In the bag.
Just in time for the holidays, Stuart Weitzman is introducing a limited-edition collection of handbags taking a cue from the brand’s special occasion shoe offering.
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The Tapestry Inc.-owned brand has produced handbags previously but phased them out in holiday 2019, and the new collection marks a fresh take on the category from Edmundo Castillo, head of design for the brand. Castillo credits a refreshed energy reverberating through the brand post-pandemic and customer feedback, leading it to jump back into the category.
“This time I wanted the handbags to be able to be treated like we treat the shoes,” Castillo said in an interview, explaining that his team thought meticulously about the details. “They feel great in the hand, they are light, they are emotional and practical,” he said, adding that he wanted “bags that are timeless and not necessarily linked to a trend, but more to a product that you just want to have.”
Castillo created the assortment using materials and treatments found in his footwear but is quick to point out that it’s not necessarily about exactly matching. “We want to complement the shoe in a more modern way,” he said, adding that he wanted styles that can work in a wide variety of life’s moments. “Why not wear a crystal bag with your denim, leather boots and leather jacket? Give it a little twist.”
Freshly back in New York after some time at the brand’s European factories, Castillo sees a customer who is ready to mark occasions again and wants to dress up. “The airports are packed. I think that people are ready to go out and have a great time,” he said.
“We’re living a very particular time in fashion today where everything is much faster,” he said. “For the brand it’s about staying vigilant about what is happening. When we came out of COVID-19, everybody wanted the highest of the heels. And we were able to quickly react to that, to work on a type of collection that would match the times,“ he said of the brand’s footwear.
And now, just in time for holiday, “a handbag does make a good gift.”
The collection debuts with three shapes: The Love Letter clutch, a take on an envelope shape; the Vip Clutch, a new take on a classic rectangular structured clutch, and the Moda Shine Mini Tote, a mini top-handle pouch in luxe crystal-embellished mesh. Priced from $450 to $795, each comes with a detachable strap and focuses on functionality, fitting all of life’s modern essentials. Castillo designs in New York City and the majority of Stuart Weitzman footwear is crafted by artisans in Spain, with the handbags featuring design elements crafted in Italy. “We want to keep them in the luxury category, with the same level of quality that our shoes have,” he said.
The limited edition collection launches Thursday, debuting with a campaign on digital channels and selling on stuartweitzman.com, at select Stuart Weitzman boutiques, Bergdorf Goodman, Shopbop and more.
Last September Stuart Weitzman named Kim Kardashian global ambassador. The reality TV star-turned-entrepreneur featured in the brand’s fall 2022 campaign, lensed by Mario Sorrenti. Called “Stand Strong,” it also continues the brand’s philanthropic efforts, partnering with Vital Voices Global.
The visuals are part of a larger rebrand for Stuart Weitzman, which is aiming to reconnect with its roots and anchor itself in the luxury fashion market, spearheaded by Castillo, who joined the brand in 2018.
In the past Castillo has operated a namesake brand, which was stocked at luxury stores including Bergdorf Goodman. He has also held lead design roles for Aquatalia, Castañer, Via Spiga, Santoni, Sergio Rossi and Tod’s before coming to Tapestry.
The three new bags are just the beginning of the category relaunch, with Castillo sharing that the brand will be slowing expanding handbags moving forward. “We’re going little by little, testing the waters. We didn’t want to go out with a gigantic collection,” he said. Fall 2023 — a big season for the brand known for its boot offering — will see the addition of day bag options, and even more shapes.
“It’s my vision for the brand to always keep the collections timeless, iconic, while keeping our customers interested in what we’re doing new,” he said.