By and  on September 21, 2011

One afternoon a few years ago, Patti Hansen’s daughters were rummaging through her closet and happened upon a cross-body bag made by a close friend who worked as a stylist. The bag’s unique look inspired the former model to launch her own handbag collection called Hung On U, which will hit the shelves of Barneys New York today.

“There’s no other bag on the market with that shape. It’s so wearable,” Hansen told WWD. “I’m really a boots and jeans kind of girl.”

“I’ve lost all my bags, but Patti has kept hers for 30 years and we noticed in the last five years her daughters have started raiding her closet for them. We said, ‘We should bring these back,’” said Molly Madden, a Los Angeles-based producer and talent manager who Hansen met in the late Seventies at her agency Wilhemina.

The duo brought in Debi Koppel, owner of El Segundo, Calif.-based bag manufacturer DKP Designs, to help with production.

“I’ve been a manufacturer for close to 20 years for different private labels, but this is the most high-end line I’ve ever done,” Koppel said.

The complete collection of bags, which come in three sizes and retail from $260 for a small metal mesh style to $8,500 for a large alligator version, is currently available on the Hung On U Web site.

Hung On U was launched 18 months ago and initially sold simply via word of mouth. Things changed last December, when Hansen and her partners met with Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, who connected them with Barneys.

The Barneys collection, available online and in the New York and Beverly Hills stores, includes 11 pieces ranging from a $260 gunmetal mesh bag to a $580 black pebbled leather one with gold studs. Other materials include snake embossed leather, pony hair, alligator, suede, sheepskin leather and ostrich.

Coinciding with today’s Barneys launch, the company will auction off a collection of canvas bags designed by the likes of Diane von Furstenburg, Christian Louboutin and Hansen’s husband, Keith Richards, on barneys.com. The bags will start at $500 and the proceeds will be donated to the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation.

Hung On U will sell its bags exclusively at Barneys through January, and after that the plan is to expand its wholesale reach.

After the first full season cycle, Hung On U’s goal is to have sales in the range of $1 million to $2 million. By the second year, Hung On U projects gross revenue of $5 million.

“It’s been wild,” Madden said. “All of us are over 50 and we never thought we’d be starting a new company at this stage in our lives.”

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