Emotional Baggage Part Two – Belen Echandia

Une femme makes no secret of her love of purses, which in the last few years has developed into quite the obsession. Like a budding wine connoisseur, my tastes have become refined, and I’m now quite particular about my bags. I’ve moved away from logos and celebrity “It” bags, and back to those that have functionality and style that are a good fit for my life. As I posted a while back, I’m taking a more Goldilocks approach to my clothes and accessories, and holding out for those that are “just right.”

My new favorite handbag brand is Belen Echandia. Jackie Cawthra, the Creative Director, followed her bliss and now is creating a line of bags that’s been getting a lot of great buzz from fashion editors, exclusive retailers and especially customers. I learned about Belen Echandia bags from ladies at The Purse Forum and purchased my first B.E., the Take Me Anywhere a few months ago.
This bag is so appropriately named! It’s a big bag, but because it’s so soft, it’s comfortable to carry and doesn’t look overwhelming even for someone of my short stature. It has a shoulder strap, but the two shorter straps also fit comfortably over the shoulder. In addition to the two outside pockets, there’s a center zip compartment, slip and zip pockets to keep busy gals organized. It’s great for those days when you want to tote along a little extra, and will probably become my go-to bag for travel as well. I always get compliments on this bag.

So when I saw the new fall bags up on the website, I decided to go the next step, and contacted Jackie about customizing two of the new bags.

And here’s what makes Belen Echandia a unique and special company: the customer service. Jackie believes in the personal touch, and in providing a “bespoke experience” for her customers. She’s always responded promptly to my e-mail inquiries, and even called me personally to answer questions help me decide about colors and hardware on my special orders. The ladies at the Purse Forum concur, and are frequently singing her praises. Jackie also is adamant about quality and workmanship. She works with master leather crafters in Italy; her leathers are purchased and all of the bags are made there by hand. The result is a bag of exquisite quality and design.

My special bags arrived Friday, and I cannot contain my delight. I ordered the Charm Me in red and the Love Me in crash pewter with gold hardware (silver is standard). Here are pictures of the bag styles from the website (on the left), and my own personalized versions of the bags (on the right):

The color on this bag is just amazing.

I’ve never been hugely enthusiastic about metallics, but this bag took my breath away. It’s surprisingly not bling-y, but has a very luxe appearance.

Coco Chanel once said, “Luxury must be comfortable, otherwise it is not luxury.” Bags that are functional, comfortable, well designed and exquisitely made, combined with a level of personal service that’s on the verge of extinction in today’s world, make Belen Echandia stand out among other purveyors of luxury goods.

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  1. citizen spot
    October 8, 2007 / 2:47 am

    Oh for the love of Pete, why oh why do you not just get a back pack from REI? You can wear it on your back. Like a pack. I kid…

  2. October 8, 2007 / 11:38 am

    Oh! Pseu! These are to die for. I love the take me anywhere. What color do you have that in? The taupe/tan color looks great, versatile, etc.

    Are these bags heavy? I’ve had this problem with leather in the past. Although this may not be an issue for someone who doesn’t need to lug work stuff and baby stuff.

    I’m converting to cloth, myself. Pedestrian, I know, but it frees up the cash to spend on shoes/boots.

    And I have this insane thing for pewter this fall. I love the slightly off metallics. Bought bronze Korkease sandals this spring; now want pewter Geox or something else for fall.

    I think fashion and the web are the perfect marriage: outer and public, yet evocative of inner states. Such fun!

    I should be in the shower right now; must run.

  3. October 8, 2007 / 12:45 pm


    I believe that TMA pic is this season’s grey (I lifted it off the website); mine is from last year’s batch, just a bit darker. The bag is heavier than some, but not as heavy as others (Kooba, Marc Jacobs). Removing the shoulder strap also lightens it a bit.

  4. October 8, 2007 / 12:46 pm

    spot, I’m making up for all those years when all I could afford was a backpack from the army surplus store… 😉

  5. October 9, 2007 / 9:37 pm

    Bien Enchilada. Must remember for when I have cash. 😉

  6. October 9, 2007 / 9:48 pm

    Heh. 🙂

    Actually they have pretty good sales twice a year; the first bag I bought on sale. I’m on their e-mail list, so I’ll put up a post when their sale starts.

  7. Anonymous
    June 13, 2008 / 1:18 am

    The quality is very hit or miss…mostly miss with poor stitching, leather that peels and bleeds, color that chips or flakes off, and the pink rhinestones pop right off the Belen Echandia tags during shipping or within days of use. The no quibble return or exchange policy is all about quibbling. Anyone who tries to talk about the bad quality on the Purse Forum is chased off by a handful of rabid BE fans – what a frightful bunch! Best to find another brand that honors its own return policies.

  8. Anonymous
    October 10, 2008 / 4:39 am

    Obviously someone with an axe to grind posted before me 🙁 I hate to follow up that act!!
    Anyway…..I actually love these bags — very hip, chic, classic bags, gorgeous leather, superior quality and workmanship, the best customer service. See for yourself at http://www.belenechandia.com

  9. October 10, 2008 / 12:46 pm

    Yes, I’ve never had ANY problems with quality or workmanship…and Jackie is so lovely to deal with. I always feel bad when someone has a bad experience with something I’ve recommended, but I know there are a lot of committed BE lovers out there!

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