NEW ROMANTIC: The handbag market has been bursting with newness in the contemporary space as of late, with accessibly priced labels cropping up one after the other and grasping for the attention of the Instagram generation.
But there’s still space for a slower, more luxurious approach, according to Taiwanese designer Grace Han, who debuted her eponymous label this month with a focus on craftsmanship and the in-store experience.
The label launched to the market with the opening of a London flagship boutique in Knightsbridge’s Beauchamp place, a stone’s throw away from Harrods.
The aim was to introduce itself to the market in an environment that reflects the new label’s ethos and allows Han to have full control of the experience.
“I wanted to create a warm environment that feels almost like a home when you come in. It’s key to create this type of atmosphere and show the journey of the brand — it was a process that took place over eight years,” said Han, who spent the last few years training and working with artisans in Taiwan to develop and perfect the brand’s now-signature leather pleating technique.
“We treat every bag like artwork,” she added.
Inside the store — a large space filled with gold-accented furniture, marble counter tops, modernist lighting and art by Han’s late mother Anita Wong — there are spaces dedicated to illustrating how the bags are constructed with an array of leather swatches and sketches. Pieces of leather are ironed and sewn together to create the micro-pleating effect seen on the flaps of cross-body bags and mirroring the delicate lines on a ballerina’s tutu or on paintings by Han’s mother.
Prices for the new collection range from 390 pounds for small leather goods to 3,495 pounds for handbags featuring the pleating technique.
Han added that she plans on staying focused on the brand’s core range and gradually adding new pieces to the collection. Direct-to-consumer retail will also remain at the core of the brand, with a second store in Tokyo being in the company’s future plans.