Photos of Griesbach bags cannot capture their character. There is the faint aroma of leather that conjures images of childhood visits to the shoe shop. Their alluring softness--whether in nubuck or calf--reveals itself only to the touch. Inside, a discreet, embossed label reads: 'real leather; handmade in Switzerland'. When carried, their sophisticated cuts become one with their owner.
Griesbachs are conceived in a pretty brick warehouse, part of the Gelatine Areal in a leafy suburb of Winterthur. Peeping in through huge windows, you can see them displayed temptingly on hangers. They seem to whisper, "hold me; love me." Long black and white curtains separate them from rails of belts (also made by the label), an office stacked high with ring binders, and the design space.
When I arrive, sisters Katka and Zuzka Griesbach begin sweeping open magazines and sheets of paper (covered in precise pencil designs) to one end of the grand wooden table that constitutes the atelier's centrepiece. "You're not taking photographs, are you?" asks Katka, brushing a lemony curl of hair from her face and glancing down at the baggy hoody that swamps her frame.
"We are working on the summer 2013 collection," explains Zuzka, who at 39 years is the elder of the sisters by two years. Both are wearing glasses similar to Ray-Ban Wayfarers[R]; they frequently glance at each other and finish each other's sentences. They complement one another in a design capacity, too. Zuzka is the 'pencil and paper' artist, whereas Katka likes to work with materials. These are traits that have helped them create a range of bags to meet customers' requirements.
Each collection, which contains around twenty different bags and belts for both men and women, emerges based on a set of criteria. "We look at the needs of different people, for example, those who have families or go to work," explains Zuzka. "The bag must be the right size and be functional." Available in styles from the tote to the clutch and the weekender, these are bags that can take you from work to play or to the beach.
"A bag must fit a person's shape, too," adds Katka thoughtfully. She shakes her head in disapproval at bags that stick out too far from a person's body, or have a strap too wide for the shoulder. "It must be ergonomic."
Legacy of a sofa
Although cotton and denim have appeared in...