The most exquisite and beautiful handbags reflect creativity and artistry. Many things go into their production, especially those by Filipino brands that employ local artisans, preserve age-old techniques, and more.
Here, we've listed down the favorite handbag designers of Manila's most discerning who not only make beautiful things but make fashion, in general, more meaningful with their creations.
Adante Leyesa started making handbags as a hobby. He would give his finished pieces to family and friends as presents, and later decided to put up a brand after his creations found fame. His eponymous brand is known for handmade bags and accessories that use exquisite materials such as weaves, wood, bamboo, semi-precious stones, beads, crystals, and more.
Founded by mother-daughter trio Becky, Amina, and Rosanna, Aranaz is perhaps the most recognized local label to have been very successful internationally. The brand is best known for its chic, well-crafted fashion accessories. Aranaz has been featured in Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, and is stocked at boutiques around the world such as Takashimaya, Le Bon Marche, Selfridges, Bloomingdales Middle East, Aerin, Anthropologie, and Moda Operandi.
Bea Valdes' line of bags and accessories are internationally renowned, having been featured in publications such as Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Glamour, Marie Claire, and W. Valdes belongs to a family of jewelers and her eye for details shows with her eye-catching, incredibly detailed clutches and bags.
Founded by Carissa Cruz Evangelista, Beatriz is an artisanal line of colorful and modern accessories that uses graphic prints inspired by indigenous Philippine fabric. Beatriz works with local craftsmen to produce its exquisite pieces, and is stocked in boutiques and department stores in the Bahamas, Japan, Singapore, Spain, Australia, Bangkok, and Paris.
Founded by former model Tina Maristela Ocampo, Celestina is an accessories line of luxurious crocodile bags. Launched in 2006, Ocampo uses time-honored techniques and locally sourced exotic materials to craft her bags. The brand has been featured in Vogue and Elle, and most recently concluded an online trunk show with Moda Operandi.
Filip + Inna
Len Cabili started Filip + Inna in eight years ago as a fashion brand focused on clothing. The brand works with women in various tribal villages all over the Philippines, from Abra and Mindoro to Davao. After finding success, Filip + Inna has expanded to various accessories including clutches which feature the brand's signature hand embroidered work.
Established in 1992, Fino makes timeless bags and accessories out of leather products. The brand is known for its classic shapes and designs which are available in a range of colors. The brand has boutiques in malls across the country: Glorietta, Alabang Town Center, Eastwood, The Podium, Trinoma, Shangri-La Plaza, Power Plant Mall, SM Mall of Asia, Robinsons Place Manila, and Robinsons Magnolia.
A contemporary brand, Joanique uses cultural references and quality techniques to craft authentic designs. One of its most popular collections proves to be the Maskara Collection which takes inspiration from tribes' colors and patterns. The brand was founded in 2011 by Malou Romero.
Joanna Preysler is a label that offers bags and accessories in precious leather such as crocodile, ostrich, and python. The brand was founded by Joanna Presyler, the creative force behind Tint, Carbon, and Othello. Joanna Preysler specializes in luxurious tote-style bags which are ideal for the on-the-go woman.
Before becoming an accessories designer, Ken Samudio was a biologist who specialized in marine biodiversity. His experience in the field is clearly seen in his intricate designs which resemble corals. In 2014, he was selected by Vogue Italia as a Vogue Talent under accessories. Following that, he was handpicked to participate at London Fashion Week by the British Fashion Council. Today, his designs are stocked at Luisa Via Roma, Harvey Nicholas, and Lord and Taylor.
Matthew & Melka
Matthew & Melka is a diffusion line by accessories designer Ken Samudio. Named after his kids, the brand makes woven bags with colorful embroidery as well as jewelry. Matthew & Melka is stocked at Barneys New York and exclusively sold online at Moda Operandi.
Cebuano designer Neil San Pedro is the mastermind behind Neil Felipp. After taking up industrial design at the University of the Philippines – Cebu and a stint as a design apprentice for Kenneth Cobonpue, San Pedro established his own accessories brand. The brand is best known for its minaudiñres which feature intricate brass and metal details. Recently, his products appeared in feature film Crazy Rich Asians.
New York-based designer Rafe Totengco established his own brand, Rafé, back in 2000. Since then, the brand has expanded to shoes, small leather goods, and even men's accessories, but its minaudiñres and clutches still remain its most popular. Rafé has been featured in countless international publications and has been used by celebrities and personalities such as Olivia Palermo, Kate Bosworth, and Elizabeth Hurley, to name a few.
S.C.Vizcarra is one of the country's oldest accessories brands. The brand was founded in 1925 by Segundina Cornejo Vizcarra who initially offered hand-embroidered products. Today, the brand's legacy is being continued by her granddaughter, Rita Nazareno, through her line ZACARIAS1925. The brand makes a limited range of handmade bags that typically takes a total of eight days to finish.
Tali Handmade is the brainchild of Liza Morales Crespo and Marielle de Leon-Lazaro. As a social entrepreneurship, the brand combines quality production and design with sustainability by supporting the female inmates of a city jail in the Philippines. The brand is known for its striking, colorful woven bags which are perfect for both the city and the beach. Tali Handmade is stocked in boutiques and stores in the U.S., Japan, Belgium, France, and Italy.
Though Zarah Juan is most known for her chic mules, her bag creations are what got her started in the business. In 2006, she started a manufacturing company that produced eco-bags. After these proved popular, she ventured into making exquisite bags, accessories, and shoes. According to PEP.ph, the designer has partnered with Marikina's master shoemakers, Bulacan leather suppliers, Bicolano abaca vendors, and T’boli women weavers. Juan's bags use uniquely Filipino design details, as well as quirky animal- and padyak-shaped wicker bags.
This story originally appeared on Townandcountry.ph.
* Minor edits have been made by the Femalenetwork.com editors.