LONDON — After two years of research and testing, three Australian-born friends have launched Espie Roche, a leather handbag range that’s made in, and inspired by, Italy.
Founders Hermione Espie Underwood and twin sisters Airlie and Alexandra Roche Hamilton named the label after their respective mothers’ maiden names. The company, which is based in Florence, focuses on classic silhouettes and craftsmanship.
The collection offers four styles: A chain clutch bag, an over-the-shoulder-satchel, and portrait and landscape shaped totes. Taking a cue from the colors of a vintage poster of Capri, the range comes in bold shades of yellow, cobalt blue and orange as well as black and gray in materials such as calf and crocodile.
The geometric design of metal hardware reflects the shape of the Duomo in Florence. Prices range from 560 pounds for a chain clutch to 1,100 pounds for a landscape tote. The bags will be sold on their e-shop.
Alexandra Roche Hamilton called the Espie Roche customer fashion conscious, “but she buys to keep and is passionate about the legacy of craftsmanship. She is a woman of substance.”
The trio said they have designed their range from a consumer perspective while taking a cue from their mothers’ handbag collections.
“Alexandra and I grew up with a mother who owned a clothing atelier,” Airlie said. “She would import fabulous fabrics from Europe to be made into divine evening dresses, wedding dresses, suits, etc. Our mother always had a keen eye for quality and true excitement for all types of beauty, from clothing and accessories, to hotels and fabulous gardens. She has been a major inspiration to us both and we have loved sharing the design development process with her. She has even come to Italy to tour the factories with us, which was an exciting moment.”
Underwood added that she also grew up watching her “extraordinarily talented mother design, cut and sew beautiful pieces from silks and materials she was constantly collecting. Creative, supportive mothers who have excellent taste and a deep appreciation of quality has made this project a joy.”
Underwood founded the H Collective, a boutique brand development and creative communications consultancy before starting the brand with the Roche Hamilton twins. She honed her skills working in the luxury market having previously worked at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton in the marketing departments for Dom Pérignon and Moët & Chandon. She also worked at an Australian public relations firm whose clients included Louis Vuitton and Hermès.
The Roche Hamilton sisters both studied law and commerce before Alexandra took on roles at Christian Dior Couture and at Fenwick of Bond Street while Airlie continued practicing law.
Alexandra noted that the launch strategy is focused on the over-the-shoulder satchel. “It is our most versatile piece, designed to be worn many ways and from day to night.”
The label is self-funded and the founders are promoting in the U.K. as well as U.S., Australia and Europe. The founders said they want to build a global presence and to develop further the shapes, colors and precious skins offering.