Having realized she wanted to make handbags at the age of 16, the entrepreneurial British designer sold her first piece at 19 after moving to Florence straight out of school.
Thirty years on, Anya Hindmarch, the brand, is both lucrative — with 56 stores in nine countries — and lauded, much-loved by fashion critics and celebrities alike.
While today her well known customers range from Kendall Jenner to Kate Moss and Kate Middleton — Diana, Princess of Wales was also a fan, referring to the Anya clutch as her “cleavage bag” because she would use it to hide her décolletage when coming out of cars.
The secret to this success? Over the years Hindmarch has identified the real needs and wants of women — whether that’s compartmentalization or her famous stickers.
The brand is known for its craftsmanship, customization, understanding of technology and ultimately, wit. With quirky designs and unexpected collaborations, Hindmarch’s archive includes entire collections inspired by everyday objects — from cereal boxes to confectionery snacks.
Her latest collection pays tribute to early video games, referencing their pixelated images and graphics. We spoke to Hindmarch to find out more about the business of bags.
What bag best describes you?
One of my bags is designed to look like a crisp packet, and that’s a really good example.
It’s all about how the product is made, and it really is a fascinating process. It’s this beautifully crafted piece of art that is very complicated to create, but it’s made in the shape of a crisp packet so you can’t take it too seriously.
I love the way it’s a little bit irreverent.
Which bag do you think is iconic to 2016?
The backpack. There’s a backpack in shearling that we recently released, and it’s had a tremendous response.
Models Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid have been wearing them everywhere together, and I feel it’s a special bag that will last a long time.
You hint at technology and digitization in your latest collection. How important, or influential, do you think technology is to artists today?
One of the things we’ve researched for this collection actually is image pixelation, and whether or not it can be considered an art.
It’s a highly debated topic right now and I would argue that yes, whether it’s a brush stroke or a square of color in a different form, it’s art.
And these days, this is how people consume art.
We see different types of art digitally than we do with more old fashioned methods.
It’s amazing what you can do with pixels these days, almost everything we look at now is made up of them.
Which photographer or artist did you discover on social media?
Quite a few. We’re actually working with someone now, Markus Magnusson (above animation), who we discovered on social media.
He’s done these lovely little animations for our newly-launched menswear line.
Another person to mention is Mr Singh, an artist we worked with last season, who we also discovered on social media.
Do you have any quirky habits you can share that inspire you to get creative?
I like to feed my brain.
It’s important to see lots of stuff, get out and travel often.
That said, it’s also important to relax your brain — sometimes we’re so glued to our phones that we don’t give ourselves a break and allow those ideas to cook.
Holidays, long drives… anything that lets you take a break from your smartphone and multi-tasking. And sometimes a glass of wine.
Do you ever feel like you’re out of ideas?
No, honestly, I think if anything it’s the reverse. And the important thing is to take one and, from there, dig and dig.
Which bag is your best kept secret?
Well actually it’s the things that go inside my bags.
There’s a beautiful, simple satchel bag, but when you look inside, it’s completely organized.
It has a place for your phone, your credit cards, and I’m actually a bit of an organizational nut, which happens as we’re all so busy as women.
Which bag makes you blush?
Well most likely the bag that looks like a crisp packet, because it was thrown at poor old Jay Z.
It still makes me go a little bit hot and cold at the thought of it going anywhere near his eye — that would have been awful.