Elza Wandler founded her self-titled handbag and accessories line in 2017, and it immediately emerged in the international scene as a must-have, worn by women seeking the non-it ‘it-bag’. Made in Italy and designed in Amsterdam, Wandler resonates with women seeking functional and luxurious design in fun colours, clean shapes and sculptural silhouettes. With its distinctive aesthetic and accessible luxury price point, we simply need to know more about the designer’s origins. X-Files interviews Elza Wandler in a one-on-one, read on.
Elza, can you tell us about your formative design years?
I enrolled into the fashion and branding course at Amsterdam Fashion Institute in 2009, which gave Wandler a solid foundation in finding the right balance between creative design and commerce. After completing the BA in 2012, I took up a job as designer for a leading apparel brand within its premium women's division. I learned how the merchandising, design and sales teams worked closely together. It was great for researching materials and manufacturers, so when I started Wandler I was fully prepared.
What was the most valuable lesson during that time?
I developed an interest in the other side of the business and learned that this side is as essential for running a business as developing the product. There is a lot that comes with it; branding, image-making and social media. The process doesn’t stop after you make a product.
What prompted you to design your own line of luxury entry-level bags?
I think the brand has created a maturity around itself which has a certain luxury appeal attached to it that you don’t see with many luxury bag brands. Personally, I’m not attracted to super clean, but equally I don’t gravitate towards a total Versace look. However, the mix of these two is what excites me and I don’t feel like you see that a lot in fashion today. I wanted my designs to be able to sit next to the big luxury names from an aesthetic point of view as well as the high quality and finding the right balance between design and keen price point.
Describe Wandler in three words.
How about 3 quotes instead of 3 words?
- Clear in function and shape.
- Embodying modern femininity.
- Dynamic use of colours.
What is your design approach; intuitive or measured?
What is a usual working day in Amsterdam look like?
I travel a lot. I work super close with our factories in Italy, I’m there almost every month. But shoots, press, market and inspiration trips also make my days diverse and different. Never a dull moment, that’s for sure!
What are the moving parts and process behind the brand being made in Italy? Do you find yourself there often or do all the components travel to Italy for final construction?
Wandler is committed to sincere quality. All Wandler bags and shoes are produced in Italy, in family owned factories. Their craftsmanship is super specialised and refined and the people work with each-other as a family. They all believe in Wandler and they help us grow. I’m there often and work closely together with their team to guarantee the best top notch quality.
The brand is renowned for sculptural designs and feminine touch. When and where do you find yourself most inspired?
I’m focused on creating designs that compliment a woman’s look, combining functional relevance with elegance. Trying to balance bold expressive colours versus soft hues, each bag and shoe style has its own sense of femininity inspired by their energy and personality. Colours have a very prominent role within the way I design my collection. With each collection, I try to challenge myself and play with finding an equal balance of uber-feminine and clean-androgynous. My favourite style for this season is the Hortensia in Black White Stitch because of the detailed colour contrasting stitches. What are your unique design techniques?
I’m not a person who draws on a white piece of paper. I have a very visual approach as it comes to design. I’m attracted to the sculptural nature of accessories. My process begins with folding interesting shapes from paper and crafting the starting frames with the sewing machine.
What advice do you have for emerging creatives or design talent? Would you say having a mentor is integral for a designer?
Be ready to work hard! I'm fortunate enough to have great people by my side, they've certainly helped me in some way or another. How should Australian women who may be new fans, embrace the brand?
With both arms and with a Hortensia Tan and Kombu Shades hanging on each one! I would like our Australian customers to embrace Wandler as their go to brand for investment pieces with distinctive aesthetic and high quality alongside function and convenience.
Congratulations on expanding your line to include shoes. What’s next for you?
You just need to stay tuned to find out!
Shop the Wandler edit available at Parlour X.
Photography of Elza Wandler by Lobke Leijser at The Next Chapter Agency