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EXPERT OPINION

Absolutely quizzes bag designer Esin Akan about what makes a best-selling handbag

By PENDLE HARTE

Q What makes a good bag?

A I think listening to what your customers want, following trends, being yourself as a brand, having a signature, using high quality materials and craftsmanship makes a bag good at the end.

Q Your tagline is 'smart bags for smart women'. What does that mean?

A All our bags are convertible, all made to be used in multiple ways. This helps women adapt to multiple scenarios from work to evening, weekday to weekend easily and look chic at all times. So you get one bag but actually it is three or four bags in one. That’s what we mean by smart bags for smart women. The idea came during my MBA, when I was inspired by women around me at the time.

Q What are your best-sellers and why?

A The Chelsea bag - it is five bags in one: a clutch bag, top handle bag, shoulder and crossbody bag and belt bag. Not only is it ultra versatile but it’s also a very beautiful bag with the knot detail in front. Our alltime best seller is Nice, a mid-sized practical expandable crossbody bag and clutch.

Q You have worked for Burberry and Anya Hindmarch among others. What did you learn from the big bag brands?

A I learned how to make a beautiful and high quality handbag. My job was to source bags from all around the world, so I learned where to find the best materials and how to get them made by experienced craftsmen. Both have been very valuable experiences.

Q Where are all your bags made and where does your leather come from?

A Our bags are made in Turkey by experienced craftsmen who make wellknown designer brands. Our leathers come from Turkey as well but most of them are bespoke for us, chosen for the texture, quality and colors we like. We also source leathers from tanneries that supply to reputable designer brands.

Q How did you come to launch your brand?

A During my studies and corporate life I always wanted to create my own brand one day. I was passionate about bringing beautiful and sensible products to life. Working for designer brands in Milan, Paris, London and Istanbul gave me the confidence and knowledge that I needed to make great bags. However, I never had the courage to start my own business until I started my MBA at London Business School. It did not take me long to realise that making great bags was not good enough. The bags I make had to be better and smarter than any other bag to survive in such a competitive market. Surrounded by very clever successful women, I wanted to create a line that appealed to such busy urban women. We conducted research with over 100 women about what they wanted in a bag. Women want light, high quality, understated, practical bags with unique design features at accessible prices. These features constitute our brand DNA.

Q What designers do you admire?

A I love minimal designs made with high quality materials, so I love Celine, Loewe and The Row.