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One to Watch

While chatting with several fashion editors about the hottest new handbags, one name kept coming up: Ela. We wanted to know more about this up-and-coming line, so we tracked down the brainchild behind the brand, Ela Kowalewska, who previously held positions at both H鑢mes Canada and Burberry (what better places to learn the ins and outs of elegance and structure?). Ela brings this foundation to her collection with co-founder Martin Aldorsson梐nd adds her own flare with color and texture.

We are swooning over your line. What was the main reason you started designing handbags?
Aside from a true love for design and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, it was the realization and need that came from a void in the affordable luxury marketplace. There wasn抰 a good selection of handbags offered with a great design aesthetic and quality at an accessible price point. The timing was also right, as Martin and I had worked in the industry for 10 years and felt we could offer something different.

What is the key to making a luxurious bag that is also functional?
The key is to focus on essential must-have silhouettes that will last over a period of time, while also keeping the wearer in mind by choosing high-quality but lightweight hardware, lining and leather and adding functional elements such as adjustable shoulder straps, an interior key fob and smart pockets. Our bags keep our customers organized and ready to face the day.

The M.I.L.C.K clutch (named fittingly for bag essentials money, ID, lipstick, cell and keys) is the perfect accessory to make any outfit pop. What is your favorite way to dress around one?
My favorite way to wear a bright M.I.L.C.K clutch梩hink neon or hot pink梚s with a pair of fitted jeans and a lightweight jersey tee along with a great pump. The look is very effortless, but at the same time, the M.I.L.C.K. clutch gives it that personal touch.

What textures and colors do you expect to be big this fall?
We have a number of different textures we are introducing for Ela this fall. One is a new signature we have developed of continuous embossed pyramid studs, which will be available in mirror leather, graphite, lipstick, lizard and sand cowhide leathers. The embossing process gives the feeling of a soft textured edge mixed with a clean aesthetic of the design, reflecting the brand's humble luxury philosophy. We are also texturizing some of our signature silhouettes with front panels of fur in rich tones such as plum, emerald and navy.

Besides M.I.L.C.K what do you always try to have in your bag?
My bag essentials include my compact measuring tape, camera, a Herm鑣 notepad for in-the-moment ideas, business cards and our new Ela studded mirror leather wallet that I am testing out.

- ANN BRADY

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