog


The New Luxury: Bespoke Handbags

Two unique handbag brands are showing us that getting exactly what you want can be better for the planet, too.


You’re an intelligent woman, and you know what you want out of life… from the man at your side to the handbag at your, um, other side. The only issue –and it’s a big one– is that very few things are tailored just for you. While you can’t get a hand-tailored man (science is still out on that one) you can get a bespoke bag that will speak volumes about your personally-refined taste — and even your socially and environmentally-conscious predilections.

The New Luxury: Bespoke Handbags

My bespoke 1 Atelier handbag, which I designed, shortly before it was made for me, by hand, in NYC

First and foremost, let’s cover the obvious reasons why bespoke handbags are the biggest upcoming thing in fashion accessories: they’re unique. If anyone has ever heard the song Gucci Gucci by Kreayshawn, you know that those big name brands are for basic bitches. Kreayshawn doesn’t even bother.

The new name in luxury and fashion is bespoke. Besides all of the environmental and social implications, which we’ll cover later, bespoke is the end of the line in quality and style. Brands like 1 Atelier and Laudi Vidni are passionately devoted to creating unique handbags that fit your personal tastes and lifestyle.

The New Luxury: Bespoke Handbags

So, how does it work? These brands have interactive websites that allow you to design your bag in real-time. Choose the bag style, materials, colors, and hardware and see it come to life right before your very eyes. As you create your bag, you can see the pricing tally up, so you’re not in for any surprises at the end. When I created my 1 Atelier handbag, I individually selected the top front panel, and bottom, left and right panels, the piping, the strap, the lining and hardware. At that point I could purchase, add to wishlist, or contact a stylist for advice.

The process of creating the bag is just as much fun as owning it. Strutting down your street –your very own red carpet– you have the distinct pleasure of answering an envious query about the origins of your exquisite handbag – “it’s my design.” Of course, you get a little help from the brands that actually tenderly stitch the bags together. You have the option of speaking to style specialists during the designing of your bag to ensure the best possible outcome. If they don’t think your design will look good in person, they will politely let you know and steer you back toward the drawing board. And, if you have any picky friends or family members, you can design a bag with them that will make them swoon.

The New Luxury: Bespoke Handbags

Laudi Vidni has a wide range of styles and materials to choose from. Their bags are handmade in Chicago.

Laudi Vidni was founded by two friends (and fellow Harvard Business School grads), Laura Kofoid and Grace Tsao-Wu, after they were struck by women’s unsatisfying relationships with their handbags. Mention a woman’s bag to her, and she will likely say, “I love this bag, but…” Grace and Laura started Laudi Vidni to get the answer “I love this bag. Period.”

The New Luxury: Bespoke Handbags

1 Atelier handbags at their factory/office/showroom in NYC

1 Atelier’s Master Craftsman, Anthony Luciano found his lifelong passion creating one-of-a-kind handbags at a young age. With a seamstress for a mother, and a carpenter as a father, Luciano’s passion for creating hand-crafted items is a simply a small detail in the fabric of destiny. With a craftsman such as Luciano, you can take it for granted that your handbag will not only be unique, it will be someone’s masterpiece.

All handbags are handmade by artisans in New York City, so you’ll never have to gasp at an unexpected Made in China tag. Being a socially responsible shopper, this also means you’ll never have to wonder whether the perfect stitching was done by a child in some overseas sweatshop. What’s more, each piece is lovingly handcrafted by hand-selected craftsmen and craftswomen.

The New Luxury: Bespoke Handbags

Passionate about bags: The NYC team behind 1 Atelier (craftsman Anthony Luciano, CEO Stephanie Sarka, and Creative Director Frank Zambrelli).

Luciano is one of the very few remaining bespoke craftsmen in the United States. This is not surprising, as the US is commonly dubbed a “throwaway culture.” Our economy rests on the simple predication that we must constantly consume in order to keep the money flowing. Many big name brands, even ones who tout quality, practice planned obsolescence, the intentional creation of products with parts or pieces that will fall apart over time. If you’ve ever experienced the strap of your favorite handbag snapping, or if you’ve ever sprained your ankle when one of your heels suddenly gave way, then you’ve experienced the unpleasant, sometimes embarrassing effects of planned obsolescence. When your bag breaks, you must buy a new one. I mean, where else are you going to keep your emergency tampons? Your pockets? Don’t be absurd.

The New Luxury: Bespoke Handbags

A gorgeous, bespoke Laudi Vidni saddle bag

To keep our consumerist economy running, we’re spiraling out of control with our irresponsible use of natural resources. An urban planner at the University of British Columbia, William Reese, made a startling estimation; that it “requires four to six hectares of land to maintain the consumption level of the average person from a high-consumption country.” If you don’t know what a hectare is, or why this is important, don’t fret. I didn’t either. So here’s the punchline: in 1990, there were only 1.7 hectares of available land for each person worldwide.

Bespoke changes all that. With each item made specifically for the client, there is no excess. No bags are tossed in the trash because they didn’t sell in time for the new collection’s release. Almost no materials are wasted, since only what’s needed is ordered and produced. Buying bespoke means you get a fabulous new handbag, meticulously checked for quality, with a side of good-samaritanism on top of all that. Bet you didn’t think your arm candy could be so impactful, eh?

Ariana is a writer and world traveler. Her writing covers her three main passions: women’s empowerment, travel, and culture. The beauty of the world is not just in scenic mountain views or turquoise waters; it’s in doing the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. For Ariana, that thing is stringing words together. Email her at and follow her journey on Instagram @surrealife.

Reader Discussion: 17 Comments

  1. Hilary, thank you for this wonderful post featuring 1 Atelier! This was a good press for us – right after this came out, we also got this feature article in Fast Company.

  2. Alice Harris

    A truly unique and well-made bag. I have been looking for a bag like this for such a long time. The leather is so soft yet durable and I can tell it will age well. I love this bag. It is so well made and it looks great.

  3. Cornelia Green

    Anthony Luciano makes the most well made and beautiful bags. He is a real craftsman. I love this bag so much I ordered another one in a different colour. You will never go wrong with these bags. I highly recommend him!

  4. Cho

    Sorry, but I would never pay an excessive amount for a handbag even if I became a millionaire overnight. “Exceptional skins” from a crocodile or other animals?! I care for these living creatures more! I personally think ladies who buy them definitely DON’T care about animals. So selfish.

    • Charleen Washington

      Maybe these brands will hear our cry and start offering some vegan leather options. It’d be great to get that kind of look and craftsmanship, but have vegan options.

    • Ariana Rhyder

      I agree. I just wish there were more vegan bag companies that made handbags this gorgeous!

    • Winona Miller

      I hear you! But I think the argument is that IF someone is going to buy a leather handbag anyway (and let’s face it, that’s what most women are carrying), that bespoke is a better way to go, since it uses less leather than big brands who toss out old inventory, over-order, etc.

  5. Well, yeah, I’m intelligent ’cause I know what I want and I definitely understand what I need! I spend on bags because I find them as ways of expressing myself and mood. I own 2 bespoke handbags and reading your article got me so excited that I want to checkout one today or tomorrow.

  6. Oh no!!! Why did I land to your page?!!! Such a temptation.

    I checked on the site and I’m loving these bespoke bags. I love the variety, I love the design choices. But wait, does this mean I have multiple personalities?! LOL

    I’d like to check out one today, but I’m having a hard time, which among the ones I customized to choose…

  7. I always aspire to be unique, I don’t care if it’s expensive or cheap, as long as I’m unique. This applies even to gift giving. I think bespoke bags are perfect gifts for my friends. My idea is to customize bags based on how I see them, how I interpret their personality. Excited!!!

  8. I always teach my students to spend wisely, be economical and practical. Now, I’ve read your article and bespoke bags are so appealing that I’d like to order now. I’m on 1Atelier site and I tried customizing my bag. If I do decide to make a purchase, am I still living what I teach?! *confused*

  9. This part made me laugh: “All handbags are handmade by artisans in New York City, so you’ll never have to gasp at an unexpected Made in China tag.”

    I was like, now I’d like to spend! LOL

  10. Love this article! You gave me an idea! Checking 1Atelier.

    Sure, I spend on expensive bags, I even spent hundred dollars on one bag which I really, really liked at first sight (and touch). It’s beautiful, not vulgar, no BIG obvious label. I bought it because I can and I liked it, I did not aim and NEVER aim to impress.

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