Unless you are a very specific type of 14-year girl who screams with delight at the prospect of matching your BFF, the likelihood is that you would rather double tap on an ex’s Instagram picture than be caught playing handbag ‘Snap’ with a fellow commuter. Yet luxury handbags have historically occupied that strange hollow in the fashion world in which, unlike other elements of personal style, looking like everyone else is considered acceptable. Many have fallen victim to the ‘IT’ bag, a term vague enough to convince the fashion savvy to invest copious amounts of hard earned sterling into an item – or a cheaper lookalike – that will induce sartorial deja vu the moment you step out of the store.
Mon Purse sees things a little differently. Founded in late 2014 by Russian-born, Australian-raised Lana Hopkins, the brand has broken open that previously complex web of bespoke design, affordability and timelessness to offer a luxury handbag that can be entirely yours, without an extortionate price tag. In an age of what The Economist termed ‘jiggery bespokery’ it’s easy to be cynical about what personalisation really means, but Mon Purse has far exceeded (though not abandoned) the standard monogram offer.
The brand offers over 10 billion customisation options to their clients; it’s a nearly unfathomable amount, especially as the options are very neatly presented to me when I visit them in their Selfridges store. Indeed the initial choices are deceptively simple though still manage to engender a flurry of ‘umms’ and ‘ahs’. Their sales team ask me questions about what kind of size I’m looking for, when I’ll wear it and the kind of styles I prefer – eventually I settle on ‘The Trapeze’ a top handle bag that matches none of my original criteria (something I can stuff my laptop and lunch in) but that I’m totally smitten with. From here, the decisions only get harder. First, there’s the outside: grainy, smooth leather or print, and a host of different colours. Then comes considerations around the lining, metal detail, monogram and any extra notes. By the end of the process, I feel as though I genuinely made this thing from scratch with my bare hands, and four weeks to see it in the flesh feels longer than the time I waited for my fringe to grow out after I hacked my hair apart with kitchen scissors.
But that’s the beauty of making something yourself: you care. And in an age where luxury brands are increasingly having to customise their offer to give a competitive edge, Mon Purse is among the early adopters of a new kind of fashion brand. While the service in store comes highly recommended, customers can also design their handbag online. The approach is one that speaks to an innovative mindset where personalisation can be offered on a global scale. ‘Technology has enabled consumers to personalise and customise current trends to suit their own style. Fashion is something people love and are passionate about – technology is simply the unseen mechanism of making dreams possible.’ Hopkins noted in a Drapers interview earlier this year.
Alongside handbags, Mon Purse offers wallets, passport accessories and iPhone cases and laptop holders. If you’re looking for a new way of upping your handbag swag ahead of the summer, this might be the brand for you.