Imagine the personalized fun of a Build-a-Bear workshop crossed with the sophisticated artistry of an Italian leather atelier and you get a sense of the appeal of Mon Purse, an online design-your-own luxury handbag and leather accessories brand which offers a mind-boggling 10 billion possible design combinations. In 2014 Lana Hopkins spent a day in Bondi Junction on a quest to buy a perfect handbag. Returning home empty-handed, she resolved to convert her exasperation at not finding “The One” into setting up an e-business that would enable people to create their dream bag, uniquely personalised, at an affordable price. “I was frustrated with always having to compromise,” says Lana, 33, a former advertising sales executive based in Sydney. “Designer handbags are an investment. If you are going to spend that much money, the bag should be a gorgeous shape, in beautiful leather, every detail styled with European craftsmanship. And the shopping experience? For me, theatre in retail is everything.”
Very much in tune with the Vanity Fair spirit of entrepreneurship, Lana—who has 40 bags and counting, and a love of the whiff of new leather—considers herself a “disrupter” in the industry. Her customers use online 3D modelling software (constantly evolving thanks to the Mon Purse in-house team of data scientists) to conjure their own classic bag from a variety of shapes (tote, bucket, shopper, cross body, clutch, bowler bag, backpack, top handle bags, and so on), leathers (grainy, smooth, suede), linings, straps and metal hardware, all in a kaleidoscopic palette of colours. Each item’s final stamp of distinction comes with the application of a discreet and fun monogramming. If you know what you want, the process can take as little as four minutes. If you’re indecisive by nature, it’s a whole lot of experimental fun.
Her progressive approach has resulted in a whirlwind global success story: London fashionistas love the oversized clutch and the top-handle bag; in New York, the bucket bag is the must-have. Two years on from launching, Mon Purse has “galleries” in Bloomingdales in the United States (where its 850ft space in the San Francisco store replaced Dior). In the UK, the full personalisation service is available exclusively in Selfridges (London, Manchester and Birmingham), with a resident artist soon to be appointed poised to hand-paint unicorns, ice cream sundaes, mermaids, whatever… Lana has a horse painted on her iPhone case.
Mon Purse at Selfridge, 400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB. monpurse.com