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Cult London bags and accessories label, Ally Capellino, while maintaining its under-the-radar cool, has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2000. Stocked at leading department stores and boutiques around the world, and with a flagship store in edgy East London spot, Shoreditch, Ally Capellino wares have carved out a niche for classic, wearable and finely constructed bags for discerning men and women. The designer behind her eponymous label, Ally Capellino, talks with about humble beginnings, classic designs and keeping things fresh.

How did you begin your bags and accessories label?

Ally Capellino: It was in about 2000. My clothing line with my ex-partner had folded the year before. I was doing some nice consultancy work, but I was a bit bored it didn’t keep me busy enough. I had a bit of leather and made a bag on the kitchen table. It got a good response and after that it was a bit like the elves and the shoemaker – there was another bag every night.

Do you have signature or classic Ally Capellino designs - or do you create new bags each season?

Ally Capellino: We do both, gradually we have built up a selection of classics that that people keep coming back for. Our waxed cotton group all have names and are close members of the family, ‘Frank’ and ‘Jeremy’ being our best sellers at the moment. However each season we look at things from a slightly different angle, and introduce new styles and colours or materials to keep things fresh.

How would you describe your style, and what is your design philosophy?

Ally Capellino: Practical, tactile, unstructured, casual, wearable and classic. I like to be inspired by the leathers or fabrics that I find, rather than design something and then try to apply it to a material. I like to use naturally finished leathers, which age and relax with use. Longevity is a natural bonus of our bags.

Do you have a type of person in mind when designing - or do you feel your items are for everyone?

Ally Capellino: There is a large proportion of what we do that is unisex, I love the bags to have a wide appeal and I get a thrill from seeing them worn by such a diverse range of customers.

Fine craftsmanship and quality seem inherent to your brand - can you tell us how you go about creating your product?

Ally Capellino:
Well all the designs start off somewhere in my head and then gradually get bounced around and knocked into shape in our studio in Shoreditch. We make in many different places, the more expensive leather pieces in London and the canvas styles mostly in China. I love traditional methods and details of making and try and keep the levels of craftsmanship to original standards - the fabrics and leathers are meant to last.

What exciting things are on the horizon for Ally Capellino?

Ally Capellino: A couple of things… Our products for Apple laptops, which we started to sell on line through Applestore, are going really well and we have just introduced new styles. I went to Nairobi with MADE, the fair-trade jewellery company, and produced a little collection of bags made from leathers sourced from local tanneries and with hand cast aluminium handles, manufactured in Nairobi by local artisans.

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