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Boho Chic Bags

Go global with these logo-free handbags.

smitten-clutch-uganda-han
East Meets West: Made in India. Available at Johnny Was/Fashion Island, $78.

I’ve been logo-free for years now. But at one time they meant a lot to me. It happened before my “it” bag became so popular. I was 16 years old, naive and needy. He seduced me with his irresistible dark caramel skin. With him on my arm I became the girl with the bob and “the” handbag. I could go anywhere. He made me look better. He made me feel I belong.

I had known all along that I wasn’t the only one. He started showing up on the arms of strangers. There were secretaries, moms, executives, and even my manicurist. There was nothing I could do. The harder I hung on to him the less indiscriminate he became. Then one day I saw him on the arm of my best friend. He’d got to her, too. That night I threw him out. I never let him into my life again.

Addictions are not erased; only replaced. I replaced him immediately. There was a long line of names. It’s all a blur to me now, but I had to have them all. They were dark, rich and handsome. Their names and logos meant nothing to me. They gave me a temporary fix. Each one satisfied my insatiable appetite for the newest.

But I hated myself for being so weak. No one can tell you to stop. You have to do it when it feels right. I remember when it happened. I was sitting at the Pacific Whey Café on a bright Sunday morning. As I was sipping my coffee, I watched as a series of statement handbags flashed past me. They were all with women like me. Women that needed someone on their arm, a name to hold onto. At that moment, I knew I didn’t want to be like them anymore.

I’ve now moved on and made a fresh start. I’ve changed my perspective and expanded my horizons. I took a sabbatical and traveled the world. And  when I least expected it, I met someone new. His bohemian vibe means he can fit in anywhere and his foreign accent makes all my friends wonder where he’s from. It’s fun to learn about his culture.

Although no one recognizes him, he’s refreshingly low-key, eclectic and unpretentious. His colorful personality makes him a delight to be around. And just when I think I’ve figured him out, I see a different facet in him.

My new boho-boyfriend brings out the best in me. I’ve always been unconventional, and since he’s a hippie at heart, he understands I hate to be “matchy matchy.” I’m glad I broke the mold and decided to live my life according to my own taste. I now prefer to lead rather than follow. I no longer need to carry someone else’s name to feel important. I don’t know what the future holds for us, but I’m taking things slowly. I’ll let you in on my little secret and tell you his name, but it’s the early stages of our relationship and I don’t want to jinx it, so please don’t tell everyone.

Smitten to Bits
Inspired by a trip to Uganda, Kallie Dovel came back home and decided to create an opportunity for the women she met on her trip. Along with the support of four of her friends, the Newport Beach-based company, 31 Bits, now works with 108 women in Northern Uganda and helps them rise above poverty by purchasing jewelry from them on a monthly basis. All the jewelry and accessories are created from handmade beads made from recycled paper. Leather and bead handmade clutch. Made in Uganda. Available at Love & Whiskey/Irvine, $159.

Colombian Style
My favorite Colombian fashion and accessory designer, Silvia Tcherassi, has always been ahead of her game. Her unique mochila handbags are hand-woven by the indigenous Wayuu women in La Guajira, Colombia. It takes around 20 days for a woman to weave a mochila, and then, at Tcherassi’s atelier in Colombia, her team transforms them by adding Swarovski Elements and other embellishments. There’s no need to travel to Colombia (or South Florida) to buy one, as her accessory collection is now available for purchase online. Made in Colombia. Available at silviatcherassi.com, $1300.

East Meets West
Always with a vintage aesthetic in mind, the L.A.-based company Johnny Was is the quintessential boho brand. Its collection of handbags are created from one-of-a-kind vintage fabrics inspired from the streets of Paris and the beauty of Morocco and born in the exotic world of India. A patchwork of mirrored fabrics is sewn together with colorful contrasting seams, completed with a tassel and pom-pom, making this eclectic zippered clutch a great conversation starter. Made in India. Available at Johnny Was/Fashion Island, $78.


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