well designed, well made
As consumers, we live in a world in which novelty at bargain prices has taken reign. Factories around the world work night and day to churn out hastily designed products that are poorly made using cheap materials. These products only last a few seasons at best, only to end up heaped into a landfill. We then buy a new round of substandard goods and the cycle starts again. In addition to damaging the environment and wasting resources, tragically we no longer have the opportunity to really grow to cherish the objects we own.
At Maria Castelli, we believe in doing things differently. Our handbags are thoughtfully designed and carefully made so that they last for years. We are committed to creating handbags with integrity, so that their owners can form a personal relationship.
Our design approach is grounded in our training as architects and draws on the philosophy that function, form, materials, and construction are fully integrated.
Although our designs are characterized by a simple aesthetic, they are not minimalistic. Rather, they are conceived to support the needs of women living full lives, while going beyond fashion trends. With each of our styles, we aim to fulfill a different need a woman might have – an elegant but unstuffy work bag, a polished backpack that holds a laptop, a chic tote that can double as a gym bag – and every single design detail within that bag, including the form, materials, and construction, is designed to support that given function.
We are not only the designers, we are also the makers. We spend long days at our workshop, making and modifying prototypes, certain that this hands-on, iterative process will carry us to the depth of our creative flow. Knowing how to work with leather (cutting, skiving, sewing) and having an intimate familiarity with the materials we use gives us the freedom to be truly creative. Working on a bag from the initial kernel of an idea all the way through production, we are able to achieve a final product that is fully consistent with the overall design concept down to the last stitch.
We believe in striving for excellence, and the dedication and patience we put into making each and every handbag reflects that principle.
Things are only as good as the materials used to make them. For that reason, we hand-pick everything – each piece of leather, suede, cord, and hardware – we use to make our products. All of our handbags and accessories are made of 100% genuine, top grain leather from Italy and France. To add texture or color, we often incorporate luxurious skins, like cavallino from Spain or shearling from Turkey.
We also take great pride in our craftsmanship. All of our products are crafted one by one in a small New York City workshop. We carefully assemble each bag to showcase the natural features of each skin. We also incorporate hand-finished details, as they add to the richness of our bags. Once an item has been completed, we meticulously examine it to ensure that our uncompromising dedication to quality has been met.
Echoing the old adage, you are what you consume. We offer an alternative to most products on the market today, giving women the opportunity to own handbags that are well designed and well made so that they last a lifetime. This provides the foundation for you to develop personal relationship with her bag. Our hope is that, after years of use, your Maria Castelli bag will be such a fundamental part of your life, you won’t want to stop wearing it.
A MOTHER-DAUGHTER TEAM
Maria and Veronica are the mother-daughter duo behind Maria Castelli. The two have been creative teammates since Veronica’s childhood—together giving life to puppets, pillows, and jewelry. When Maria was younger than Veronica is now, she had her own handbag business in Buenos Aires. Now that Veronica is an established designer, the two have joined forces once again.
Maria is a native of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she was trained as an architect. After travelling around the world with nothing but a backpack, she came to the States to study on a Fulbright, obtaining a Master’s and Doctorate degree. For many years, Maria combined an academic career with consultant work for international organizations like the World Bank and UN Habitat. Wanting to return to her creative roots, Maria studied handbag-making in Buenos Aires and at the London College of Fashion.
Veronica grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. She studied architecture at Cornell and interior design in Milan. Over the years, Veronica has taken many courses in fashion and styling and was a fashion columnist for her college newspaper. After working in architecture firms in Milan and New York City for several years, Veronica has decided to pursue her true passions: fashion and accessories. She recently completed an MBA at the MIT Sloan School of Management to help make Maria Castelli an awesome business.