UPDATED: In addition to the 7 Made-in-India Genuine Leather Bag Makers updated below, do visit the A-to-Z of Bags brands from India. I am sure you would love it!
As a little girl, the first luxury brand I knew was Hidesign. Handbags were all I could focus on back then apart from my studies and I was always on the lookout for great bags, leather or not, luxury or otherwise. I couldn’t afford a Hidesign bag in those days, but I did, within a couple of years of having started my job. And boy, I was beaming that day and proud of my achievement! It has been a pleasure watching the brand grow in all these years with me and churn out bag after bag of solid craftsmanship. I also watched with glee as there came about more and more brands to feed my insatiable appetite as also of the country’s growing working class. Leather bags are an investment and hence must only be bought from credible, genuine vendors. Here I present to you 7 shudh desi, home grown leather bag makers.
This had to come first and honestly, who wouldn’t have heard of this brand in India?! Started in 1978, the brand has come to be synonymous with genuine leather and skilled craftsmanship. It is looked up to with respect and its bags are highly sought after for their luxe leather, textures, variety in styles, rich saturated colors and a focus on ecology, using only vegetable tanned hides. They have a massive footprint across the globe as well. You can read about the Hidesign bags covered on the blog here.
They are the creators of delightful bags in almost all colors of the spectrum, converging traditional Indian motifs and contemporary silhouettes. This vibrancy is reflective of the country’s grand diversity. Few know that Holii is jointly owned by Hidesign and the Future Group.
For me, TLB is like the brand-next-door. But make no mistake, they are backed by more than 25 years of sourcing genuine hides from across the world. They know their leather inside out and give you nothing but the finest Nappa and Analine (leather dyed in a way that doesn’t alter the surface texture of the original animal’s skin hence retains the full grain, scars etc.). Their leather jackets need a special mention here for being stylish to the hilt.
Before launching Viari, the founders, Vidhu and Arijeet, supplied leather to the finest fashion houses internationally. After gaining a stronghold of the entire production process floating a brand of their own was but a natural progression. Their design philosophy is so much aligned with mine – they focus not just on form in the name of style but function as well. They are also treading the eco-friendly route – having the rain water harvesting system at their factory in Chennai, for instance.
5. Nappa Dori
Indian ethos forms the very DNA of the brand; Nappa Dori translates to ‘leather and thread’. It has the knowledge and “unique creative flair” of its founder Gautam Sinha, a NIFT graduate. His creative skills have been acknowledged by none other than the British Council as one of the five most talented designers to watch out for. Their bags are simple, utilitarian yet sophisticated enough for the global platform. Do watch out for their trunks that I think are their unique offering, reminding me so much of the iconic Louis Vuitton ones. They also debuted their footwear range last year. They offer a number of other accessories such as belts, Macbook covers, iPad covers and stationery.
This is the most recent discovery in my crusade for all things bags. Baroque was found around 3 years back by two friends – Sumalini Khullar and Deviana Gupta. They have pure leather bags as well as an interesting mix of other fabric with leather. This makes the end product colourful and a sight to behold. The most interesting aspect about them is the bespoke service they provide. More on them coming up soon in an exclusive Baroque feature on BagsLounge.
A relatively lesser known brand, the beginnings of Adamis go back to 1965 making it the oldest brand in the list. In addition to making leather bags, they also supply finished leather hides to other manufacturers. Their designs are simple yet highly functional and cater to the needs of all age groups. The bags are truly spacious and well compartmentalized. They too have a host of other accessories such as coin purses, cosmetic cases, spectacle cases and such. They offer a lifetime repair warranty, where most repairs are done free of charge.
Apart from the above, I’ll also mention a few other brands. Lavie has recently ventured into leather bags. For hand-painted leather bags, look no further than Vakaro. They have not been active off late – neither on their site nor on their Facebook page, which is why I relegate them to the end. I’d update this list as and when I come across more genuine leather bag makers. Do you know of any? Let me know in the comments!