I confess that I have a weakness for handbags, especially a well-made leather bag. It’s one category in my wardrobe where I’m willing to drop some serious dough because I know it will be money well spent. And I have yet to get rid of an expensive bag I’ve purchased.
In Oregon we have some very talented handbag designers. Here are some you should discover if you haven’t already.
Ellington has been producing high quality leather handbags and accessories in Portland for more than 30 years. They pride themselves in being a small company of nine, who “dream big, changing the world one bag at a time.”
Michael Eggleston, third-generation leather artisan and Ellington creative director, carefully selects the leather used in each bag. “The leather talks to you, it has to feel good to touch. It will tell you what it wants to be,” he says. “The bag must be made of great material yet simple in design.” And classic, simple lines are what we’ve come to expect from Ellington.
Their fall collection features texture and beautiful hardware.
You will still be able to find “Sadie,” Ellington’s most popular and recognized shoulder bag. New additions are the “Emma” hobo bag with pebble leather and substantial gold hardware. The two-tone “Jade” has more structure than you’ve seen for Ellington. “We needed a few new flavors,” Eggleston said.
Anne Scott was so inspired by the spirit of her great grandmother she named her handbag line after her. Mari Lassa was born in France and moved to America when she was 19 to pursue a happier future. It is that same pursuit of joy that Anne has been seeking. A dentist by profession, Anne has been creating handbags in her spare time for 10 years. This year her brand has grown so much she’s reduced her dentistry practice to part time.
Scott’s Mari Lassa handbags are designed and made in Bend.
“My bags are very clean in lines but have a raw edgy feel to them,” she says. “I offer unique options such as a pocket bag that can snap out of a larger bag to be used as a clutch.”
Mari Lassa follows trends that stay true to the brand but “maintain a sense of timelessness.”
One fall trend in the line is fringe. The knotted fringe cross-body bag has just enough fringe to give the bag interest without losing Mari Lassa’s clean line integrity. “I want to take a trend and touch on it, not exploit it,” Scott says.
She also listens closely to her customers. “People want to be able to carry their phone, money and credit cards and that’s it.” So she created the “Wallet Journal,” which looks like a leather journal cover but is a very stylish and functional wallet.
Maya Moon follows a similar philosophy of clean lines, but her handbags are anything but simple. The designs are one-of-a-kind bags that use furs and fabrics from Moon’s travels or from local vendors.
Moon doesn’t follow trends, but she does collaborate with her clients. “Clients keep it current for me. They’ll tell me, ‘I’d really like some fringe.’ so I’ll make them a bag with fringe only to find out it’s trending.”
The one detail that stays true from bag to bag are the fun, colorful linings. “I’m passionate about print, and what better way to use fabric on a leather bag than for the lining,” she says.
This season she is excited about the fur she has in stock as well as some new shapes like her bucket bag.