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BAG AFFAIR a sustainable brand

What makes Bag Affair a sustainable brand?

When starting to create Bag Affair, we did this with the consciousness of creating a new brand, creating a new concept and creating new products. We set our goal to design and produce the best handbags for business women, having enough space and compartments, being practical and at the same time fashionable accessories. But all this we wanted to do in a sustainable and ecological way.

We do not believe that the world just needs a new brand for handbags, or a new trend, lasting only a few months. We believe that there are many great brands out there, but we are also aware that the fashion industry is the most polluting industry on our planet. Fashion became a fast-goods industry. Collections change every few months, the drive is to consume lots of things that don’t last too long. We do not believe that you need a new bag 4 times a year, or new shoes each month or even a new t-shirt. We believe that you can have pieces in your wardrobe that are well chosen and that last for years, timeless, in fashion and always fitting to your outfits.

Bag Affair is such a brand: fashionable and practical, long-lasting and never out of style. We may not have the power to completely shift the mad fast consumption of fashion, but we created our brand to go against the tide of fast fashion with slow conscious durable fashion. It’s possible!

To be a fashion brand, designing and making handbags in a sustainable way means to produce close to us and to know exactly how and where the bags are produced, how materials and humans are treated and to minimise waste, plastic and carbon footprint to a minimum.

So what does Bag Affair do?

·         100% made in Europe: As the brand is based in France, we wanted a 100% European production, always close to materials and know-how. We use only European materials and all assembly is done in Portugal, where our main material, the cork textile, comes from.

·         Low sampling quantities: Many fashion brands first work on a high number of samples before launching a collection. These samples are not for real use and often thrown away. We work with only one sample per bag design – even if the sample is not perfect, one is enough to present it to our clients, explaining upcoming improvements, doing the photo shooting and communicating changes to be made to the production place.

·         Avoid Cut-offs: Traditional bag production of leather has to deal with a high quantity of cut-offs and material to be thrown away. Using only cork and cotton and optimizing the space of material to cut-out helps us to avoid cut-offs.

·         Using cork as main material: Cork is a sustainable product, coming from the cork oak trees. When the cork is harvested, only the outer layers are removed from the tree, allowing the tree itself to stay alive and to produce new cork bark.

ETHICALLY BACK TO WORK

The time of year where we feel, it’s okay I had enough sun and vacation to last me through the winter (said no one ever !), but seriously, it’s the back to work and back to school time of year where as usual everyone is out to get the right office outfits for work. The right outfit also means the right work bag. And the right work bag for us is (of course) our very own work chic collection of Bag Affair, created especially for busy working women.

We once asked one of the female entrepreneurs we met in Lorient :

-        « What bag do you take when you have to go to important work meetings to carry documents, folder and a laptop ? »

Her immediate  answer was :

-       « pfff… unfortunately, the ugliest bag I have »

It’s true, female business fashion is limited and even more in bags !

Finding a feminin business bag that’s work friendly, lives up to an elegant professional image, AND practical to carry our load of work essentials is a real challenge to find. We’ve also been there ourselves ! Needless to say that in the handbags market, finding this combination AND the ethical green factor is almost non-existant.

We are here to give our valued customers, active working women just like us, a rare combination of design,animal free cork, work bags truley made for work and beyond. Going back to work and dressing for success also means the right Bag Affair to take to work.

BEHIND THE AFFAIR

Necessity is the mother of invention. This is the very brief version of how Bag Affair was born – from necessity.

In a previous life I used to manage exports and business development for a renewable energy startup. The job required carrying a lot of documents, personal computer to and from work, appointments, meetings, in addition to a number of international trade shows. My partner, similarly, managed fashion exports and more frequently hopped planes for meetings, pitches, fashion fairs all across Europe and the United States. Basically two young women at the top of their career games. The ONE thing we both struggled with was … (hold your breath !) finding the RIGHT BAG !!

The choice of taking a bag to work is just like choosing the right attire for important meetings, it sets the tone for who you are, or more importantly, who you want to be. The fact that such a handbag was not simple to find in any leathergoods shop (maroquinerie) was frustratring to the point that we both contemplated creating our very own handbag. A bag for work that speaks elegance, respects the needs of working women with enough compartments, keys and pen holders (yes women use pens too ! surprise !) and preferably not using animal leather or PVC plastic materials.

The idea really stuck, simply because it wsn’t simply about a bag. It’s deeper. It’s about the place of women in the workplace and society as a whole. Who would create a fashion line that truely speaks to real needs of working women other than working women themselves ? For us, this collection tells a story, one of hardwork, chasing dreams, lifting an image and pushing career goals. It’s a love affair, with our work and our bags !

FASHION'S UNWRITTEN GENDER ROLES

You often hear the expression « you are what you wear », or,  « dress for the job you want, not the job you have ». Women in general take their looks seriously, just as men do. Women at work have the added pressure to select and appear in ‘’work appropriate’’ attire, to reflect their personality, and also be taken seriously among colleagues, especially in commonly male dominated industries. We not only think about what’s comfortable, but what colours are suitabe for work on a daily basis, or secial professional occasions, important meetings, whether to embrace or hide the natural curvy forms of our bodies … the list goes on !

BAGS are no different than fashion apparel. In fact, with the slow progress in apparel for professional women, handbags in general have completely rested in a comfy zone, while work bags in specific yet remain far from realities of todays’ working women. We are boxed into choosing either large flimsy open bags with single pocket, slapped with pink or bright red colours (coz, ya know, women, right ?!), or masculin briefcases incase we need something more functional and just live with the lack of elegance. Choice between both oceans is always a compromise. Ever wondered why the hurried working woman you cross on the road or at the airport is always carrying two bags ? Or three with her suitcase ? Because she simply cannot put her personal belongings together with her work files and laptop in one (elegant) work bag. If you don’t believe me, ask your female colleague next to you, or take a look at her office handbag !

Isn’t it time we women ourselves take this upon our selves to change the fashion narrative. We deserve functional bags with  as much organisation as any male briefcase – and no, we are not going to compromise on creativity and elegance in the process ! This is how Bag Affair was born. Working women designing functional, elegant and (the cherry on top) ecological bags for other working women .

The Hunt for a working bag: Part 1 – the  criterias & reality

We all asked the same question.. which bag is ideal for work ?

Except that reality is often hard to find the ideal working bag that unites the practical (i.e. not only large empty space), but also internal organisation, a timeless style that goes with our work outfits. This doesn’t mean only a small shoulder sling bag, but a proper briefcase (yes just like the men out there !) where we can carry our daily work necessities, documents and laptop among others. Another criteria (as if all this is not already hard enough), a bag without animal leather, nor plastic PVC derivants !

It goes without saying that all these search criteria elimintaed almost all the big brands in the bag industry. We were left with the low quality and un-elegant handbags that flood the market at low prices. We discovered a large vacuum in the offer for working women, with bags created with purpose and a tiny bit of imagination ! (to be followed).

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