The Independent Handbag Designer Awards Open for Submissions

Got a handbag design that’s competition worthy?

The Independent Handbag Designer Awards, sponsored by Handbag Designer 101, have opened up submissions to a new class of aspiring designers, and will be reviewing applications until April 28th.

“Last year’s winners at the Independent Handbag Designer Awards (IHDAs) were just regular people with big dreams – that is until the IHDAs opened up a world of endless possibility that included retail partnerships with Saks 5th Avenue, feature placement in the September issue of InStyle magazine, and national recognition in a tightly controlled and competitive industry,” says the IHDA.

This years categories for the contest include:

Best Handbag in Overall Style & Design

Best Student Made Handbag

Best Handmade Handbag

Best Green Handbag

Most Socially Responsible Handbag

Audience Fan Favorite Handbag

The winner of the Best Green Handbag will receive the chance to collaborate with Timberland and Amorim Cork Composites to develop a product for sale made of cork in Timberland’s stores and a feature in the September issue of InStyle. Other sponsors of the competition include WWDMAGIC, Kenneth Cole, Saks Fifth Avenue,, Kipling, and Singer Sewing Co.

Now in its 6th year, the IHDAs has seen its winners catapult their careers and fulfill their lifelong dreams by being on the arms of shoulders of Sarah Jessica Parker, Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria and Heidi Klum. Last year’s IHDA’s exceeded expectations with over 1200 applicants and 353,000 votes on for the Audience Fan Favorite. Emily Blumenthal, author and founder of the IHDA says her group is the accessories industry’s international “first round draft pick” for handbag designers.

“Sales in the United States are $10 Billion annually and growing. Gross margins can average over 70%. This sector has one of the highest average price points per unit in their segment, low barriers to entry, a sophisticated contract-manufacturing based supply chain, and recessionary resilience likened by some analysts to the lipstick theory,” says Blumenthal.

Is the accessories sector of fashion a tough business to break into? Blumenthal says the market is extraordinarily over-saturated for the aforementioned reasons.

“One does not need to be a designer by trade in order to become a ‘handbag designer’ which is a pro and a con, depending on the budget and access to talent standpoint of the person starting out. Having said that, it has given the IHDA an advantage since innovation comes from the unknown designer whom we usually are the first ones to discover.”

Got questions? Go here to have them answered and go here to buy your tickets for the June 13th event! And as one of the judges for the awards, I hope to see your work or you soon!

Here are some of the Best Green handbag winners and finalists from past seasons:

Adrienne Rabelo

Jess Rizzuti

Mei Vintage

Stella Vittorio


The Sway

Amy DuFault

Amy DuFault is a conscious lifestyle writer, consultant and fashion instigator. She resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.