Beat the slump in travel with handcrafted trinkets

Written by Guest Writer

Historic craftsmanship is making a big comeback as the travel industry uses the art to connect with today’s trendsetters, no longer just in flash-in-the-pan “fantasy” destinations.

The Celebrity ‘Added Luxury’ program which uses handcrafted handbags, apparel and accessories from the fashion houses of Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Gucci, Prada, Valentino, Missoni and more are worn by celebrities such as Michelle Obama, Emma Watson, Prince Harry and Queen Rania of Jordan. The program draws inspiration from author Doris Lessing , who once said that “luxury, in very simple terms, is the meaning and use of craftsmanship in making the most beautiful things.”

The name “added luxury” was born when Madeleine Becken, the founding partner of wellness and lifestyle brand Sugar, wanted to create a modern movement of luxury for her brand. The food, made with sugar cane from the Southern U.S. and ex-European uses, like broccoli and dandelion greens, in Sugar so much appealed to her, that she felt it was time to take a different approach to beauty and fashion. Becken said at the time, “We’re not trying to convince people to wear our products as accessories. I don’t want to force this on people… when someone chooses to wear a product we want to go above and beyond to make it as beautiful, if not more beautiful, than anything else.”

Becken’s idea is to use genuine, quality handcrafted products when fashion was often perceived as simply knock-offs of luxury brands. But luxury craftsmanship and craftsmanship has been the norm in Europe, who invented the word and its structure in the 16th century.

In the 20th century, American designers, such as Coco Chanel and Max Factor, also gave their spin to luxury, bringing in tools from Europe to utilize and to follow traditions.

Since 2000, the industry has followed this approach with its travel-themed collections. While travelers can find mass-produced products shipped to their home that are already mass-produced, bespoke, handcrafted items actually come from tiny handcrafted workshops in Europe. Handbags, shoes, garments and accessories are made with rare precious materials, such as beeswax, embroidery, leather crafting and hand-drawn design.

There are schools of hand craftsmanship in Italy, France, Spain, Belgium, Japan, India, South Korea, China and Italy. Recently, Italian designers started to collaborate with fashion houses, such as Livia Firth’s “Hand for Design” school that focused on that “Yummy Mummy” trend.

Designer Neema Johndrow, who has worked in her hometown of Bologna, Italy, started a movement of “custom handmade” handbag, accessories and jewelry with Italian gems. Fans include young royals from the British Royal Family, A-listers, First Ladies, and this year, even movie stars at home and abroad.

The most seductive woman today, according to Becken, is not a woman who looks like they have their life all together, but they are “strong, mysterious, glamorous and complex, being at the center of a deeply interconnected network of a lot of people.”

The Hermes a woman can be a “handbag icon with an aura of mystery, power and intelligence.”

This year the Italian brand was included in H&M’s sustainable clothing line, Sustain, designed by Kylie Minogue, who has said: “I was invited by the company to collaborate with them on a range of accessories. You could call them spectacular pieces, very delicate and elegant but at the same time luxurious and expensive… Whatever you want to wear in the season, the stores sell them all. You could wear them like sandals, you could wear them like big earrings and they match everything.”

Becken believes travelers don’t need to have an expensive lifestyle to wear this authenticity.

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