Caraa is banking on the rise of ath-leisure to help build its new line of sporty handbags. The five-month-old handbag collection has a singular focus: incorporating fashion into a functional product.
According to Aaron Luo, cofounder and chief executive officer of Caraa, the focused, four-style collection is looking to make the idea of the “gym bag” cool.
Take Caraa’s flagship and best-selling silhouette thus far — the $395 Studio Bag — a backpack, tote and cross-body hybrid fashioned from Italian leather and nylon with oversize polished hardware and high performance mesh.
“It’s a gym bag but doesn’t look like a gym bag,” added Carmen Chen Wu, designer of Caraa.
She and Luo explained that the leather handles and detailing are elevated enough to take the wearer from gym to office, but the biggest draw is a hidden compartment made of high performance polyester spacer mesh designed to hold wet clothes and sneakers post workout. The mesh has antimicrobial and moisture management properties and smart hidden vents release post-workout moisture to prevent odor. Also, the straps are cushioned, a zipped pocket contains a foam padded wall for devices and the fabric is water repellent.
A $350 Studio 2 bag is a simpler version of the first, Luo said, noting that it’s both lighter and is convertible to just two styles (backpack and cross-body). The two satchel handles were eliminated in an effort to remove nearly a pound from the original bag’s weight. A nylon Dance 1 and mesh Dance 2 bag are both “straight backpacks” per Luo, and retail for $295 and $250, respectively.
The line is already sold on the brand’s web site at Caraasport.com, as well as at select Reebok Stores and six Equinox locations throughout New York and Greenwich, Conn.
“We are an emerging brand, so we don’t have a lot of heritage [yet]. We focus a lot on the value that we pass on to our customers,” Luo said. “They are ultimately getting a luxury product for $395 versus brands that use these kinds of materials that would charge $900 to $1,200.”
The company, currently fundraising, projects $2.1 million in retail sales for next year.