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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Independent Handbag Designer Awards 2012

The best of independent handbag designers were honored last week at the Sixth annual awards.  This event is always truly special to me as someone who loves to champion indie creators.
Winning one of the awards isn't just a prize or a headline, but truly a multi-part support package that helps to advance the designer's career.

The award categories themselves brings out the best qualities that the indie fashion industry could hope for, like Most Socially Responsible (using ethical and moral standards in the production of the bag) and Best Green Handbag (made from sustainable, recycled or organic materials). Attendees are encouraged to donate old purses to Bottomless Closet, an organization that aims to outfit women with the confidence and fashion to interview for the right job.

Winners are featured InStyle magazine as supported by editor Ariel Foxman.  Singer sewing machines donate state of the art machines to equip an entire studio, mentorships, special collections in collaboration with designers all propel small business owners to new career levels.

Designers who were honored included Krystal Sokolis for Best Student Made handbag.  Sheila Harper won Singer Simplicity's award for Best Handmade, Aimee Kestenberg won Kipling's award for Creating with Nylon.  Best Green Handbag went to Fiona Kempton and Most Socially Responsible Handbag was awarded to Marisa Collado of Mexico.  The Best Handbag in Overall Style and Design was won by Bita and Rouzita Vahhabaghai for their gold and green reed-like clutch.  The Audience fan favorite (and mine) was Jennifer Lang's laser cut leather purse.

Designer and awards founder Emily Blumenthal has really mentored entire generations of designers with this competition.  Her passion has brought in designers like Carlos Falchi to do the same.

The iconoclast award honored Kenneth Cole this year.  His start in the industry is legendary, but his own wit about this business was even more charming.  His brand is known for leather goods, shoes and bags.  He advised that one should never judge a person until you walk a mile in their shoes... (If you still don't like them, you are a mile away from them and you also took their shoes).

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