From Russia with Love: The Inspirational Flower Clutch Bags

Bagstowear - Asten Atelier - Flower Motives - 3.1
Spring mood all along..

As you’re well aware within our Interview section we’re introducing you to some of the most talented handbag designers from all over the globe, many of which might not yet have  their own high street presence, many of which are at the starting path of their exponentially fast-growing careers etc, however many of these may well become in future the next Kate Spade’s, Michael Kors’s, or even the next Mulberry’s, who knows?

Helping these designers have their say within a wider inquisitive fashion news-space is what we’re aspiring to achieve so thoroughly, simply because their talent and uniqueness precedes them and so deserves to be heard about/seen.

Today we’re happy to introduce you to a brand set up in St. Petersbourgh, Russia – ASTEN Atelier.

Also, please note THIS WEEK ONLY THIS EXQUISITE ASTEN CLUTCH IS ON SALE!

To Buy, follow this link: http://ebay.eu/21Gh9vG

What were we looking to find out by means of this interview? Firstly, how come leather flowers may look so natural as if these are actual ones? Who wouldn’t want to wear flowers that never fade? Here’re a few photos which inspired us to get out in the sun and make a few photo shoots in the vibrant streets of London:

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Introducing the Fab Lime Green Flower Clutch

 

 

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The Hospital Club, London – featuring Asten’s Lime Green Clutch

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Being really fond of the clutch! Who can blame when it comes to such a beauty?

 

Here we’d like to share a note of gratitude with Michael & Daniel from The Hospital Club, London who have kindly agreed to let us take these photo shoots inside their diverse & awesomely funky interiors!!

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In the heart of Covent Garden, London.  Big Thanks to Our Model  for taking part in our photo shoots: Eve Carbonneaux

 

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Still walking down the streets of London..

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Covent Garden, London

 

Here we’ve matched a ‘going out’ look which suits nicely with some of the key flower colours embelished on the exquisite, soft leather texture:

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Our Going Out Look – Some Ideas for Inspiration..

 

Now let’s go ‘behind the scenes’ and hear from the lead designer Asten about her source inspirations, her brand and her lovable collections:

 Question 1, @Bagstowear (@BTW):

We’ve come across your clutch collection while browsing one of Russian’s most popular social networks. Here we’ve seen an abundance of your past and recent works as well as their inspirational photo albums. Tell us a little bit about yourself and how have you layed down the foundations for your brand? What were your inpirations and motivations to keep it going with such a breath of diversity and colour?

ASTEN:

My passion for art & craftsmanship have been gradually defining me since childhood. I’ve always been dreaming of becoming a fashion designer. That’s why when time has come to choose a profession the answer was obvious. You see, I’m utterly in love with bags and accessories made up from genuine leather. Unfortunately the financial family background at the time wouldn’t allow me to acquire such purses of high quality. That’s why I’ve started researching the manufacture techniques on my own. Initially, I was making clutches for myself. Once my friends have started asking me to sell them some I figured there might be a demand and that could lay grounds for an actual designing career. 9 years ago I could hardly imagine that my hobby could turn out into a proper entrepreneurship. Back then flower clutches were made under the brand name Asten Rimell, founded in partnership with my husband, relationship which wasn’t meant to last between us. At the time I was quite uncertain about standing up on my own and so thought I was in need of a partner to support me. The actual idea of creating leather-made flowers and attaching them to clutches has come almost ‘at the drop of a hat’: I was merely looking to make use of the remaining material which was left aside/made redundant once the clutches were completed. Months later, I’ve created a special fabric mix made up of leather which allowed to design flower shapes as close as possible to their natural ‘counterparts’. Perhaps also the actual idea of applying flowers on clutches came out of fewer flowers I was receiving at the time so that might have been one way of bringing them back into my life:).

4 years since I’m finding my production process completely waste-free, all due to the lovely flowers which have made their way through my heart.

We were aiming to develop fast but it seemed I’ve been always been dragged back so in October 2014 I took the decision to leave behind Asten Rimmel, have equipped myself with my manufacturing techniques (which I’ve preserved under my name) and have set up a production house under a new brand name: ASTEN Atelier.

Former relationship as well as my work at Asten Rimmel have allowed me to see some of the key drawbacks of managing a fashion business, so that when I’ve started on my own under the name ASTEN (the abbreviation from my name Anastasia) I’ve completely changed company policy and have since been completely reliant on my gut feelings, which I think haven’t let me down since.

I have to admit, starting on my own has been tough. Next to me though was my new loving partner who’s been supporting me all along and has injected in my veins that breath of confidence I was previously lacking. He’s helped me feel loved and so highly inspired again. I am hugely grateful to him for his support. For example, while working on my first collection he used to send me flower bouquets which were helping with focusing on my work and were a great source for inspiration! He’s still wrapping me up with flowers..

It would be fair to say that the actual source for inspiration came from my new relationship: I began feeling loved again, positive again and merely started enjoying live as it is! I’m sharing parts of my inspiration with every client, with every clutch I’m working on. Judging by our daily feedbacks it looks like my buyers can feel this too.

Question 2, @BTW:

When you’re introducing a new product each time you’re attaching its artistic background: as if all of your clutches are ‘speaking the flower language’ – all of them have flower motives applied onto them, as per the below example. Is this background standing for their initial inspiration or it’s the motiv you associate with once the product is ready to be released to the wider public?

Example:

Bagstowear - Asten Atelier - Flower Motives

Asten Clutch, Model nr. 1006

 

Example of background used:

Bagstowear - Asten Atelier - Flower Motives

Background matching ASTEN’s clutch 1006

 

ASTEN:

Very interesting question. One of the main aims ASTEN atelier is trying to achieve through its every clutch is to reveal the flower shapes, their look & feel as to best match the original pieces. Alongside every new collection I’m trying to explore new flower breeds/types: throughout the year myself and the team are exploring flower types while walking through public gardens, while reading specialized books…

Initially, when we’re laying the foundation for a new collection I’m getting myself equipped with a few sources for inspiration: these can be unusual flower matches coupled with compulsory few I’d like to then reflect through a suitable leather fabric. For example, this year the novelty is brought by such flower breeds as: crocus, jasmine, selected breeds from the House of Delbard, gradient amaryllis, petunia, etc.

We’re then selecting the raw material: by touching the leather, flexing it and matching it up. That’s when the actual visual of the end composition comes to mind. My work is usually being marked by the first impression which rarely lets me down. Years-long of experience of working with leather fabrics helps choose the suitable fabric for the right flower mix via a single hand-touch. In the final stage of production, the background and pictures are merely matched up to help me share the feelings surrounding me when choosing the flower mixes and coming up with new collection ideas.

 

Question 3, @BTW:

Along with any new clutch model you’re attaching one of your credo statements, such as the below: ‘Our thoughts have the capability of changing the reality we leave in’ = meaning anyone is capable of reaching theIR desirable heights while the mere word ‘impossible’ is what’s driving your own engine forward, as in the below examples.  Take us ‘behind the scenes': what happens in ASTEN ATELIER every time a new idea comes to live? (Any pictures from the inner atelier environment with process commentary would be very insightful).

EXAMPLES:

 

Bagstowear - Asten Atelier - Flower Motives - 5.1

Loving the intense red..

 

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Flower choices able to lift up the mood & become the key piece of your attire..

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Spring mood all along..

 

ASTEN:

The working schedule at ASTEN atelier starts from an early morning and finishes up late at night. Sometimes my working day starts at 6am and finishes around 2pm (that’s hardly a joke..). Despite only a few members of our team we’re well equipped to work on a few different orders at the same time: someone is working on a dip made of natural silk, someone is remodelling the lace while someone is cutting out the shapes of the leaves, etc.

The very last step of the process through requires a larger team to get through with the finishes. All leaves are drawn and cut manually which is why every clutch (even though belonging to the same model) has a unique touch.  All the raw materials are being supplied from Italy. I’m personally selecting all the leather and lace fabrics for each clutch model.

I’m a firm believer in the high quality of my products which is based on a thorough selection of leather combined with tenacious manual work. Regarding ‘the impossible turning possible’ – I love being challenged as well as being open to new experiences, am easily setting in front of myself new goals to reach, even though at times that means leaving my comfort zone. That’s the only way to grow, move forward..

 

Question 4, @BTW:

One of Your first clutch models was named Adeline, later becoming Adele 536. How do you choose your clutch models and do they have a certain meaning ‘behind the scenes’?

That’s an easy one! Some of the models are named after people who played an important role in my life or are stirring up special feelings, emotions (eg. Anna – the name of my beloved grandmother, Magdalena – after Maria Magdalena, Nastasia – representing the inner side of me, etc). Other models are named after the flower types they are wrapped up with: eg. Marie Curie, Madam Delbard, Red Red Rose, Brunnera, Vino, etc.). Every case is unique!

Here’s Adeline:

 

Bagstowear - Asten Atelier - Adeline - one of the first clutches

Asten’s Adeline Clutch, One of the first Ones..

 

ASTEN:

That’s an easy one! Some of the models are named after people who played an important role in my life or are stirring up special feelings, emotions (eg. Anna – the name of my beloved grandmother, Magdalena – after Maria Magdalena, Nastasia – representing the inner side of me, etc). Other models are named after the flower types they are wrapped up with: eg. Marie Curie, Madam Delbard, Red Red Rose, Brunnera, Vino, etc.). Every case is unique!

 

Question 5, @BTW:

To have a better understanding of your audience: could you please describe who are your bespoke clutches being ordered by? What are their taste preferences? Their lifestyle? Why are they choosing to shop at Asten Atelier and once chosen how often do they get back for more?

 

ASTEN:

Even though our designer niche might appear fairly narrow as we’re producing particularly flower clutches, our audience is well extended among women aged between 15 – 70 years old. Most frequent buyers are younger ladies aged 20-35. All of them share absolutely different preferences, lifestyles: ranging from younger students to public figures engaged in politics, entertainment, show-biz, etc. What makes a bond between them is their admiration for flowers, their sense of individuality. Very often most of them tend to continue being our clients long-term, for years to come.

Our clients are not shy of sharing with us their feelings when wearing our clutches, they then connect with us on a more regular level, sharing with us their updates – both personal and professional ones. Perhaps this type of communication helps me come up with most suitable products for our clients, leading us into the right direction.

 

Question 6, @BTW:

You’re selecting your leather material with particular care, attention to detail. In some cases you even have to wait your supplier to bring you the right material as in the below case when you’ve waited over 4 years to get the right texture! Do you often receive the same level of expectation from your buyers who are happy to wait somewhat longer to just get the product they’ve dreamt of?

 

The clutch which has waited its material for over 4 years!:

 

Bagstowear - Asten Atelier - Flower Motives - 7.1 - Leather material - 4 years in making

The exclusive leather clutch, 4 years in making

 

ASTEN:

I’m working with leather fabrics for over 9 years now. I’m personally sewing over 300 clutches/year, therefore can easily tell which leather fabric would best suit when sewing a rose, a peony flower or some other one. I can even find the right leather fabric in our warehouse by its smell. I know, this may sound a bit awkward but years of experience do have their say..The type of leather we couldn’t find in Russia for a little over 4 years perfectly suits to shape such flowers like lily-of-the-valley & snowdrops.

These are particularly laborious, very special and so complicated in making. At the moment all these raw fabrics are expecting the launch of our Winter 2016 collection. Regarding the orders we’re receiving these are coming completely on a case-by-case scenario. Most often, the ranges we’ve already completed are enough to help them choose from. For more specific color matches we’re always stocking raw material which could be used for bespoke orders. These are not taking long – on average 2-10 days to complete the finishes.

 

Question 7, @BTW:

Are there any models that are repeatedly ordered more often than the others? Given your range of diversities what do you think keeps these models being so particularly popular? Are they being advertised more often or they’ve got an abundance of colour easy to match with plenty of attires?

Some of the many popular clutches:

Bagstowear - Asten Atelier - Flower Motives - Bordeaux

Bordeaux Beauty from Asten

 

Bagstowear - Asten Atelier - Flower Motives - Dark Blue

Dark Blue Texture

 

Bagstowear - Asten Atelier - Flower Motives - 6.1 - Mrs. Marina Gradient - art1018

Turquoise Clutch from Asten

 

ASTEN:

We’re constantly evaluating the stats based on the demand, the bestsellers. As for favorite models – these are definitely in place. Such are: Adele, Feelings, Magdalene mini, Marie Curie, Vino, Gardens of the world, Day-Lily, Nastasia a.o. The reason behind their popularity?

I think what counts here is being able to capture our buyers’ mood, even their hidden desires, that would best mirror their inner worlds. We’d aim to create widely preferred models which would appeal to many yet would look like being made ‘especially for them’. All models can then be adjusted to preferred sizes and colour matches. Our clients are after both bright and more neutral colors. That’s why we’re always having at hand such an energetic plethora of colors! Most likely the demand we’re getting for certain clutch models depends largely on the flower mix, which embellishes the fabric.

 

Question 8, @BTW:

There’s such a diversity of products you’ve made available to your public so far. What’s your team looking like? Who helps you bring these beauties to live?

ASTEN:

In our atelier everyone has their own role to play. Experience shows when specializing and working within a certain niche you’re more likely to achieve higher quality of your products and higher working efficiency. Our team has only one designer – that would be me. I’m the one to supply the team with initial set of ideas and have a final say. Therefore all samples defining new collections are being approved my end.

That’s being made to best feel the upcoming work granularity and following working processes. If our team members would then like to introduce some changes or make some new additions the path is open, as long as it’s well grounded. Corrections are made, yet I have to admit fairly rarely. I’m not an easy nut to crack:), especially when it comes to something I strongly believe in. We’ve also got a team of ‘emergency workaround’ who are quick enough to sort out the raw material for some of the urgent orders. I have to say – had it not been for their help, the latest Spring-Summer 2015 collection would have come at a much later stage a few pictures below from our ‘back stage':

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Asten Atelier’s Backstage

 

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Asten Atelier’s Backstage

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Asten Atelier’s Backstage

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Asten Atelier’s Backstage

 

I’m also holding regular workshop for my team members showing them how to shape up different flower types. Education process is rolling out throughout the entire year. We’ve also got our own suppliers who are often having a good guess about what kind of fabrics we could order. Some are supplying leather, some satin and lace. Particular contribution is being made by my beloved photographer and my florist. This team of 2 lovely ladies make up the core when it comes to the ultimate stage of every collection.

On this occasion we’ve got regular planning sessions which are helping sort out the final picture so that our photo shoot comes up naturally, with no actual obstacles. For instance, the sketches for our November photo shoot are already completed. These planning sessions are key particularly when launching new collections, helping every time ‘turning the impossible into possible’:)

 

Question 9, @BTW:

You’ve just announced you might be expanding your product line and start making dog carry bags, so it sounds there’re plenty of surprises yet to come which you’ll make available to your wider public. On this note, how easy it would make for an overseas buyer, such as buyers from the UK, Nothern Ireland, other western countries to order products from you? do these have to be bespoke orders or you’re having some wider/mass-production lines available for faster delivery?

ASTEN:

Indeed. The brand extension plan has been in making for a long time now, yet we’ve been constantly facing lack of time and work resource. Another issue is that every new model requires me crafting the sample on my own to start with to then be able to adjust final elements before we decide to go ahead with it. By the end of June our clients will be able to see 3 completely new models including a stylish dog-carrier bag.

The reason behind such a completely new line comes on the account of my partner’s unexpected gift! Since I’m not carrying purses made by other brands I simply had to accommodate my new companion’s preferencesJ. The bag is well-suited for business trips. It’s being manufactured from an exquisite leather fabric, while the dip is confectioned out of corkwood, for a rather practical use. That helps the product gain its high quality and eco-friendly image.

My lovely dog simply adores the bag I’ve made out for her (speaking particularly of comfort). I’m all about style and practicality, which suits my summer wardrobe! During autumn we’re expecting to further grow our product line which will add up further more surprises. As for the orders – we’re delivering these worldwide. Therefore, our clients from the UK & Ireland can continue to rely on us when ordering items they’ve selected from our portfolio. Just select the model you’d prefer from our collections: http://astenatelier.com/en/2015-05-22-17-57-04/newcollection and then simply get in touch to let us know.

 

Question 10, @BTW:

Finally, still on orders:) : How fast does it take to receive a bespoke product versus a ready-made one from you?

The models we have at hand could be send out straight away as soon as we’ve completed the order and payment forms. Usually, the orders sent to UK & Ireland would arrive within 1-2 weeks. Bespoke orders require an additional waiting time of 2-10 days.

Asten, Big Thank You for your time and honest answers! We wish you all the best and many more new collections to come satisfying you and your clients.

Big hug from @Bagstowear Team.

 

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