A woman's bag is her best friend; it holds every object she needs on a daily basis and it goes absolutely everywhere with her. When it comes to a handbag, every detail is important, and quality is a must. A good handbag is an investment, and whether it's a carry-all tote or a statement piece of arm-candy, reliability is an essential handbag must-have feature.
Aesthetics are a priority too, but good quality bags stand the test of time, and it's something that Amanda Verardo could talk for hours about. She's the founder of Amici Collective, an advocate of ethical leather goods and a lover of luxury investment pieces.
Amanda's intent is simple; to design quality and ethical leather bags that bridge the gap between fashion and function. She weaves effortless style into each handmade Amici Collective bag, and as an avid bag-lover herself, Amanda knows more than most how much a balance of versatility, practicality and elegance play in the perfect bag design...
Why are you so passionate about ethical fashion?
I’m passionate about ethical fashion because I believe that profit should not come at the expense of people, or the environment. To me, true business success comes from creating value that benefits everyone. If we want to change the mindset and practices of an entire industry, it requires collective action and we all need to play our part.
Why do you think sustainability is important in the fashion industry?
It’s horrifying to me that the fashion industry is one of the leading polluters in the world. Collectively we have a responsibility to take action and drive meaningful change so that future generations can experience the same joy from the natural world as we have. Making the transition to sustainable practices (across all industries) is the only way to stop further deterioration of our environment. It's an enormous challenge, but I believe that every step taken towards sustainable practices today (even if it feels small) will make a difference in the future. I'm committed to doing what I can to operate more sustainably and have made the shift to plastic-free packaging and shipping materials.
I’m also passionate about supporting homegrown, slow fashion. As a newcomer to the fashion industry, it was eye-opening to learn that nearly 90% of the fashion we buy is made offshore. In an industry that has become increasingly driven by speed, volume and low prices, I’m proud to have a business model that supports other Australian businesses and values the craft and people behind the product. My manufacturers are a husband and wife team who have worked out of their Sydney studio making leather goods for 30 years. They are masters at their craft and wonderful people who treat their customers like family. I’ve learned from their experience, and without them, Amici Collective wouldn’t exist. It’s businesses like theirs that have been hurt by the shift to fast fashion, and without positive change, we may lose this irreplaceable part of our local industry.
What inspires you?
Travel is my passion, and I’m all about making the most of every experience! For me, that comes through truly immersing myself in a new place; exploring like a local, getting lost in the backstreets, and feeling the heartbeat of a place. Over time I’ve learned that accessories matter and the wrong ones can break your experience.
After years of having to make a choice between practical travel bags that come with a tourist look, or fashion bags that allow me to feel like myself but offer little in the way of functionality, I created Amici Collective to do both. I wanted to create a brand that would give women a sense of confidence and effortless style, so they feel free to experience the world in their own way.
With every purchase made through Amici Collective, we donate $1 to WaterAid Australia too.
Why is WaterAid Australia an important cause to you?
My experiences have shaped my belief that travel is a privilege, one that is out of reach for many people, which is the driver behind my decision to give back to communities in need.
Access to safe drinking water is a cause that I feel passionately about after seeing the health impacts, social problems and economic disadvantages facing communities without access to this basic need throughout my travels in Africa. Often the responsibility of collecting water falls to young girls, causing them to miss school, and putting them in danger as they walk long distances to collection points. Providing access to safe drinking water and sanitation is directly linked to the education and empowerment of young girls around the world; this is something that I want to put my support behind.
WaterAid’s mission is to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere, within a generation. Donating $1 per purchase may seem insignificant against the scale of the challenge, but in a world where 30% of people live on just $1 a day, every dollar counts.
Every Amici Collective bag has a purposeful design. How do you approach designing your luxury bags with sustainability and functionality in mind?
When designing Amici Collective bags, functionality comes first. I think about how people travel, the essentials they typically need to carry and consider aspects like ease of use, organisation and security, and then I design each piece to create a more effortless experience. If a feature doesn’t have a purpose, it doesn’t make the cut.
Our packaging also plays a huge role in purposeful design. I wanted our packaging to have a purpose beyond its role in protecting each leather bag. Our signature dust covers can be repurposed as shopping totes, garment bags, and accessories pouches; they can be washed and used over and over again, at home or when travelling the world.
When it comes to sustainable design, for me this comes down to delivering high quality, timeless products. In the design phase, all materials are carefully selected and extensively tested, then each bag is crafted by hand for a luxe finish that will stand the test of time. Like a good wine, leather gets better with age, so with the proper care, our pieces can be loved from season to season.
Our small-batch, handmade production process also minimises waste of raw materials. We produce in very small quantities, our hardware items are custom made to order on an as needs basis, and leather offcuts are repurposed as trim for pockets and zips.
The Fashion Advocate x