With many large contenders in the handbag space, from brands like Hermes, Birkin, Givenchy and Coach, it can be difficult to compete against the big players. Curious to learn what sparks innovation and outright belief to launch a venture in a crowded industry, we reached out to Andria Mitsakos to talk about her inspiration and passion, as well as how she’s staying ahead of the competition.
DESTINATION LUXURY: Where do you get your inspiration to create the designs?
Andria Mitsakos: When I lived in New York full time, it was normal for me to be in a different country every week for my PR clients, so I needed effortless pieces that could transition from a meeting in Miami to breakfast in London to drinks in Paris, sometimes with a tropical locale thrown into the mix. All of that required a carry-on as I’m a strictly a no-checked-bag policy gal when traveling on business. So when it came to designing, functionality for me is always key when creating a collection.
With my new line, Transparency, which launches for Spring/Summer 2017, I’ve created pieces that were inspired by the color palette of the never-ending holiday. Metallics in rich, bright colors, multi-textures, sun, sand, sea; those are the things that I crave. This collection is everything you could ever need for a three-day Maldives recharge-your-batteries weekend or an entire summer. I guess you know what’s on my mind!
The new, bespoke Hotel Collection was inspired by my twenty plus years in the hospitality industry handling PR/buying/sourcing/and design consulting combined with seven years of handbag design, so it was a natural transition for me. My experience has led me to develop a keen knowledge of simply ‘what works’ whether I’m in an urban setting one day or on an island the next. Now, I’ve translated that into one platform, which benefits the trade and the end consumer—the hotel guest.
I also included a sleep mask in the hotel collection as I had made a python sleep mask for myself for fun. When three flight attendants and two passengers on flight asked where I bought it, I knew I had to put it into production.
DLX: If I forgot some essentials to bring, what would be inside a signature essentials travel case? (i.e. – sleeping mask, toiletries, etc)
Andria Mitsakos: Clients of the Hotel Collection travel pouch tell me they often fill them with essentials for their VIP clients. Beautiful cosmetics in TSA-approved sizes, and a Wanderlista sleep mask.
DLX: What’s in the travel pouch?
Andria Mitsakos: The Lab Room Apricot Lip Balm, two bottles of hand sanitizer as airplane bathrooms still freak me out, a bag of raw almonds, multiple sets of earplugs, my original Morpheus Sleep Mask in coral pink python, cashmere socks, a travel-sized edition of Alice in Wonderland, some kind of protein bar, Greek mountain tea, vitamin C fizzy tablets, a seashell, an atomizer filled my own mix of lavender oil and geranium oils with rose water, and an array of Valmont products like their hand cream, their L’Elixir des Glaciers eye cream (which is like Photoshop in a jar) and Renewing Pack, which if I had to choose one product I could be stranded anywhere with it would be that, hands-down.
DLX: Will the signature line of bespoke bags look similar in style but vary in the resort destination name? (meaning the bags looks the same in the Four Seasons resort but the location name changes)
Andria Mitsakos: The Anemoi Travel Pouch, Sostis Tote and Morpheus Sleep Mask are signature to the Wanderlista Hotel Collection line. While the shapes remain the same regardless of hotel, I customize the cotton canvas and leather piping to create a bespoke product for that destination. For instance, in the case of Four Seasons Punta Mita, I developed a stonewashed brown colored canvas, which I called Sierra Madre, inspired by the color of the mountains in Mexico by the same name. For Cap Maison resort in St. Lucia, I wanted a more day-to-night look, hence the choice of the black and white. It’s chic and easy. Hotels can choose to put their logo or a subtle mark that makes their particular collection special to them, and a signature keepsake for their clients.
DLX: How does the bespoke travel bag differ from other high-end bags?
Andria Mitsakos: Other high-end bag lines have served as inspiration to me for years, even before I started designing. Vintage YSL and Gucci line my closet interiors and, while their quality have stood the test of time, I didn’t aspire to be those brands when I started in this business. I wanted to do my own thing and design a brand that reflects my identity, yet echoes old world quality and craftsmanship.
The bespoke Hotel Collection is the chic, grown up version of the logo shop bag. This is the bag you buy in the hotel boutique because it’s well designed and well made. It’s not something you buy because you need something to toss your key and water bottle in to go to the hotel gym, and then leave it behind after your vacation is over.
The DNA of the brand is very specific: Wanderlista embraces the art of travel through culture and style and each design represents the true Wanderlista Way of Life. So when you’re buying one of my designs, you’re buying a lifestyle. I want you to feel empowered, happy and free.
DLX: What makes them unique?
Andria Mitsakos: As the leading handbag line entirely made in Athens, I’m dedicated to reviving the manufacturing sector in Greece. I want Greece to be on everyone’s radar, not just for its rich history and culture, but its leading artisans as well. Every single bag is handmade with passion and pride, and it shows. This line is my identity, it’s reflective of who I am as a human being, and my Greek heritage.
Each bag comes with its own story of how it got its name. For instance, the Zefyros bag, which features my signature, collapsible top handle (patent pending), is named after the Greek wind gods who celebrated the herald of spring. The Delos bag is named after the lunar goddess Artemis, who was born on the Cycladic island of Delos.
A bit of my soul goes into every design.
DLX: What type of travelers are you attracting when designing these bags?
Andria Mitsakos: The Transparency Collection evokes the life of the core Wanderlista woman. Her ever-present juxtaposition of city and island life is finally translated into something tangible; rich architectural lines, an evocative, bright palette and intriguing textures are culminating into bags full of functionality with a strong contemporary edge. Globally aware, tolerant and imbued with a strong sense of determination, she shows her true colors, and, rather than stargazing, the Wanderlista woman enters the constellation and shines.
The Hotel Collection is artfully unisex, so those bags are perfect for hotels to give as VIP gifts. I’ve also had clients buy the set to give as a honeymoon gift: beach tote for her and dopp kit/travel pouch for him.
DLX: What makes the bespoke bags suited well for Four Seasons?
Andria Mitsakos: A traveler who chooses Four Seasons expects quality, given their choice to stay with one of the world’s leading hospitality companies. They don’t need many things since they travel quite often most likely, but they appreciate very special things, so when it comes to travel accessories, I thought how perfect to align with such a luxury customer.
For Four Seasons, I work with Maris Collective, a global lifestyle and luxury fashion destination retailer, with more than 25 boutiques in 12 luxury hotels and resorts around the world. Renowned for transforming the hospitality retail experience, their stores offer relevant, meaningful and exclusive selections for the most discerning traveler. They are such great partners; we just speak the same language. I know that my line sells to their core clientele, and we work together closely creating an exclusive collection for particular stores too.
DLX: What other hotels are going to showcase your bespoke bags?
Andria Mitsakos: In addition to Four Seasons, Cap Maison on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia has a bespoke collection, along with the private island retreat, Vomo Island in Fiji. I’m also working on a few projects in London at the moment as well with Jalin Design, experts in hospitality uniforms. More on that soon! It’s such a fun and creative project.
The brand’s Transparency Collection for Spring/Summer 2017 will make its Hawaii debut at Seaside Beach by Maris Collective at Four Seasons Hualalai, with bags that feature a nod to the “athleisure” trend with a sporty, honeycomb textile in black and white, accented with fun color pops of fluorescent yellow. Styles are perfect for gym to beach with thoughtful detailing like cross-body straps and long handle, over the shoulder looks.
At Wili Wili by Maris Collective at Four Seasons Ko Olina, chic, zip-top clutches are shown in bright metallic hues accented by bold, snake-print stripes, ideal for day to night style.
The line is also carried at Maris Collective boutiques at Four Seasons Anguilla, Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, and Four Seasons Punta Mita.
DLX: How do you ensure your products are made of the highest quality?
Andria Mitsakos: I’m involved in every step of production from sourcing textiles, overseeing printing, to choosing the leathers and hardware, much of which I design myself. It’s the bespoke design elements that make Wanderlista well, mine, and I wouldn’t put my name on something that isn’t reflective of the quality I expect. I work alongside my small team of artisans here in the center of Athens, Greece on patterns, samples and during manufacturing. You can never step away. We are creating a superior product, so every stitch counts. Whether it’s a thread color selection or discussing a new sewing technique, we have an open communication and quality control, each are imperative when selling to a savvy, international clientele.
Learn more about Andria Mitsakos handbag line here.