Handbag Designer 101 held their 6th annual Independent Handbag Designer Awards ceremony at the Time & Life building in New York City this week. As a judge (full disclosure), I narrowed down more than 1,000 handbag entries from around the world but it was a surprise to all, including me, come awards night. Find out which independent designers across seven categories, including Best Green and Most Socially Responsible Hanbag, won an opportunity to help launch their label to the masses ahead.
Fiona Kempton's "Wiltshire" carryall took home the prize for Best Green Handbag. The bag is made with reclaimed materials, including an old flour sack and hardware sourced from three bags found at the Salvation Army.
As a winner, the designer, who only found out about the competition a few nights prior to the submission deadline, will team up with Timberland & Amorim Cork Composites to develop a handbag to be sold in stores. "
"The green handbag category really suited me given that it was a collaboration with Timberland," Kempton said when accepting the award. "My aesthetic is to bring heritage spirit and to feminize it so this really seemed like the perfect category."
The Most Social Responsible Handbag award went to Arbol de Viento for their fair trade bags, which are made by indigenous women weavers in Oaxaca, Mexico.
"The practice of palm weaving is in danger of being lost for lack of income to support household expenditure in rural areas," according to the brand's awards application on Handbag Designer 101. "Some of the weavers that work for us is the keepers of traditions in their communities.
In her acceptance speech, Arbol de Viento's Marisa Collado said, "Dreams come true, so keep dreaming."
Inspired by the "grace and delicacy of lace," Jennifer Lang's winning handbag design boasts a classic silhouette.
The Best Student Made Handbag went to Savannah College of Art and Design's Krystal Sokolis for her hand-woven plum carryall; The Singer Simplicity Best Handmade Handbag to Harper Jairdan's "Lady Knight" purse, and Best Kipling-Inspired Handbag to Aimee Kestenberg's "Aimee Convertible Shopper" style.