Here’s Why It Took 1.5 Years to Design Tibi’s First Handbag

Some things, as they say, are worth the wait.

Afternoon #inspiration.

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Tibi is one of those brands that is adored by aesthetes for having a dedication to clean lines, promising modern silhouettes and always offering forward-thinking design features. You could rightly attribute this brand, which is owned and creatively directed by Amy Smilovic, for starting that whole off-the-shoulder blouse trend.

However, in between perfect dresses and covetable shoes, there was one thing missing from the Tibi equation: handbags. As it turns out, Smilovic had a bit of a selfish reason for that. “I am a bag snob,” she admitted to the Observer. And if you’ve ever spotted the designer in the wild (or on the subway, as I have), you’d get that vibe. Her knuckles are dusted with gold rings, her ears are studded with diamond earrings. Smilovic often wears a casual-but-cool slouchy trouser and a covetable slide sneaker. Or a flowing skirt with a cool boot. The only thing that would finish off such a perfectly effortless look is a beautiful luxury handbag.

Turns out, she felt that the Tibi customer would feel the same way. “They’re not carrying a throw-away contemporary bag,” she stated. “I knew that whatever we offered, a luxury point of view was required.”

Tibi Garçon Bag by Myriam Schaefer.

Tibi Garçon Bag by Myriam Schaefer. Courtesy Tibi

But she couldn’t go at this venture alone, as Smilovic knew that she needed an expert to partner with on this new category. “I held my first Myriam Schaefer bag and knew she was the one with whom I wanted to work on handbags [with]. So I sent a ‘cold email’, and then literally showed up on her doorstep in Paris.” Luckily, Schaefer was willing and ready to welcome her in, and the design process began. Mind you, this was a year and a half ago.

Schaefer, as any handbag aficionado would know, is the queen of luxury totes. She is, after all, the mastermind behind Balenciaga’s iconic City bag. For just a moment, forget about Hermès; Schaefer’s structured styles are much more inconspicuous than that French label, but are still a major status symbol. Her bags are created to survive a hectic lifestyle, and also be passed on to the next generation. They are notoriously discreet in their luxury, with chemical-free leathers and minimal hardware, but will garner a nod of approval from those who really know the brand and appreciate its ethos.

Take just one look at the structured Byron style, with a top-handle and a cross-body strap, a hidden clasp closure and a surprising saffron yellow leather interior, and you’ll understand the Myriam Schaefer appeal.

Tibi Papa Bag by Myriam Schaefer.

Tibi Papa Bag by Myriam Schaefer. Courtesy Tibi

Clearly design was important for this collaboration, but what else did Smilovic and Schaefer want to focus on? “Myriam and I are so passionate about functionality – we added a slot on the exterior of the bag for a metro card – easy to get to but very discrete at the same time.”

Currently, the line contains three styles: Mignon, a compact size with top-handle, Garçon, a petite cross-body and Papa, a carryall with some serious storage space. Offered in luscious black, red, camel, and navy calf leather, sometimes with a bright accent of blue, yellow or green, and often with a panel of denim, the real allure of these purses lies in their details. It might be the hooded feature that tops off each style, or the simple stitch alongside the handle, but each of these bags are a work of art.

And, they happen to be a bit of a bargain, too. Consider that some Myriam Schaefer bags can cost upwards of $7,000; these Tibi creations start at $850 and top out at $1,295. If that’s still too steep of a price tag, hold out until the next collection rolls out. Smilovic hinted at introducing a teeny baby bag into the range, in addition to a larger weekend bag.

Tibi Mignon Bag by Myriam Schaefer.

Tibi Mignon Bag by Myriam Schaefer. Courtesy Tibi

I don’t know about you, but acquiring one of these Tibi bags has just landed at the top of my 2017 resolution list.