Every so often, I come across handbag brands whose aesthetics match my own: minimal, modern, an emphasis on utility, a touch of edge, and with an appreciation for quality and craft. When I first discovered Seattle-based Ampersand As Apostrophe, it was love at first sight.
Part rustic, part luxury, Ampersand As Apostrophe uses form and function to create clean, minimalist leather accessories. Words that come to mind when admiring these US-born designer handbags: architecturally inspired, attention to detail, raw, luxurious, modern, understated, and minimalism.
According to designer and founder Jessica Park, who graduated from Architecture School with a major in Interior Design, Ampersand As Apostrophe’s brand and aesthetic was born from need.
In 2010, Park went shopping in New York with $800 for a new handbag. She wanted a simple tote, with clean lines and a sophisticated structure, but nothing too stuffy or run-of-the-mill. She needed it to fit and flatter her petite 5’0″ body type, and she wasn’t willing to spend thousands on a luxury brand. $800 doesn’t get you very far in the realm of luxury totes; a Louis Vuitton Neverfull is $1320, a Saint Laurent tote is $995, and a Goyard St. Louis PM Tote is $1560.
Like many of us in our handbag journeys, she found nothing that she wanted. On the plane ride home to Seattle, she started to sketch what would become the first Ampersand As Apostrophe bag. She took the sketch and a 100-year-old mailbag that had been sitting in the trunk of her car for months to a sewing shop in Ballard.
The flagship Ampersand As Apostrophe design she came up with is the ultimate take-it-anywhere bag: a classic leather Sideways Tote and Half Tote inspired by a paper grocery bag with luxurious leather, sturdy flat top handles, raw edge top seams, and a winged tote style. And, of course, it’s beautiful.
Ampersand As Apostrophe pieces look, feel, and smell luxurious. Besides the sleek, minimal design, the leather is what gets my attention: there’s classic black, but there’s also a wide variety of rich custom-designed colors like neon yellow, camo, and a super dreamy space metallic. Each Ampersand As Apostrophe piece is stamped with small gold stamped logo, never straying away from their minimalist hearts. Because each piece is crafted using American leather hides and custom-designed colors, pricing for items vary based on leather and size, ranging from $269 to $682, which reminds me of Hermes-style rarity and exclusivity.
Plus, their name is incredible. As a designer and writer, I love anything involving typography, punctuation, or glyphs. Ampersand As Apostrophe, read aloud, are three commonly recognized symbols spelled out: an ampersand (&) is used as a symbol of “in addition“, as is commonly “equal to“, and an apostrophe (‘) signifies “multiples of“. Each symbol is a method of transformation in language. By spelling out the symbols we use as words, the recognized suddenly becomes an oddly intriguing phrase, and a great name for a luxury brand.
When Ampersand As Apostrophe designer and founder Jessica Park was recently interviewed by Time, she discussed the difficulties many of us face in business: no one took her seriously because she was a woman. So, she did what she had to do: she made up a male boss.
I was 26 years old when I entered the cutthroat world of fashion and manufacturing. The men who owned and managed the factories where I eventually started producing my bags didn’t always take me seriously. “They won’t listen to me. They don’t believe I’m the boss, and they think there has to be a man running the company,” I remember telling my dad. “So, invent him,” my father replied bluntly. And so I did. When problems arose at the factories, as they always do, I’d tell them that I was going to call my “boss” and that “he won’t be happy about this.”
At the end of 2016, Ampersand as Apostrophe moved their Seattle-based studio to the fashion capital of the U.S., New York City. They’ve expanded to other carry-everywhere styles like a Convertible Backpack Tote, O.G. Duffle, Right Angle Clutch, and a wide assortment of small leather goods. Today, Ampersand As Apostrophe is available in boutiques around the world, with showrooms in Los Angeles and Manhattan.
Ampersand As Apostrophe now employs a small group of driven women who are looking forward to the future growth of this high-end handbag brand. And so am I.
Ampersand As Apostrophe Eye Candy
Ampersand As Apostrophe O.G. Duffle Bag
I am obsessed with that hexagon button snap. swoon.
Ampersand As Apostrophe Right Angle Clutch and Card Holders
The Right Angle Clutch is an homage to Jessica Park’s architectural design background. With its use of clean lines and unconventional materials, it creates an unexpected, head-turning design that’s both art and fashion.
Ampersand As Apostrophe Parcel Convertible Shoulder Bag
Ampersand As Apostrophe Half Tote & X Pouch in Camo Cantaloupe
What do you think of Ampersand As Apostrophe? Let me know in the comments.
ALL PHOTOGRAPHY COPYRIGHT © 2018 AMPERSAND AS APOSTROPHE