They’re In: 2012 Winners of Independent Handbag Designer Awards

In What's New, Industry News by Jeff Prine

IHDA Best Overall: Mint Green Clutch by Bita and Rouzita Vahhabaghai, ita Collection

New York—Handbag designs were the center of attention on Wednesday night among the Big Apple’s fashion elite. And deservedly so at the 6th annual Independent Handbag Designer Awards (IHDA)  presented by Handbag Designer 101.

Held at the Time-Life Building’s auditorium, the awards ceremony drew some 400 attendees—including designers from dozens of countries—who anxiously awaited the results. Emily Blumenthal, the awards’ creator and founder of Handbag Designer 101, said this year’s contest resulted in a record 1,000 handbag entrees which judges had to be pare down to the final 30 in seven categories.

That was no easy feat either, Blumenthal noted, as did representatives from sponsoring companies such as Timberland, Kipling,, Singer Sewing and JP Selects. Blumenthal paid tribute to the designers who came from as far away as Australia, Poland, Hungary, Costa Rica and Lebanon (well, almost, Harith Hashim of HariTHanD got held up by customs at the last minute).

But up and comers in the handbag business weren’t the only ones recognized. Kenneth Cole received the Iconoclast Award for his 30 years in the business, a success story “combining unique New York style, business acumen, philanthropic convictions and provocative social voice.”

Recounting his rise, Cole offered his some advice to budding designers, some of which came directly from his iconic, ironic advertisements: “If you can’t change the world alone you can always be an accessory.”

This year’s winners were:

The Best Handbag in Overall Style & Design

“Farah” style from the Jewel Series, Clutch, Mint Green Nubuck, retail: $875 by Bita and Rouzita Vahhabaghai, ita Collection

The Singer Simplicity Best Handmade Handbag

"The Lady Knight" Messenger by Sheila Harper Handbags of HarperJairdan

“The Lady Knight” Messenger, black goat and lambskin leather, retail: $895

By Sheila Harper Handbags of HarperJairdan,

The Best Student Made Handbag

Ophilya by Krystal Sokolis, Savannah College of Art and Design

“Ophilya,” hard leather bag, hand woven leather, plum purple, retail: $550

By Krystal Sokolis, Savannah College of Art and Design. Her design will be incorporated into’s private label program.



Best Green Handbag (sponsored by Timberland and Amorim Cork Composites)

Carryall by Fiona Kempton of Kempton & Co.

Carryall, vintage textile with reclaimed hardware and leather trim, retail: $495

By Fiona Kempton of Kempton & Co.Wiltshire, England



The Most Socially Responsible Handbag (sponsored by JP Selects)

Crossbody "Hand" by Marisa Collado of Arbol de Viento, Mexico

“The Hand” style, crossbody, red cowhide and palm weaving, button: animal bone, retail: $155

By Marisa Collado of Arbol de Viento, Mexico









Creating with Nylon by Kipling (Sponsored by Kipling)

Multifunctional bag concept by Aimee Kestenberg

Three-in-one convertible shopper by Aimee Kestenberg: Aimee Kestenberg for Kipling, Australia








"Luba" by Jennifer Lang of J. Lang, Costa Rica Audience Fan Favorite

“Luba” Style, Mini Tote, Ivory Lamb Skin.

Retail: $350

By Jennifer Lang of J. Lang, Costa Rica

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