High-End in Ho Chi Minh; anupa Handbags and Clutches

Anupa Horvil is a woman on the move.  The entire time we’re talking at her boutique in District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, she’s arranging her line of eco-friendly handbags and clutches in various displays.  She wants the bags to be seen in their best light, but here’s a secret- there’s no light in which they wouldn’t look amazing.

When I first stumbled upon her flagship boutique, anupa, it was a slate-grey clutch that drew me inside.  It was simple and classic, with a large circle of beadwork decorating the front.  More pieces, ranging in size from billfolds to weekenders, dotted the shelves in white, brown, and black leather.  What I loved the most is that they were different from the knock-off and overly-designed options found in every market in HCMC.

Today we’re at her second location, a ten minute walk from the first, and she’s explaining the history and philosophy behind her work.  The hand-beaded circle is on every bag but always in slightly different colors and patterns so that each one is unique.  Horvil makes sure to include tourmaline beads in the mix as part of her signature and to provide protection for the wearer.

“The original idea was to have a brand where you don’t stamp a brand on it.  I wanted to keep it discreet,” she says.

Horvil has put a lot of thought into construction details consumers may not notice.  The beading is done with nylon thread instead of cotton which can snap easier.  The leather, while soft and supple, is durable shoe leather.  Any hardware is nickel-free.  This is all done so that the bags will be long-term wardrobe investments.

While she has big plans for her brand, Horvil’s end goal is not to be in every store in every city in the world.  The line, which ranges from $180-600 USD, is sold at the two anupa stores plus a few boutiques in Vietnam as well as in select stores in Australia, Oman, Malaysia, Singapore, Poland and the U.S.  It’s all part of Horvil’s plan to keep her bags as one-of-a-kind as her customers.

“They’re not mass produced,” she says. “For me, luxury is about having something exclusive.”