June 24 2014
When it comes to creating chic beach totes, Antonello has certainly upped the ante. Known for producing a limited number of luxurious hand-woven bags on looms in his native Sardinia, the London-based designer has created quite a stir in the world of sustainable fashion. But Antonello, whose beautiful bohemian bags have caught the eyes of American retailers, won't let his stateside success overshadow his heritage. We sat down with the man behind the brand to learn more about how his Mediterranean background remains the building block of his bag collection.
Why did you start designing handbags? What drew you to this particular medium?
My interest in fashion, retail and product development dates back to my economics degree in Italy, where I began to concentrate my research on the fashion market. This led me to pursue a career in the fashion industry. Later, when studying for a BA in Product Development at the London College of Fashion, I had the opportunity to be placed for work experience with leading fashion and retail companies like Prada and Paul Smith, which provided me with a new and different perspective on the world of fashion. I also worked with well-established accessories companies such as Mulberry and Fendi. From this experience, I started to develop a range of handbags with the fabrics my grandmother and my mother used. Most of my products are made with the technique of knot or grain work known as "pibiones".
Your Sardinian heritage has been a huge influence on your handbag line. Tell us how.
Antonello is a range of eco-luxury handbags made with Sardinian hand-woven fabrics. My personal story and attachment to Sardinia are integral to the handbags I design. My interest in using traditional Sardinian textile techniques is fueled by a desire to preserve as well as advance craft skills that are at risk of disappearing due to globalization and mass-produced designs.
Other than Sardinia, where do you find inspiration for your work?
My collections are rich in research on detailing, influenced by couture and by the search for wellbeing and materials that are ever more eco-conscious and sophisticated. The themes are inspired by Sardinian historic locations, from which each bag takes the name, and the linear styles inherent in architecture.
Why was it important to create an eco-conscious line?
It all happened by chance. The decision to experiment with Sardinian hand-woven fabrics (produced in ethically managed factories and workshops managed entirely by women) resulted in an exclusive ‘eco-luxury’ line of accessories that uses sustainable yarns made from naturally dyed Sardinian wools and recycled cotton.
Which Antonello bag is your favorite?
Capriccioli — the large tote and our best-selling bag! It is named after a beach on the Emerald Coast in Sardinia — one of my favorite places.
What bag are you currently carrying and what’s inside?
My current project is to design a bag for myself — I’ve been meaning to do it for a very long time. In the meantime, I’m carrying a suede Prada bag packed with my essential work tools.
What famous person would you most want to see wearing one of your bags?
Anna Wintour. Although she is rarely seen carrying a bag.
Which handbag designer do you admire most and why?
I greatly admire Miuccia Prada. She is an inspiration because she always evolves through time.
Name three items in your closet that you cannot live without.
1 & 2) Jumpers and cardigans — a must for British weather.
3) Trainers. I love walking!
If you weren’t designing handbags, what career would you have?
I would probably be working in fashion retail. I loved working in this sector when I was a student!
Shop the Antonello collection at Roztayger. (More inventory expected in September.)
Founded by fashion industry veteran Elizabeth Jeffer-Anerousis, Roztayger offers a timeless and versatile selection of men’s and women’s handbags, totes, wallets, briefcases, travel bags, electronic cases, and small goods made of quality materials.