What would you do if you discovered what may be the oldest handbag in history? Back in February of 2014, what was thought to have been a saddlebag or wallet from 700 years ago turned out to be an intricately detailed gold and silver clutch from Northern Iraq. Estimated to have been crafted around 1300, this “masterpiece of luxury metal work” was definitely the ultimate fashion find. Reading about such a discovery triggered an idea to look even further into the history of these bags.
Even though a bag such as this one existed so far back, the clutch did not grow into popularity until after World War I where we would first start to see a drastic change in women’s apparel. As women were growing to be more independent and anti-Victorian, frills and corsets were no more. Behold the pochette, as it was first called – a handbag that was meant to stand out from the crowd. As the 1930’s progressed, the term clutch took over as did its reputation for being an accessory that symbolized glamour and extravagance.
Today, this reputation lives on and I was also thrilled to make a discovery of my very own. Thomasina is a Toronto native and the creator of Thomasina | CAMIKA handbags. What is she known for? You guessed it.
MC: What drew you specifically to clutches?
My affinity for clutch bags stems from my love for accessories. Clutches, in particular, are a simple, yet effective way to amp up any outfit. Whether I’m going for a sophisticated, funky, or minimalist vibe, I can always depend on a clutch bag to accentuate my attire and make a deliberate style statement.
TC: Do you have a signature design?
My design approach is simplistic in nature. Most of my clutch bags are ‘carry all’ clutches – large enough to fit the essentials (i.e. phone, keys and wallet), rather than having to transfer individual cards from your wallet to your clutch. There’s nothing worse than realizing after the fact that you forgot to put your bank card or driver’s license back into your wallet after downsizing to your smaller clutch bag from the night before (many of us have been there). Aside from functionality, fun fabric-combinations and colour-stories characterize the look of my clutch bags. While my clutches embrace traditional silhouettes, it’s the juxtaposition of varying hues and textures that often capture people’s attention.
MC: How did you start your first collection?
TC: To be honest, one thing just led to another, without the initial intention of starting a collection. I began sewing in 2013. I’m a self-taught artisan and have gained most of my sewing knowledge through experiential learning. After a year of dabbling in what became a hobby-business and a series of personal events, I set out in 2014 on what is now an entrepreneurial journey. Things have only just begun, but one of my favourite quotes is by Audrey Hepburn: “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”. For that reason, my inspiration for starting my collection came from a place of simply wanting to express and share my creativity, while also maintaining my happy – rather than adhering to societal norms.
MC: What are your upcoming plans for this year?
TC: In 2015, I plan to offer women vibrant options for the warmer months ahead. I don’t want to give too much way but also hope to create an offering for the male demographic. There are a lot of men out there who currently don the ‘man clutch’, and I’d like to be able to add to their fashion conscious collection.
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