BAIA: ONE DESIGNER'S QUEST TO BRING BESPOKE TO THE MASSES

BAIA BAGS | HEAVEN HAS HEELS

I bought it in Dijon, France. It was an impulse buy; a cute pleated, pastel pink skirt. I thought it would be a great addition to my wardrobe. Better yet, having bought it in a store far, far away it would be a one-of-a-kind piece at a bargain, mass market price. I was wrong. Visiting friends half-a-world away in Bondi Beach, Sydney Australia I literally bumped into a girl wearing exactly the same thing. She had bought hers in Sweden.

The problem with the globalization of fashion is that our individual style—from the places we’ve traveled, to the statement we choose to make—becomes increasingly difficult. More and more, consumers are searching out independent designers who reflect, not only a particular aesthetic, but also a design philosophy that goes beyond the bottom line. Enter British handbag label Baia, whose made-to-order bags are taking the accessory world by storm.

Founder, owner and designer Susy Brown started the company from her spare room after discovering her passion for creating handbags. Having studied fashion at Manchester Metropolitan University she wasn’t quite sure which direction she’d like to take. It was a placement with a nearby bespoke bag company that ignited her love for handbag design and inspired her to create her own line, Baia.

BAIA BAGS | HEAVEN HAS HEELS

Brown developed a simple, four-step Online process that takes the consumer from concept to creation. First, you pick which style of bag you’d like, then you choose the color of the leather, decide on the lining and strap and place your order. If that seems too much, Baia also has a seasonal collection from which to choose. A strong believer in the quality of British design and manufacturing, every element is made in Britain—with metal plates from Sheffield, cotton lining from Manchester, and metal work from Cheshire. But it’s not this home-grown element alone that has helped her amass a loyal clientele since opening three years ago.

“I don’t believe any customer would buy for the sake of British-ness,” says Brown. “I’ve noticed a real movement by brands to embrace their British-ness and all that suggests integrity, quality and a certain exclusivity. We have a distinct group of British customers who have made a decision to ‘buy British’ from an ethical perspective. Our international customers seem more drawn to our pieces, than to the place they were produced. Though no matter how British a brand is, it still needs to be authentic and attractive in what it does. Quality and attention to detail are absolutely a part of that appeal, and principles that I think are part of the ‘Made in Britain’ approach.”

This season, Baia’s focus is on simplicity, sophistication and luxury. It’s an exciting development for the contemporary brand. “It’s a huge change for Baia,” says Brown. “A real out with the old, in with the new approach. We have a completely new collection—new designs, new textures, new leathers, new metal work, new everything.” With a company mission to create bags that people will “want, use and adore,” Baia belongs to the next generation of design—one dedicated to individuality at a price we can all afford. BaiaBags.co.uk — ANGELA GILLTRAP