HANDBAG HYPE: The Independent Handbag Designer Awards is gearing up for its eighth year with a new sponsor, Guess, and a brand new endeavor: reality TV. The application period for the awards ends on April 27, with winners named at an awards ceremony held at the SVA Theater in Manhattan on June 18. The seven categories up for grabs are Best Handbag in Overall Style & Design, Opitex Best Student Made Handbag, Bernina Best Handmade Handbag, Timberland Best Green Handbag, Feed Most Socially Responsible Handbag, Audience Fan Favorite Handbag, and this season’s new category, Distinctively Denim by Guess.

Prizes vary from a top-of-the-line sewing machine to in-store and online displays from sponsoring brands. Winners in each of the seven categories will additionally be featured in the September issue of InStyle.

This story first appeared in the March 12, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Monica Botkier will receive this season’s Iconoclast Award, which honors established names in the industry. Past recipients have included Carlos Falchi, Judith Leiber and Lulu Guinness. “Handbags mark moments in a woman’s life and in our culture’s history as a whole,” said Botkier. “To be recognized and celebrated by the fellow bag-obsessed talents out there is something I am so proud of.”

Independent Handbag Designer Awards founder Emily Blumenthal also plans to take the platform beyond the awards. Blumenthal recently began work on a new reality TV program seeking out the brightest up-and-coming handbag designers. The show is currently in preproduction, with producers seeking contestants with “personalities that match their equally brilliant designs for an unprecedented and groundbreaking fashion competition program.”

“I have been working on this for some time,” said Blumenthal. “We have an incredible partner and are looking for some wild handbag designers as part of our brand expansion.”