By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Back in 2015, the island of Banda Aceh was the epicentre for one of the biggest disasters in recent memory – the Asian tsunami.
One seasoned traveller, Brianna Jane, was in love with that island, and devastated when she learned of its virtual destruction and the consequent economic and social chaos that followed. Unfortunately, the island was affected not only by environmental disasters, a nasty civil war and strict Sharia Law, all of which contributed to Brianna Jane’s sense of wanting to do something to help. After careful consideration, she realised that she could employ a small group of artisans she met on the island to create a line of beautiful bags. And so Banda Bags were born.
A combination of hand-embroidery and paddle wheel sewing are the two main skills used to create these artistic accessories. The artisans at work are provided with a fair wage and the chance of growing professionally. Each handbag is infused with Indonesian culture and elegant craftsmanship.
Sure, the bags could be more eco-friendly (they are made from nylon), but Brianna Jane was more concerned about launching a humanitarian enterprise that wouldn’t harm animals, and the result is a line of leather-like bags that includes multiple styles, such as spacious weekender bags, tiny nano handbags, practical totes, trendy bucket bags and useful backpacks, for both men and women. There are also delicately feminine clutches and jewels that pair elegantly with all the pieces of the collection.
No wonder celebrities worldwide have grown extremely fond of this brand. Model Tiffany Toth has been spotted with her Banda Bag on her holiday to Bali, just as mannequins Dessie Mitcheson, Rose Bertram and Emily DiDonato have. TV personality Jessica Hall was seen traveling with her baby and Banda Bags arriving with her friend Kendra Wilkinson at the Sundance film festival, sporting one of these Indonesian travel bags. The list of personalities who adore Banda Bags continues with actress Rachel Bilson, singer Ricardo Montaner and many more, and is bound to grow further.
Bali may be Indonesia’s foremost tourist destination, thanks to its laid back, vegan vibe. But who knows? Maybe the growth of ethical fashion and the popularity of vegan luxury like Banda Bags is setting the stage for Banda Aceh to become ‘the next Bali’.
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