A dedication to Belen Echandia

One of our customers (and now a very dear friend) is a very famous and award-winning author in the romance genre. She hasn’t written a book for a very long time but she is working on a new one and she recently began turning all her work into e-books.  She had been emailing me for months to tell me of a surprise she had in store for us and this week it was finally revealed.  What a wonderful surprise it was: a dedication in one of her well-known books. The Barefoot Bride. Here it is.

“The wish for a beautiful gold pocketbook.  A lady in London, England.  A man in Ascoli Piceno, Italy.

How did the pocketbook, the lady, and the man mingle to become the premise of a novel?

Serendipity.

One must always be ready for the touch of Serendipity.  If you aren’t paying attention, it will pass over you, and then you will never know what extraordinary gift it might have bestowed upon you.

Almost four years ago I was looking for a well-made gold pocketbook to replace some factory-made bag I’d had that had fallen apart.  I love gold pocketbooks.  Shiny metallic gold pocketbooks!  During the search for my golden treasure I had no notion that Serendipity had begun its work of wonder for me.

I came to know a very creative woman in London, England.  A short while later, I became acquainted with a highly skilled man whose home and atelier (artist’s workshop) are in Ascoli Piceno, Italy.  I became quite close to these two wonderful and talented people.

The lady designed the golden pocketbook of my dreams.  Her enthusiasm, imagination, kindness, and extremely entertaining personality began to form a fictitious character in my writer’s mind.

The man created my golden pocketbook.  In his workshop in Italy, you will not find huge, fancy, complicated machines such as those near an assembly line.  To produce his leather masterpieces, he relies on methods that have been passed down to him from generations of his family.  His hands are magic, and his tools have been kissed by the ages.  I felt certain that Tuscan Fairies dwelled in his atelier, sprinkling the shop with bewitching pixie glitter.  Aha …  Yet another book idea twinkled into my mind.

The lady is Jackie Cawthra, owner of the luxury handbag company, Belen Echandia based in England.  The man is Marco Massaccesi of Pelletteria Massaccesi in Italy.  Not only have their combined efforts given me my truly-adored gold pocketbook, but their friendship, respective talents, and willingness to share their knowledge have helped me to conceive and research the premise for the brand new novel I am working on now.

Much love to you both, Jackie and Marco.

And to you, Sweet Serendipity, thank you forever and always and way beyond the end of time.

XXOO – Beckie”

 

 

 

Diffusion line bags to be added to last days of bespoke service

Last week I wrote about the demise of our bespoke service. So many of you wrote to express your disappointment, share stories, offer condolences and place orders.  We are so sad that our bespoke service must end (at least for now) but we are very happy to know how much the service has meant to so many of you and we are very happy that you have all come back to order your last bespoke bag.  I know that I am still trying to decide what I will order: perhaps a Stockholm Tote in black snakeprint, my favourite choice would have been a Stockholm in black bubble leather but we don’t have any left!  I may also order myself a satchel from the diffusion line because…

When we launched our diffusion line we decided that to keep costs down and simplicity high, we wouldn’t add it to the bespoke line-up.  But with just a week or so left of our bespoke service we have decided to allow bespoke orders on our diffusion bags too.  We wanted to let you know this as quickly as possible and we will add them to the site in the next day or so.  To enquire about ordering one meanwhile, please contact janelle(@)belenechandia.com, removing brackets.  The maximum discount on a diffusion line bag on any leather that is discounted is 10%.

P.S my favourites are the satchel and the hobo (see below).  They are both really great bags that can be made with any of our leathers.  The hobo is more of a casual bag and the satchel is more of a work style, but both work great for either, particuarly if you don’t have such a formal work environment.

Here is the hobo on the shoulder – as you can see it is a very comfortable bag with a lovely strap drop (which can be extended to suit all sizes):

I just love the handle on this bag, so detailed.

And here is the satchel. Again a great strap drop and really a classic style:

I just love this style of bag – so comfortable and classic and in a hot colour it will be my go-to bag. Very practical in saffiano with children as well as you can wipe it clean. I’m thinking of an orange one for myself.

The end of the bespoke service…for now

As you’ve probably read if you’re on our mailing list, we have had to suspend our bespoke service for now.  We are hoping to bring it back sometime in the future but we can’t promise anything.

We are really sad and sorry about this, but it is the way it has to be for now.  To sweeten the blow a little we are discounting some of the leftover BEC leathers we have left in stock. For the list of in-stock and discounted leathers, please send us a message and we will send it to you.

At this present time, we can guarantee that orders placed during the next week (until Friday 26 October) will be produced. This may be extended later on in the week if we possibly can (we are trying).  To be sure that your order is guaranteed, please order before Friday 26 October and if you’re not able to do that, please keep checking back here to see if we have managed to extend the last order date.

Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding.

Love, The BE Team.

Belen Echandia launches diffusion line

…Big news this week – we are launching a new line!

I’m so excited.  Next Wednesday 8th August 2012 we will launch our new diffusion line, B.E. for Belen Echandia.  We are all so, so, so excited!  Everyone keeps asking me about it and the inspiration behind it – and what the difference is between the diffusion line and our main line and well, I have received a lot of questions so I thought I’d write a quick blog post to share a bit more information.

I have always wanted to design a diffusion line.  I know that in recent years a sort of perfectionism has taken over and we have (among other things) added super polished zippers inside and out, started using some amazing, pretty expensive leathers and included details and add-ons that other brands would edit, edit, edit out (according to a friend who designs for a well-known upmarket brand, virtually all of our main line bags would be considered too expensive to produce).  I know that this has resulted in a fantastic product, but also one that is a bit more expensive than our initial collections and one that is out of the reach of some of our original customers.  I also know that there is demand from even our regular customers for a streamlined bag or two.

Our new line is a pared-down Belen Echandia aesthetic: a streamlined but lovely collection of bags in some fantastic colours.  Prices of the initial pieces range from £30 to £385.  This more accessible collection is actually a collaboration between Belen Echandia and the Italian artisans who hand-make each and every Belen Echandia bag.  Our artisans are the very soul of the brand and this endeavour further strengthens our support for them.

You may have already got the idea that we feel really strongly about using European, family-run artisans who create the most wonderful, beautiful quality bags. The economic climate has caused many accessories’ brands to relocate their production facilities to China in an attempt to slow the squeeze on margins caused by the mass of discounting of the last few years. This has put many European craftsmen out of business.  We are not willing to compromise on the incomparable quality of our workmanship nor to walk away from the loyal, talented artisans that have brought the brand this far. Our ethos is to connect you with local artisans and our new diffusion line, B.E. by Belen Echandia, helps to protect our atelier so that future handbag lovers can experience the quality of a hand-made piece.

The first bags in the new collection include two chic, wearable totes – one vertical and the other horizontal, a smart satchel and a soft hobo with detailed handle in the most fabulous of this season’s colours – an autumnal vermillion, a gorgeous petrol blue, a fiery red and a stunning light gold.  These gorgeous colours are hand-crafted into individual creations by our family-run Italian atelier in leathers such as saffiano textured calf and soft pebbled cowhide.

The main differences between our main line and this one are that this line is streamlined and easier to produce – there are very few time-consuming and expensive details – and that we have used different zippers and linings.  Some of the leathers will be the same – although most will be different – but we have not compromised on the quality of our leather. We hope you will agree that the result is a lovely collection of bags in some stunning colours at a more affordable price point.

Please note that our usual customization options are not available on this line.

If you can’t possibly wait until the bags hit the store for pre-order on Wednesday 8th August 2012, get in touch with Janelle Walters, our Personal Stylist, on janelle@belenechandia.com for more information.
To see all our lovely bags, click here.

2012 Trends: Transparency & Traceability

The other day I posted a link on Facebook to new Belgian website Honest By which puts pricing and sourcing transparency at the top of its agenda.  It provoked a great debate both on and off the page – some liked it and some didn’t, though the consensus amongst the fashion industry people who emailed me was that the pricing transparency could prove to be ‘too much information’ for many consumers.

One designer friend thought that full pricing transparency would lead to more people trying to find out who they know at a company to try to buy items at wholesale price for the simple reason that it is often difficult for consumers who are not business owners themselves to imagine all the costs behind producing and selling a product.  I certainly had no idea before I started Belen Echandia.  If you have a thought about this, let me know in the comments field below. This got me thinking about the relatively new trend for brand transparency and how 2012 seems set to be the year the concept will really enter mainstream consciousness. Several companies have offered up information about their “behind the scenes” for years, Belen Echandia being one of them, and more are set to launch.  I don’t think that this is a passing trend, it is here to stay. Companies are sharing more and more about their processes, their backgrounds, their procedures and even the way their products are made.

One example is the IOU Project, which aims to show the whole process behind its products, from the Indian weaver who weaved the fabric, to the artisan who worked on the product, to the final consumer. The IOU Project’s blog describes its initiative like this: “The IOU Project produces unique, handmade apparel based on fabrics handwoven in India. Because each textile is unique, we provide end buyers with the ability to trace the production process from finished goods right back to the weaver that hand-wove the fabric. The stories of how that item was created, of the people involved, of the customers who purchased them, are the essence of the the e-commerce social network which The IOU Project has built as a meeting place for a community that shares our brand values of authenticity, transparency, uniqueness and both social and environmental responsibility.” Another project that caught my eye is Sourcemap.

Jennifer Sharpe used Sourcemap, a free online tool which traces supply chains from manufacturer to consumer as part of her master’s thesis at Parsons.  In order to test the platform in a real-life setting she worked with John Patrick, the designer behind Organic. “I explained my work with Sourcemap, and my focus on clothing traceability, and John was completely receptive in allowing me to document and source-map his supply chain,” Sharpe told Ecouterre in a recent interview.

Sourcemap is a revolutionary fashion tool which allows you to track the production of everyday products from cradle to grave. According to Sourcemap itself:

“Consumers use the site to learn about where products come from, what they’re made of, and how they impact people and the environment. Companies use Sourcemap to communicate transparently with consumers and tell the story of how products are made. Thousands of maps have already been created for food, furniture, clothing, electronics and more.   Behind the public-facing website is a revolutionary social network-based approach to supply chain management.

Sourcemap works with organizations to increase visibility into their supply chains through a new generation of web-based software for traceability, monitoring and risk management. The lightweight, real-time social networking platform makes it possible to gather information from all of the stakeholders in a global supply chain so that – one day soon – you’ll be able to scan a product on a store shelf and know exactly who made it.”  Source: www.sourcemap.com (no pun intended).

Belen Echandia began showing the production process to customers a few years ago. We decided to set up a blog to show bespoke bags being made.  At the other end of the spectrum, we allow our customers to post pictures of themselves with their bags on our website.  In the coming weeks we will be turning our long-loved concept into a story board on our website. Which brings us to the next instalment and one of our absolute favourite 2012 trends:

STORY TELLING – Coming soon!

 

2012 Trends in Pictures: European/Local Production

The Merchant Fox – Made in England

Belen Echandia: Made in Italy

V.C. White Menswear – Made in Manchester, UK

Albam Menswear – Crafted in England

Hard Graft – Made in Germany

Fashion trends – do you take them or leave them?

Trends are fascinating things.  I think of them as stories, starting out as an idea that grows and builds as different people take hold of them and fashion them in different ways.  They tend to morph from one idea at the beginning of a season into something completely different at the end, leaving all but the most dedicated and the most creative struggling to keep up with the pace.

Trends tend to recur more often than we realize, making them more of an investment than they may initially appear.  Think about the number of times you have avoided buying something because it would date rather quickly, only to find that it carries over to the next season and a year later it is back on the trend radar again.  Animal prints are the perfect example of a trend that comes and goes, but never really goes away.

So how do you decide whether to spend your money on a fashion trend?  Since trends tend to get recycled very regularly, whether or not I buy into a trend has little to do with the fact that it is a trend that will quickly pass.  Instead, I base my buying decisions on other factors.  Is it flattering? Will it wash well?  Do I feel great in it? Will it blend into my wardrobe or does it need a whole new wardrobe of its own?

I believe that it is a mistake to be a slave to trends by buying into them just for the sake of it.  Your body is a blank canvas and what you dress it up in matters, because it reflects your personality.  So the most important factor in a buying decision for me isn’t what label it is, or whether it’s trendy or in fashion, it is whether it makes me feel good and I can pull it off with confidence.  One more thing – wearing a trend head-to-toe is never a good look.

 

2012 Trends – Eco fashion trends Part II

This blog post is part of a series on 2012 Trends.  You can find the first part of the Eco trends post here.

                                              Marco in his workshop in Le Marche, 2012

The Human Element

Belen Echandia has always been about the story behind the brand.  We provide full traceability of our products right down to pictures of every bag being made through to pictures of the final bag recipients, which they upload themselves online.  This is a big trend for 2012: customers want the human element, the story. How is the bag made, where is it made, who made it? They want to see, feel and touch every part of the process.

Sarah Scaturro, Textile Conservator of the Cooper-Hewitt national design museum said in a recent interview with www.ecoteurre.com “Over the past year I’ve noticed consumers veering away from purchasing clothing simply because it is made with environmental fibers and processes. Consumers now want a story. They want to know who made their garment, what makes it special, and how their purchase can have a positive social impact. In short, consumers want the human element.

Susan Cianciolo does this incredibly well, taking fabrics and garments that already have a meaningful history and reworking them, giving them new life so you can add your own imprint. Suno and Awamaki Lab are other examples of lines that center their mission around social elements.”

Belen Echandia also does this by allowing customers to give feedback and contribute to the design process, as well as custom ordering their own bag so that they can tell their own story.  As Ms Scaturro said in her interview with Ecoteurre “For clothing to become truly yours you need to understand its history and then you need to add your own chapter to the story”.

Quality triumphs quantity – the demise of fast fashion

I once lived with a girl who preferred to have twenty cheap handbags than two really nice ones.  We are all individual and there is nothing wrong with that, but my personal preference has always been for quality over quantity. If I couldn’t afford a really nice handbag, I would save up for it instead of buying a cheap one because I truly think that what we wear makes an impression on people. But the 2012 quality over quantity is about more than just judgement based on looks alone.  These days quality refers to how an item was produced, where it was produced and by whom: was the person who made your handbag paid a fair wage? Did he or she have time to wander out for lunch and get a break from standing up all day?  Was it produced with quality materials, made without dangerous chemicals that could endanger lives?

Another very important element of Belen Echandia bags has always been practicality – how will it be used? Does it work for that purpose? Can it be carried comfortably? Does it fit what you need? Is it a multitasking bag with various ways of wearing it?

In a similar interview on Ecouterre, Leslie Hoffman, the executive director of Earth Pledge predicted that quality and practicality would triumph over fast fashion in 2012 and the future.  Buy less, but better.  Buy things you love and which make you feel great and in Leslie’s words “dispense with trying to satisfy yourself through consumption”.

We couldn’t agree more.

For more articles and fashion inspiration visit our Facebook page.

To read reviews of our bags and more about the background behind our brand as well as fashion and more, visit our Online Magazine.

For more of my thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects, please subscribe to my updates – Jackie Cawthra.

Pop-up stores with a difference

In this article I wrote about the convergence of offline and online retail.  Now pop-up stores, which were once the territory of small companies, are being used in a new way by multi-channel retail brands seeking to obtain an advantage over their competitors using the latest interactive technology to reduce the risk of opening stores.

Online fashion sites Net-a-Porter and MyWardrobe have both employed “virtual shopping windows” to create a physical space for their brands. In January, Net-a-Porter promoted the launch of its new venture with Karl Lagerfeld by opening reality pop-up shop windows in New York, London, Berlin, Paris and Sydney.  The purpose was to create a buzz around the launch, but the pop-up concept can be used in numerous ways.

 MyWardrobe of the “Everyday luxury” fame used a virtual shopping wall in Oslo to launch its online business in Norway. The window display was the first to be powered by Microsoft’s Kinetic technology, which is often used by gaming companies.  The storefront became an interactive version of My Wardrobe, which shoppers controlled.  Customers could browse the site just by waving their hands in front of it.  The new industry darling, QR codes, were then used to send shoppers to the Norwegian mobile site to buy online.

Kirsty Glenne, head of Scandinavia at MyWardrobe, says the initiative brought a new dimension to its online shopping experience. “It gave a taster of the brand and it made the website jump out and become real. It was really important for launching in a new market”.

Most interestingly of all, the window display was temporary but the offline store remains in Oslo as a showroom to enable MyWardrobe to supplement its website with a click-and-collect service.

Department stores John Lewis and House of Fraser have launched similar click-and-collect initiatives in the past year, which John Lewis’ marketing director Craig Inglis says will be its “most multichannel service yet”.  He thinks that combining capital streams (on and offline) is the way of the future.

Storytelling

Although the opportunities offered by technological advancements give retailers virtually unlimited opportunities to reach out to new audiences, and increase engagement, there are other options.

Online shoe retailer StylistPick used a more traditional approach in Westfield’s White City mall when it opened its first pop-up store in February.  Its subscribers complete a style questionnaire and StylistPick then uses this to select a  personalised accessories collection, which its members receive each month.  The brand used the temporary installation to extend its reach, inviting members to meet its stylists face-to-face and browse its range, which included Cheryl Cole’s exclusive shoe collection.  Cole was present during the event, hosting an in-store evening so that members could meet her in person..

The temporary installation was created to give Stylistpick the opportunity to meet its customers and form relationships according to Juliet Warkentin, StylistPick’s chief creative officer.  Originality was key and storytelling was the main theme – communicating product messages in a new way.”

Whether it involves bringing an online brand into the physical space temporarily or captivating new audiences with new and unique stores, expanding in new ways through a mixture of channels the current trend and the one companies are banking on to make them stand out from their competitors.  This could be a genius idea if well-executed with the right budget, but it may be risky territory to hold so many balls in the air, for those who are operating on a shoe-string.  The most important factors (in my humble opinion) are likely to be the size of the budget, the ideas brands prioritize and the partners they select.

For more articles and fashion inspiration visit our Facebook page.

To read reviews of our bags and more about the background behind our brand as well as fashion and more, visit our Online Magazine.

For more of my thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects, please subscribe to my updates – Jackie Cawthra.

 

2012 Trends – Eco fashion trends Part I

This blog post is part of a series of blog posts on new trends for 2012.

Jackie and an artisan in Otovalo, circa 2006

1. Local Production & artisan craftsmanship

Artisan production has long been important as a brand value for Belen Echandia but 2012 is the year when bigger brands embrace it as a trend, both in marketing and advertising efforts and as inspiration for clothing and accessories.  The big question for me is do they really mean it or are they doing it as a marketing exercise?  It is lovely to see Chanel bags made in an atelier in France, but to what extent does this tell the whole story? This remains to be seen and we are interested to see how it unfolds.

2. Sustainability

As consumers want to know more and more about their purchases – how and where they are manufactured and by whom, the fashion industry is moving towards a model of greater transparency and sustainability.  Consumers are buying less and less, but better quality.  They want to know that companies are paying a living wage and the careful use of precious resources.

More and more companies will incorporate environmental checks and display these in a transparent
 way. More companies will become Carbon Neutral.  There will be an increase in social enterprises which address a social objective, such as The Supply Change.  This company connects artisans in developing economies to the global marketplace.   Other such projects include Afia, the IOU Project and Suno, which work with traditional craftspeople in a modern, fashion-forward way the same way Belen Echandia does.

The Demise of Fast Fashion

Amy Dufault, the managing editor of Eco Salon, sai in a recent interview  “I see the trend of fast fashion slowly (very slowly) waning as more well-researched stories are published on it and mainstream consumers can see in a new light just what the implications of fast fashion are.

I hope in my heart of hearts that we are good humans who want to support fair trade, women’s rights, and smaller carbon footprints and not slave labour and catastrophic environmental degradation. That we can garner a conscience and even a little more creativity in how we present ourselves to the world clad in our personal, daily costumes. That despite the world going to hell in a hand basket, there is always the drumming of a band of young men and women designers, artists of the cloth, who want to make a difference as to how those clothes make it to you, how they make an impression on you, and that you accept and support them.

Fingers crossed (again).”

I also hope that 2012 will be the year when consumers really get behind the independent brands that truly care about artisan production and quality and not just profits.  Here’s to that!

Coming up next week in Part II:

  • The trend towards sustainable materials
  • The growing demand for handmade, vintage and recycled fashion
  • The Human Element; and
  • Quality triumphs quantity

For more articles and fashion inspiration visit our Facebook page.

To read reviews of our bags and more about the background behind our brand as well as fashion and more, visit our Online Magazine.

For more of my thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects, please subscribe to my updates – Jackie Cawthra.

Sale updates

We will be posting regular updates on the blog throughout the 3-Day Sale and sample sales. Check back here regularly to see our latest update

Thursday 10 May, 2012 8.30 GMT

One of our sale customers has received her Copenhagen backpack in oak and sent us a picture:

See more pictures on our Facebook page

Wednesday 9 May, 2012 19.30 GMT

We are down to just one Covet Me in mandarin now.  This bag is unlikely to be made again, for anyone considering a pop of colour in a bag.

Not a 3-Day Sale update, but we just had an order in for the last of the black snakeprint, so that leather is now unavailable for custom bags.

Wednesday 9 May, 2012 8.10 GMT

Google just told us that one of our customers has reviewed her red Paris Tote Midi on a blog. We often hear back from happy customers but it is lovely to see someone recommending us and our products so enthusiastically. See the post here: Effenhaute.

The Covet Me Mini samples in anthracite, tan and black have sold out overnight.  There are just a few sample bags left in the sale now.

Tuesday 8 May 1, 2012 6.50 GMT

The Make Me Smile in Cream and the Make Me Smile Midi in cream are now sold out.  We are down to one chestnut shimmer LA Satchel.

Tuesday 8 May, 2012 – 12.20 GMT

There is now only one Petrol Whisper To Me Midi bag left. Get it before it is gone, because it is unlikely this style will pop up again.

Tuesday 8 May, 2012 – 10.40 GMT

The off-white Make Me Smile bags are now sold out.  We found one remaining Flirt With Me in white pony skin in the sample box, so we’ve added that to the sample section.

Tuesday 8 May, 2012 – 9.10 GMT

We have just been notified following an overnight stock check that there is another anthracite Covet Me Mini available:

Tuesday 8 May, 2012 – 8.46 GMT

The whiskey bucket bags, the sand Barcelona midi and the sand Paris Tote have now sold out.  We have located a couple more samples and we have added the cream Make Me Smile Mini to the sample sale.  Here is a picture of Janelle with the Rio Satchel, which is one of the travelling bags she can send to you to try.  Note that it still has the protective paper on the ends of the drawstring.  This bag is a personal favorite of mine.  It looks a little stiff here but it really isn’t at all. It just needs its owner to wear it a little to soften it up.

 

Monday 7 May, 2012 – 22.38 GMT

We have just added a couple of new things to our sale.  This chestnut Madrid satchel is new to our website but it is included in our 3-day sale:

Buy it for yourself here:

Chestnut Madrid Crossbody Bag

 

Bonobos + Nordström = the fashion innovation of the future

Andy Dunn – Picture Source New York Times

Andy Dunn was involved with the founding of Bonobos five years ago. One of his main aims was to shake-up the retail industry with a men’s wear brand only sold online.  But a new innovation is emerging in the land of luxury fashion, with brands like Bonobos forming strategic partnerships with traditional brick-and-mortar retailers like Nordstrom, the 111-year-old department store.

Both parties describe the deal as symbiotic.  Nordström wants access to Bonobos’ online marketing expertise and Bonobos will get $16.4 million of Nordströms cash and more than 100 stores to sell its clothes.

“We’ve been thinking about where growth is going to come from across all retail over the next 10 years,” said Jamie F. Nordstrom, the head of Nordstrom.com and the great-grandson of the company’s founder to the New York Times. “And certainly square-footage growth is not where that growth is coming from.”

As more and more consumers shop online, brick-and-mortar retailers and fledgling e-commerce sites realize that they can form strategic partnerships.  The pace and landscape of retail is changing and what may surprise many is that traditional retailers, with all the resources in the world, just haven’t managed to keep pace with the innovative mentality of internet start-ups. At the other end of the spectrum, Internet companies are starting to see the benefits of teaming up with well-established marketing partners with substantial resources and distribution networks.

Nordstrom has been among the most successful retailers online. Last February, it paid $180 million for Hautelook, the first of takeover of a sales site by a traditional retailer. The retailer is also changing its main website, introducing same-day shipping and placing 6,000 mobile hand-held devices in its stores to enhance the customer’s shopping experience.

The company will invest $140 million on e-commerce this year, a 40 percent increase from 2011.  Over the next five years, it intends to devote almost $1 billion, or roughly 30 percent of its capital expenditures, on boosting e-commerce growth.

Nordstromwas initially interested in a typical distribution deal with Bonobos, a brand bought by well-to-do professionals who like crisp plaid shirts and red chambray pants. But the retailer found a greater interest after examining Bonobos’s operations and how it engaged with its online audience. Mr. Nordstrom was particularly impressed with Bonobos’s mail-outs which included customized elements and links to quirky You Tube videos, which appealed to Bonobos’s male clientele.

Nordstrom’s new online strategy has already reaped rewards for the company.  In the last year, the company has improved the personalization and targeted customer emails, mirroring efforts by HauteLook. This has increased engagement “pretty significantly,” according to Mr. Nordstrom. The executives at HauteLook, along with the team at Bonobos, will also help the company design new applications for mobile devices and Nordstrom.com.  The new relationship could be equally advantageous to Bonobos, which is dealing with rising competition online.

In its early years, the business grew fast, supported by word-of-mouth marketing. But as Bonobos grew it began to spend more money on advertisements to attract new customers. By 2011, the company was devoting about 20 percent of its revenue to marketing, about double the previous year.  Finding new clients became more and more difficult.

Bonobos’ hope is that teaming up with Nordström will help Bonobos gain new clients, particularly those who don’t usually shop online. Although Nordstrom may cannibalize some of Bonobos’s existing sales, Mr. Dunn, the company’s chief executive, said any loss in direct sales would be offset by the marketing benefits.

“It was foolish to contain this brand in one channel,” he said. “For so long we were operating like we were so different from store-driven retailers, but we are more similar.”

For more articles and fashion inspiration visit our Facebook page.

To read reviews of our bags and more about the background behind our brand as well as fashion and more, visit our Online Magazine.

For more of my thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects, please subscribe to my updates – Jackie Cawthra.

 

This Week’s Discovery: Johnny’s Cupcakes – a successful online-only fashion store with great brand appeal

This week’s discovery is Johnny Cupcakes, a brand most people have probably never heard of due to its still fairly unique distribution method: online-only selling.  Johnny’s brand story is one of the best I have read in a while, which is why I want to share it with you.

According to Johnny, the brand began as a joke.  Whilst working in a comic store called ‘Newbury Comics’ he earned several nicknames, from ‘Johnny Pancakes’ to ‘Johnny Cupcakes’.  One fine day in 2001 he decided to make his own t-shirt to make fun of this nickname.  He decided to turn a skull and crossbones into a cupcake and crossbones and he wore the t-shirt to work as a joke.  Almost instantly his fledgling t-shirt business was born, when customers and colleagues began asking if they could buy a t-shirt.  Johnny began sneaking out of work to sell the t-shirts from the back of his beat up ’89 Toyota Camry.  At the time, he and many of his customers were in bands and the word began to spread about Johnny Cupcakes’ t-shirts as those musicians wore his t-shirts on tour.  As the company began to take off, he decided to focus on the business full-time.

Having traveled to various shows and taken orders from large department stores from Urban Outfitters to Nordstroms, Hot Topic, Macy’s and Metropark, Johnny suddenly had an epiphany. He actually didn’t want his t-shirts to be available everywhere.    Instead, he wanted to keep them limited and exclusive and keep the prices down, avoiding the huge retail mark-ups retail stores add to the cost of a product.

Johnny’s first retail store opened in 2005 in his hometown of Hull, Massachusetts.  His next store opened on “Boston’s Rodeo drive”– 279 Newbury Street. This is the same street as stores like Marc Jacobs and Chanel. Johnny says on his website “Opening this store was a dream come true”.  In 2008 he was voted America’s #1 Young Entrepreneur of 2008 by BusinessWeek magazine.  He points out on his website that he also gives back, which we love

“I’ve lectured at big universities, small colleges, high schools, and at non-academic seminars all over the world. These lectures focus on how to start and maintain an original business without any startup money or other resources. I have a lot of generally useful advice– like how to use both the web and retail space effectively, the importance of art, graphic design, creative packaging and other often overlooked details, how to create a lot of word of mouth excitement behind your business, and brand longevity.   ut in these lectures I also cover less conventional dimensions of my brand– things that have made me stand out in the crowd. For example, how a drug-free lifestyle has really helped me develop my business, my own creative types of viral marketing, and my unique and carefully crafted shopping environments. My goal in these lectures is to inspire all sorts of people to persistently work toward their goals. Young or old, students or faculty, entrepreneurial types or not, I show what a simple idea (and a ton of hard work) can do. Teaching, inspiring, and motivating people in this way has become very important to me. It makes me feel like I’m doing more than just making t-shirts. “

I love everything about the Johnny cupcakes brand, from his rags to riches story and the fact that he employs his parents to the way he decided to break free from convention and go his own way, selling his t-shirts online to keep prices low and quality high.  More on that later.

Have a great day!

Jackie XXXX

 

For more articles and fashion inspiration visit our Facebook page.

To read reviews of our bags and more about the background behind our brand as well as fashion and more, visit our Online Magazine.

For more of my thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects, please subscribe to my updates – Jackie Cawthra.

 

Honest-By’s new transparent pricing model

We discovered a new online website this weekend with a special concept.  The project is called ‘Honest By’.

This is how ‘Honest By’ describes itself on its website:

“HONEST BY IS A PIONEERING COMPANY LAUNCHED IN JANUARY 2012.THE COMPANY IS UNIQUE IN COMMUNICATING ABOUT THE SUPPLY CHAIN OF ITS PRODUCTS AND PRICING.

Bruno Pieters conceived Honest by during a sabbatical from the fashion industry in Southern India. An award-winning designer and art director, Pieters spent 2010 exploring the developing world, an experience that profoundly affected his personal philosophy and his thinking about fashion. Observing how native people wore clothes that were grown, woven and sewn from sources they could identify around them, he wondered if such transparency could be operated on an international scale when making designer products. On his return to Antwerp Pieters began to work on a radical new concept.

Honest by is the first company in the world to share the full cost breakdown of its products. The word Honest refers to the way in which the Honest by store operates, with a 100% transparency policy. The concept behind Honest by offers designers and brands a public platform to share their own design processes; utilizing the extensive research Honest by has already conducted on organic fabrics and suppliers. Those we collaborate with share their personal production information from yarn and button origin to fabric and manufacturing details; information which honest by then communicates to the client. Every part of the collaboration process is transparent including the store mark up calculations. In communicating all information regarding a garments production process; Honest by wants to shed light on the questions: where is it made and by whom.”

At the bottom of each product is a ‘Price Calculation’ explaining the margins – a €953 ($1246) Bruno Pieters jacket (which they explain is an online-only reduced rate) costs just €197 euros ($257) to produce.

How do you feel? Does the transparency inspire you to buy, or make you feel a little cheated when you hear how high store margins can be?

Please share your thoughts below.

For more articles and fashion inspiration visit our Facebook page.

To read reviews of our bags and more about the background behind our brand as well as fashion and more, visit our Online Magazine.

For more of my thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects, please subscribe to my updates – Jackie Cawthra.

 

Belen Echandia Sales: 3-Day Sale 2012

Belen Echandia is bringing back the 3-Day Sale!  This year our 3-day sale will run from Monday 7 May to Thursday 10 May inclusive, with up to 35% off. For more information visit the Belen Echandia handbag website.

Raf Simons is Dior’s new Creative Director – what does that mean for the brand?

Raf Simons, the 44-year-old Belgian designer is the new artistic director of luxury brand Christian Dior.

As the Creative Director of Belen Echandia, I thought it might be interesting to discuss the topic of what the role of a creative director involves, as I am often asked.  The ‘artistic director’ of a fashion brand works as both a marketer and a designer. It is often more of a business role than the name would first imply.

My role as creative director of Belen Echandia not only involves designing handbags and accessories but also formulating the messages we want customers to take away with them when they visit our website, blog or Facebook page or interact with us via email.  For bigger brands this might also include the brand’s Vogue advertising campaign or the style of its corporate headquarters.  At Dior, Raf Simons will almost certainly be the chief marketing officer.

The results of having a talented creative at the helm of a company can be astounding, particularly when the brand owners and its creative director share a creative vision.  A couple of good examples are Stuart Vevers for Mulberry and Christopher Bailey for Burberry. I didn’t think Burberry would ever recover from the chav-bashing it took a few years back, but Mr Bailey has truly managed to turn the brand around with edgy designs and a sophisticated appeal which clearly talk to its target audience.

The question is, can Simons do the same for Christian Dior? Simons has quite a different aesthetic from the current brand, which under previous creative director John Galliano was at the most haute end of haute couture.

Galliano was an outrageous creative director in more ways than one. He stunned clientele with his fairytale designs, positioning Dior and fashion itself as a fantasy, a wonderful escape from everyday reality. By contrast Simons’ work at Jil Sander involved pared-back  designs.  Is Dior going for a more elegant approach, as Christian Dior himself once did?  This could be wonderful for Dior, but it may also be difficult to make it work for Dior’s current core customer.

This will be a very interesting story in 2012, something which we can all watch unfold.  I for one am not a big fan of Galliano’s Dior – Simons’ aesthetic appeals to me far more, but it remains to be seen whether the convergence of a brand with the vision of a creative director whose approach and appeal are so different will be a success.

Jackie x

For more articles and fashion inspiration visit our Facebook page.

To read reviews of our bags and more about the background behind our brand as well as fashion and more, visit our Online Magazine.

For more of my thoughts and opinions on a variety of subjects, please subscribe to my updates – Jackie Cawthra.

 

The New Luxury

The New Luxury

                                                                                                      Photo by Marco Massaccesi

Luxury is not what it was. After many years of superficial luxury: overt logos and brand names, which began in the 80s with large conglomerates taking over luxury fashion brands and commercializing them, luxury consumers are looking for something more. Belen Echandia calls this ‘New Luxury’.

New luxury is about experiences and not just products. New luxury is handbags produced in traditional ways by true artisans.  It is about craftsmanship, heritage and personalized service.

Intelligent consumers want to go beyond the logo on their bags and accessories. They demand a deeper understanding of the products they buy. Intelligent consumers want to know how, where and by whom their handbags and wallets are made. Goods produced without respect for those making them, what they are made from and how they are made are by definition not luxury goods.

Belen Echandia has identified a number of key New Luxury trends.

1. Experience

Experience is a very important part of buying a luxury product. In years gone by that meant visiting a handbag atelier or store and receiving the red carpet treatment. In today’s world it is just as likely to mean personalized attention to your needs by email or telephone, but the meaning is the same – the focus is on the consumer. To truly serve its customers, a company must have in-depth knowledge of its customers.

2. Customization

Intertwined with experience, customization is the opportunity for consumers to get exactly what they want. True luxury companies focus on individual needs and wants and do everything they can to give consumers what they want.

3. Integrity

Luxury is not just about a logo, a brand name and a price. In truth, it never has been. Traditional, old luxury companies were known for their meticulous attention to detail, expensive, luxurious materials and customer service. But in Deluxe Dana Thomas explains how, in the middle of the 80s, big business started to buy up luxury handbag and fashion companies and turn luxury products into commodities.

In her book, Thomas explores today’s high-end shopping experience and asks some important questions: “What is the new definition of luxury when advertising is targeted mainly toward the mass market? What are we paying for when quality has given way to quantity? Can integrity survive in a corporate culture driven to meet regular growth and profit projections? Is luxury still the best that money can buy?”

New Luxury is about going back to what matters most – heritage, respect, attention to detail and quality. Goods produced without integrity are not luxury goods at all.

4. Uniqueness

True luxury must have an element of uniqueness. It is no fun walking around as a replica of someone else. It must have a certain exclusivity – although others may own the same product, to be truly luxurious it must not be ubiquitous. Customizing a handbag is the perfect example of uniqueness – in many cases you will be the only person with that exact bag. Rarity is a luxury, but more than anything, luxury is the ability to personalize a product, to add your own stamp and to participate in its production.

5. Purpose

Whilst luxury is to some extent superfluous, it must also have an element of purpose. It is truly luxurious to find a handbag which looks and feels luxurious and whose designers have thought carefully about how you will use it. Determining what consumers need from their bags should be a large part of the design process.

6. Passion

Luxury goods must be produced with an element of passion, of love for the work that goes into them. It is the opposite of the cold nature of a production-line process. Human craftsmanship, the fingerprint of the artisan, knowing that your goods were produced by a real person putting real care and attention into the work they do for you.

Jackie Cawthra is the Founder and Creative Director of Belen Echandia, a socially responsible handbag and fashion brand based in London. 

Belen Echandia bags are produced exclusively by expert artisans in an Italian atelier. All Belen Echandia bags are produced with integrity and attention to detail.  The company is the only luxury company to offers a full bespoke online customization service on Italian-made handbags.  Every style is available to custom order, just how you like it.  The Company has been featured in major fashion magazines such as Vogue, Instyle and its bags have graced the front cover of Grazia on several occasions.

Belen Echandia’s Tan Bubble Chevre Challenge

Belen Echandia’s tan bubble chevre leather is put to the test in this short video.  We tested sharp nails, water and then lip gloss on the surface of this leather to see whether we were able to create a mark.  Admittedly it may be better to try not to scratch your bag, get it wet or smear lip gloss on it, but just in case you do, see the results here:

Belen Echandia’s Chevre Challenge

We also had a customer do a test and she took these still shots:

Leather pre-test

Step 1. Attempting to scratch leather with sharp nails

Scratches on leather

Close-up of scratched leather

Close-up of leather after scratches have been buffed out

Step 2. Let’s put the leather under the tap

Pouring water on leather

Leather post-bath

Leather test

Step 3. Leather dry again – let’s stain it with lip gloss

Lipstick stain on leather

Leather post-test – it did well!

 

N.B. It recently came to our attention that some customers may not be aware that just as there are many kinds of different chevre as there are cowhide.  For the avoidance of doubt, chevre is the skin of a goat in the same way cowhide is the skin of a cow.  The leather is then processed in various ways to create different kinds of leather, each with their own characteristics.  Comparing our Dixan Chevre to our Bubble Chevre is like comparing our sheen cowhide to our pebbled cowhide.  This video applies to the tan bubble chevre that is currently on our website.

Sourcing leathers for individual bespoke orders: an update

We’ve had a recent flurry of interest in our ability to source different leathers than the ones we have in stock.  As you all know, we are utterly committed to providing the most individual service we possibly can and we will continue to do so.  However, this incurs substantial extra costs for us, which we have not taken into account with our current pricing.

Ordering a special leather for a customer incurs extra costs in sourcing, buying and transporting a small quantity of leather (smaller quantities are more expensive to buy and ship), as well as leftovers, which are costly.  In order to continue to offer this fantastic and unique service, we have decided to ask customers to contribute an extra 30 GBP/40 USD to partially cover these extra costs of this unique bespoke service.  This cost will be waived if the customer wishes to order a second bag in the remaining leather.  For goatskin orders this is lowered to an extra 15 GBP/25 USD as goatskins are very small and we have fewer leftovers.  Where possible we buy small skins, so where we can (if a skin is small and we don’t have any leftovers) we will waive the leftovers charge and charge the lower amount.

Please note that we will continue to pay this for our Platinum and Diamond customers for one and two orders per year respectively as part of our loyalty program.

We thank you for your support and understanding as we do our best to continue providing the very best service and experience that we possibly can.

The Belen Echandia Team

XXX

Style Chat Fridays

Belen Echandia is introducing a new concept: Style Chat Fridays.  We love chatting about the latest trends and comparing notes in the office and we also get lots of questions about the latest fashion trends, how to wear particular styles of bag and how to incorporate different looks.  So we decided to make a Style Chat part of our regular Facebook line-up.

Each week we will be discussing a different style topic – something that has caught our eye or a question raised by one of our customers.  We’ll be asking questions as well as answering them, showcasing different looks and ideas and also showing how bags can be incorporated into different trends.

Please send your questions to janelle (@) belenechandia.com. The more the merrier! And please join us every Friday on Facebook – the chatter will be going on throughout the day.

Have a great week!

The BE Team XOXOX

The making of a collection: Belen Echandia Rio Bag

RIO is our casual, slouchy bag of this season.  Simple yet detailed, comfortable to wear and also practical, Rio is just like its namesake city: stylish, carefree, vibrant and happy.  This bag can be worn crossbody or on the shoulder. The easy access and secure front pocket is great for storing your phone, keys or wallet or your bus pass – anything you need to access quickly.

Leather bucket bag | leather satchel | Belen Echandia

The drawing was so perfect that we didn’t change much when making the final design.  Our chosen clasp was out of production so we included the newest version in our final sample.  The biggest change we made was to lengthen the strap, so that it is longer at each side, which gives a more balanced look and allows it to be worn crossbody most comfortably.

We do hope that you love it as much as we do.  Please let us know what you think.

Leather bucket bag | leather satchel bag | Belen EchandiaSee more pictures and read more about our RIO bag on the Belen Echandia website.

Travelling Bags

Our creative team came up with a new idea this week. Well not exactly a totally new idea, in fact it is an idea that has been floated before and even suggested by a couple of customers over the years, but one that has never been considered as a part of our business before. The idea is…travelling bags.  No, not travel bags. Bags that travel to meet you so that you can make a more informed decision about which custom bag to select, or which stock bag to purchase.

So whilst we are not sending our bags on holiday, we do recognize that it is very difficult for new customers to get a good idea about the quality and workmanship of our bags just by looking at a picture on the internet. We also know from feedback from our regular customers that it is equally hard for regular customers to judge the size and proportions of our newer styles online. So we came up with the idea of having one bag of each style available each season, for customers to request to try out before buying.

The bag will travel with swatches of the leather colours it is available in and details of how to place your order online.  We have now launched this in beta in the UK to much success (pictures coming soon) and we will be launching our US initiative soon. At present we are sending bags without swatches unless you specifically request a swatch and it is available, but the full service will be available soon.

We would love to hear your feedback and any other ideas you have.

Wishing you a wonderful 2012.

The BE Team. XXX

SS12 Preview: Belen Echandia’s spring collection – The Paris bag

The final brand new bag from Belen Echandia’s spring collection (see the full line sheet here) is the Paris Tote.  The Paris is a sturdy yet comfortable lightweight shoulder bag with a top zipper and messenger strap. It looks and feels wonderful on the shoulder, the elbow and when worn as a cross body bag.  We’ve had a few questions about whether this bag is extra heavy because of the decorative buckles on the sides – the answer is no.  

The weight of this bag is just 950 grams, which is similar to or lighter than a lot of our bags. This bag has very little hardware and what it does have is lightweight, making it a very comfortable bag to wear.  Here is a close-up shot of the Vermillion leather and the details on the Paris.

Here is an inside shot. *Please note* this is the first sample we produced, before we decided to add a top zipper. All Paris Totes produced after this one have a top zipper as well as the magnets, for added security. The buckles on the sides are merely decorative and not used to close the bag in any way.

We’ve called this bag a tote for want of a better word, but it is not really a tote in the “jute tote” sense, rather it’s a sturdy shoulder bag which has slightly more structure than other BE bags, whilst remaining soft against the body.

Belen Echandia’s SS12 Collection: The Copenhagen Backpack

Inspired by chic Scandinavian ladies wearing sporty backpacks with their high heels and smart coats, the Copenhagen is Belen Echandia’s very first backpack style bag and is designed to give those who need or prefer to wear a bag on both shoulders a chic alternative to black nylon. The first sample was almost perfect, but to make it even more comfortable to carry, we’ve added padded folded handles with no painted edges to both the back straps and the top handle. We have also widened the back straps a little to add extra comfort.

The clasp on the Copenhagen backpack is designed to make it more secure on your back than other backpacks, as it is impossible to undo it without you noticing. At the same time it is very easy and convenient to open with a quick squeeze once the bag is off your back.

Here are a few pictures of the original version in plain canvas with tan accents. As soon as we have photographs of the new version we will upload them:



Belen Echandia’s SS12 collection: The Florence

The Florence is a gorgeous little cross body satchel. It has a slightly more structured look than our bags usually do, but it remains comfortable and soft against the body. Since the first question we are asked with small to medium bags is how much can be carried inside them, we thought an interior shot of this bag would be useful. Here you can see that despite its compact size Belen Echandia’s Florence bag has 3 separate compartments to help you stay organized. Here’s what we put into the large compartment:

1. Python wallet;
2. Small 7″ (18cm) tablet computer;
3. Business card holder full of cards; and
4. Phone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was still a little space to fit a few more things in the inside zip and/or front pocket, and as you can see from the picture below, it doesn’t look at all packed out from the side, either. The Florence was another fashion editor’s favourite at our press day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a couple of our professional pictures to show you how it looks inside and close-up. There is also a spin shot on our website and we’re hoping to snap a quick picture of one of us wearing it shortly so you can get an idea how it looks ahead of our campaign shots.

 

Belen Echandia’s SS12 Collection Continued: The RIO

RIO is Belen Echandia’s slouchy bag for the SS12 season.  Simple yet detailed, comfortable to wear and also extremely practical and wearable, Rio is just like its namesake city: stylish, carefree, vibrant and happy.  This bag can be worn across the body or on the shoulder. The easy access and secure front pocket is great for storing your phone, keys or wallet or your bus pass – anything you need to access quickly.  This new clasp is very chic.  The slightly padded detail on the top of the flap matches the details on some of our other new styles, like the Barcelona and the Copenhagen backpack. This bag can be worn on one shoulder or across the body.

I snapped this picture recently whilst in Beijing, thinking that you would all like to see how it looks when worn across the body. We’ll be adding a slider to the strap for production, so you will be able to make it even longer. There was no time for a costume change, so I’m wearing the exact same outfit as in the previous picture.  Sorbet looks just as great with a neutral/off-white top and a pair of blue jeans as with a light pair of pants for summer and a leather biker jacket in the winter.

Here’s a view of the interior. This gives a better idea of the colour:

The front pocket is easy to open and close and is a generous size – the perfect size to keep a medium-sized wallet and/or phone.

This bag was designed (in black) for one of the fashion editors of Grazia, one of Belen Echandia’s “Inspirational Women”. We met her in London and chatted about the features she finds useful in a bag for her job as fashion editor/general stylish girlie at large.

Pre-order yours on the Belen Echandia website, here.

Spring 2012 Preview contd. – Barcelona Satchel

After my blog post yesterday, I received an email asking me if we had decided to do away with professional models this season and use me as the model instead.  The customer who asked and I had a good chuckle over this after I explained that no, I wouldn’t be modelling the bags for our website but rather, as I explained in the post, these are informal images for my personal blog.  We always get requests for more images of the bags really early in the season before our modelled shots are done.  So although these images aren’t very professional, hopefully you can get a better idea about each style this way.

Today’s model for that matter isn’t me!

In case you didn’t see it yesterday, here is the link to the full line sheet of available styles and colours for the spring summer 2012 season: http://www.youblisher.com/p/209746-BELEN-ECHANDIA-SS2012/

Today I was going to show you the mini Cannes bag, but I had so many requests about the Barcelona Satchel that I’ve decided to do an in-depth review of the Barcelona instead.  This bag was a favourite of both buyers and press at our press day in November.

So here is the Barcelona Satchel, in a variety of colour ways.   Here is one of Marco’s assistants modelling the Barcelona in mint.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is very comfortable to hold in your hand.

Here’s the Barcelona in whiskey chevre – we hung it on a door handle to show a profile view so you get a better idea of the depth. It’s a lovely depth – deep enough to fit all your items, but shallow enough to mould beautifully to your body.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the inside of this bag there is a central zipped compartment, where you can store valuables. It also has an easy access slip pocket on the back, as you can see from the spin shot on our website. Here is the mint bag with fuchsia lining (the central compartment got a bit pushed to one side in this picture):

The real beauty of this bag is that it is designed to fold over in the middle, so that you can wear it crossbody.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of it worn that way, but it is extremely comfortable.  Here is a picture of it in grey chevre, folded over so you can see how great it looks.

 

Pre-order the Barcelona in Whiskey new matte or Black velvet matte calfskin, here.

Pre-order the Barcelona in Mint or Whiskey Chevre, here.

SS12 Line Sheet Preview – Cannes Satchel

Our spring summer 2012 line sheets are now available for preview.  We will add all the new styles to our website over the coming ays so you can order your favourite colour in advance and have it delivered early next year.  The Cannes shoulder bag is the first to go up, here.

Disclaimer: this is not the BE official model shoot, it is just me on my blog showing how the bags hang on a real person.

Here is the link to the full SS12 line sheet: http://www.youblisher.com/p/209746-BELEN-ECHANDIA-SS2012/

Every day for the next 6 days we will upload informal pictures of each new style, discuss each one in detail and show how it hangs and can be worn.   I took some pictures whilst previewing the new collection, so you can see how each one looks on a person of average height (5ft 5″ to be precise).  Today’s first entry is the Cannes Shoulder Bag (full size) in whiskey chevre.

My first thought when I tried on the first prototype of this bag empty was that the rolled handles , which I designed for comfort, might fall off my shoulder.  But as soon as I put in my wallet and cell-phone, they stayed put very comfortably.  My second thought was – This bag is amazing!  The Cannes is a lightweight bag.  We made the handle drop long enough to fit very comfortably on the shoulder.  You can open and close the side pockets whilst the bag is still on your shoulder, which is useful if you need your phone or something else close to hand.  The front pockets are more for decoration, but they are also useful and deep enough to fit a phone or a couple of small items.

You can cinch in the sides of this bag with the drawstring, but this time from the inside of the bag instead of the outside.  The bag also has two magnets, making it a very secure style.   The Cannes is also really comfortable when worn crossbody.  The handles fold down very easily and they don’t look at all awkward.  As you can see, the bag is quite deep but moulds softly against the body.

The Cannes is available for SS12 pre-order in chocolate matte and whiskey matte calfskin as well as sand and whiskey chevre. If you would like to pre-order it in a different colour, please ask about the specific colour you want and we may be able to help.

Pre-order HERE

 

Belen Echandia selected to be part of Vogue’s Online Fashion Week

I’ve been visiting England with Theo for the past few weeks, but I haven’t stopped working on exciting projects for even a minute.

I am so excited to be working with Dolly Jones, editor of Vogue Online during Vogue’s Online Fashion Week, in aid of the Neuroblastoma Society. Vogue’s Online Fashion Week runs from Monday 5 December to Friday 9 December.  The week will be packed full of interviews, fashion articles, exclusive products, advice from Industry insiders and much, much more.  You can read more about it on the Vogue website, here: http://www.vogue.co.uk/online-fashion-week/2011/monday-5th-december.

Vogue asked Belen Echandia to create some exclusive handbags especially for Vogue’s Online Fashion Week as well as come up with some fun ideas and incentives to give to charity. To get into the festive spirit, we are giving every customer who spends more than £400 a complimentary opportunity to experience our bespoke service, with a Christmas gift of a complimentary bespoke small leather item made with leather, lining and hardware colour of your choice (choose from our business card holder, pouch, phone holder, or metro card holder).

We will also have a competition for all those who visit our BEspoke section, create their favourite bespoke item and click on Buy at the end (without entering credit card details). We can trace these “orders” on our ordering system and one of the creations will be selected and its owner will win a small leather item free.

To enter you must also like the Belen Echandia Facebook page www.facebook.com/belenechandia

Finally, Belen Echandia is very happy to be donating 10% of the proceeds from every handbag sold during Vogue’s Online Fashion Week to the Neuroblastoma Society. Neuroblastoma is a rare form of childhood cancer. The Society raises funds for research, information and support for those affected.

Happy Christmas!

Jackie and the BE Team

BE’s Christmas Gift to loyal customers: Individual bespokes on small leather goods

We’re so excited to announce that as a Christmas gift to our loyal customers, our atelier has agreed to produce bespoke small leather goods for the first time ever.  They are able to do this – for a limited time only – because we have lots of small pieces of various leathers that are not big enough to produce a bag.  We know that lots of you will be excited to get your favourite accessory made up in your favourite leather, lining & hardware combination at last.  Please note that this applies to *new* orders only placed from today’s date until Friday, December 23rd.

This means that Angel Purses, Kiss Me Clutches (our make-up bag), Iphone holders, Ipad holders, Business Card Holders, Coin Purses, “Protect Me” Card Holders, Pen Pouches and Wristlets will all be available to order in your favourite leather – perfect as a Christmas gift for yourself or for someone else.  See below for pictures and the ordering links.

This is a very limited-time offer, which means that all orders must be placed before our Christmas ordering deadlines.

Bearing in mind early shipping dates and the fact that your order must be produced especially for you, to ensure that your order is delivered before Christmas the last ordering date if you are outside of the UK is Friday 25 November.  Within the UK the last ordering date is Wednesday 7 December.

This could change at any time depending on how busy our schedule gets, so we will keep this post updated.

For delivery after Christmas, the final deadline to take advantage of this opportunity is Friday 23rd December.

For any queries you may have, please contact Janelle at janelle(@)belenechandia.com

Happy Holidays from the Belen Echandia team.

XXXXX

Angel Purse (with wrist strap)

ORDER NOW IN YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR, HARDWARE AND LINING COMBINATION

Wristlet (with wrist strap)

ORDER NOW IN YOUR FAVOURITE COLOUR, HARDWARE AND LINING COMBINATION

Kiss Me clutch (with wrist strap) – We call this our make-up bag as that’s what it was originally designed for and it’s SO useful. I couldn’t live without mine.  But many people use it as a clutch.


ORDER NOW IN YOUR FAVOURITE LEATHER, LINING AND HARDWARE COMBINATION

Business Card Holder – note that picture shows an extra small, square business card. The holder is a standard size.

Will be added to our website shortly! Meanwhile EMAIL US to set your leather aside

IPAD holder

Will be added to our website shortly! Meanwhile EMAIL US to set your leather aside

Iphone holder (with handy leather neck string so you can wear it around your neck)

Will be added to our website shortly! Meanwhile EMAIL US to set your leather aside

Protect Me tube pass holder (with wristlet)

ORDER NOW IN YOUR FAVOURITE LEATHER, LINING AND HARDWARE COMBINATION

 Pouch/Pen Holder – perfect for holding small items like pens, a comb, even wet wipes. Fits at least 4 pens.

Will be added to our website shortly! Meanwhile EMAIL US to set your leather aside


COIN PURSE

 

Will be added to our website shortly! Meanwhile EMAIL US to set your leather aside

*Please note – almost all leathers showing on our leathers page are part of this Christmas Gift, but we will be monitoring it closely and removing leathers once they are no longer available.  Some leathers like pewter crash are now available only in VERY limited quantities, so we apologize in advance if we don’t catch the order fast enough.  If your chosen  leather proves not to be available, you will have the option of a full refund.  Below is a list of leathers that are definitely not available but are still showing up as we have outstanding orders for them in the system*:

Red sheen
Red Glossy
Navy Glossy

Some chevre leathers are available to make small leather goods, but most are not. Please email us to check chevre availability.