Snob Essentials

The CALGARY Bag by Bill Amberg for The Business of Fashion

CALGARY Bag Lead Patent.jpgCALGARY Orange Patent Limited Edition.jpg

One of the best parts of New York Fashion Week is meeting people I admire and respect. I’ve been following Imran Amed, founder and editor of the Business of Fashion (an addictive site for the fashion obsessed!) for a year now and finally met him at a Gucci event this week– I was so pleased to discover that he is as thoughtful and intelligent in person as I always imagined him to be (and the fact that he’s a total bag snob was just the icing on the cake!). We ran into each other again backstage at Thakoon where he was carrying the coolest messenger bag from Bill Amberg— I of course tore it off his back to examine every inch of it and almost begged him to give it to me when I found out it’s completely sold out. That’s when he excitedly shared details of the Calgary bag that he co-designed and co-conceived with Amberg (one of the most respected leather craftsman in the UK).

I’d never heard of Bill Amberg prior to this conversation, but Imran’s enthusiasm was so infectious that I had to do a bit of investigating on my own. What I discovered was impressive– Bill Amberg bags are all designed and meticulously made in house at his London studio by experienced leather craftsmen, including the Calgary bag (named after Imran’s birthplace in Alberta Canada). I love this unisex tote, it strike the perfect balance of fashion and function– a simply designed utilitarian style with artful touches like the braided shoulder strap and entirely lined with neoprene to protect MacBook/iPhone/Blackberries. It also holds a change of clothes– for the gym or the morning after depending on your lifestyle!

6 limited edition CALGARY bags are currently available– Red Patent, Orange Patent, Black Ponyskin (my favorite!), Purple Mock Croc, Tan woven and Tan Nubuck at Bill for £950.

They’re also conducting a “Crowdsourcing” experiment with the Calgary collection. Three additional colors ((Black Smooth Cowhide, Lead Patent and Brown Cowhide– £495) will be up for voting by all of you and final production will be determined by the results.  Derek Lam for eBay dresses has a similar experiment– it will be interesting to see how crowdsourcing shapes the fashion industry.  Will the masses be dictating to designers in the future?!?!  I have mixed feelings about this– on the one hand I think it’s smart marketing, on the other I think it is potentially detrimental to designers.  I mean we buy certain designers because we see them as arbiters of style, if they’re allowing the masses to determine what they make, are we buying what Aunt Martha thinks is cool?!  What do you guys think?  Discuss!

Win a Calgary Bag

Dying for one of these totes?  Take the survey here and you’ll be eligible to win a Calgary bag (winner chosen via random computer drawing).

CALGARY Black Ponyskin Limited Edition.jpgCALGARY Red Patent Limited Edition.jpg

This is a great video on the making of the Calgary bag.


CALGARY Bag Black.jpgCALGARY Bag Brown.jpgCALGARY Mock Croc Limited Edition.jpgCALGARY Tan Nubuck Limited Edition.jpgCALGARY Tan Woven Limited Edition.jpg

As you can see, the interior is very organized. You can go from office/school to gym/cocktails seamlessly.

 crowdsource copy (lo-res).jpgCALGARY Bag Circle (web-res).jpgCALGARY Bag Panorama (lo-res).jpgCALGARY limited edition (web-res).jpg



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  1. Very well designed and made, indeed! Personally, I don’t believe that “crowdsourcing” is a good thing in fashion, because very often people who vote are not necessarily the ones who buy.

  2. Not a fan of crowdsourcing – it’s the extreme version of ‘design by committee’ imo. This bag is lovely but I wouldn’t be comfortable on the subway with my PDA, etc within easy grab, not to mention using it in rain and sleet – it would’ve been more practical to make it a tad deeper and add a zipper (and let’s face it totes are, by their very function, a practical accessory.


  3. I am not a fan of crowdsourcing because I think many people who vote A) may not be the ones who would purchase anything, and B) may lack the ability to see the potential of the fashion item. For example, a bag may look slightly unusual at first but after seeing it on other fashionable women in context (with a great looking outfit, etc.), the bag could develop a following. I’d hate to see that the only bags that get made are those that are obvious to the masses.

  4. LOVE this bag! The answer to all my practical needs, perfect for everyday; going to work, holding my gym kit and even taking me through to evening. Great variety of colours aswell – my personal favourite is the Red Patent Leather. Each bag bought also comes with your own name written inside by Bill himself – very chic and very cool! I want one.