7th Annual Independent Designer Handbag Awards

By Maria Serquen

Growing from an indie event to an industry staple, the Annual Independent Designer Handbag Awards has been featured in WWD fifteen times, celebrated its fourth year of partnership with InStyle Magazine, and the designers have been picked up by major retailers in the USA and all around the world. Due to all the exposure the HBD Network has grown to over 3000 independent designers worldwide.

This year, the 7th Annual Independent Designer Handbag Awards received over 1000 submissions from twenty-eight countries. Only twenty-five finalists were flown in from Peru, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Venezuela, South Africa, Israel, Nicaragua, United Kingdom, Mexico, Korea, Canada and the USA. The HBD Network matches designers with retailers to host collaborations, for-sale-related programs, and it has one of the largest databases of international handbag designers in the world.  With its partnership with InStyle magazine over the years the number of submissions and attention has grown significantly. The categories include “Best in Overall Style and Design,” “Audience Fan Favorite,” “The Best Student Made Handbag,” “The Best Handmade Bag,” “The Best Green Bag,” and “The Most Socially Responsible Bag.”

styleTV interviews Rafé Totengco ~ this year’s Iconoclast Award Recipient

The reception was a full house, with the finalist’s handbags on display and viewed by attendees and other industry notables. There was plenty of action throughout the reception hall from start to finish as guests filtered in. From guests taking photos on the step-and-repeat to interviews conducted by Emily Blumenthal, the founder of the HBD Network. Attendees also got the opportunity to rub shoulders  with several industry notables including  Deborah Lloyd, President of Kate Spade New York; Phillip Bloch, celebrity stylist; Cindy Weber-Cleary, fashion director of InStyle; Brooke Jaffe, fashion accessories director of Bloomingdale’s;   handbag industry legend Carlos Falchi; Anthony Ryan Auld, “Project Runway” winner; and Lauren Parker, editor of Accessories magazine (Accessories Magazine).

Carmen Ortiz of Parsons New School of Design was given “The Best Student Made Handbag Award” and an apprenticeship with Charming Charlie.

Mary Lai from New York took home the "The Best Handmade Bag Award" and the opportunity to work with Brother.

Rachel Santos from California took the “Timberland Best Green Handbag” and will have her bag will be carried by Timberland.

Maria Teresa Aristeguieta from Venezuela won "The Most Socially Responsible Bag Award” and an opportunity to work with John Paul Selects.

One of the highlights of the evening was to see Rafé Totengco, handbag designer for Jones New York, receive the Iconoclast Award which is only awarded to standouts in the handbag industry.

The final winners of the evening…

Maria Lamanna from Italy won the "Best in Overall Style and Design Award” and in August she will be working with Women’s Wear Magic, doing a collaborative project with Rafé Totengco, and having their line picked up at Bloomingdales.

Franziska Clamer from Italy won the “Audience Fan Favorite”, an online contest on InStyle Magazine which this year received a total of over 425,000 fans votes making it the biggest poll InStyle has ever sponsored! Her handbag will be highlighted, amongst the rest of the winners, in the September issue of InStyle Magazine.

The Annual Independent Designer Handbag Awards has truly made its mark in the industry with more changes and growth coming soon. The HBD 101 Network will re-launch soon as a full ecommerce site and opportunities will flourish.  All aspiring handbag designers should truly take advantage of the opportunity to take part in this community and in next year’s international competition. Who knows? We may spot your handbag design in Bloomingdales next year.