Friday, March 26, 2010

Exotic handbags

There’s something very inspiring about a family business. And what better example than S. C. Vizcarra, a luxury accessories brand that was established in Manila in the Philippines in1925. Their handbags are hand-woven by artisans from natural leather, wicker or abacá (a banana fibre native to the Philippines). Before frowning at a fruit-derived handbag, though, you should take a look at this beautiful selection from their Cruise Collection…




According to their website, each bag is a unique creation that takes to 2-3 days to produce. But what amazes me is that the natural leather bags are each woven from one piece of leather, making them seamless. And to top that off, all their bags are lined with silk! Here are some bags from the Classic Collection, just to show you:



The label started out with Segundina Cornejo Vizcarra, founder of the company, opening her needlework studio in Manila in 1925. Her specialty was hand-embroidery on piña, a native pineapple fibre famous for its strength despite its delicate appearance. Segundina’s daughter, Vicky Vizcarra Amalingan-Sales, continued the family tradition of producing finely crafted objects, and last year her granddaughter, Rita Nazareno, added a new product line called ZACARIAS, named for her sculptor grandfather. Read the full history at

Here’s an interview with Rita, who is in fact also an Emmy-winning producer with a Master’s degree in film and video and two Master’s degrees in design management for fashion from the London College of Fashion. She is now based in London, while her mother Vicky runs things in Manila.

Rita, you took over the label from your grandmother, the original S.C. Vizcarra. Has it been difficult to fill her shoes? What was the most important thing you learned from her?

My grandmother – Lola Gunding, as I called her – was an amazing woman filled with a great deal of compassion coupled with creativity. She came from a poor family, but had this gift for embroidery and the good fortune of having people who believed in her talent. My mother also has this compassion that I am in awe of.
It is definitely a challenge to fill my grandmother's shoes, and equally, my mother’s, whose work has helped the company evolve into what it is today. But I think they’ve taught me well and I've observed them enough to be able to pave my own way and continue the work of S.C.Vizcarra – and keep it relevant and important for years to come.

 What is your label's philosophy, and how does it apply to your products?

When my grandmother started the company in 1925, she had always espoused fine hand-workmanship and design. I remember when I was very young, I would watch these little old ladies whom my grandmother employed from the very beginning – I called them all 
lola, which means grandmother in Tagalog – intricately sewing the delicate pineapple fabric, gossiping while sewing, of course. There was such camaraderie and a family atmosphere that still goes on today. We also continue to promote and offer fine craftsmanship of hand-woven products with design that transcends trends. 

What inspires you, both in your work and as a person? 

One of the bags I designed is based on an Isa Genzken cement sculpture while another is based on the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. I really get inspired by going to exhibits and travelling.

How should one go about choosing a new S. C. Vizcarra bag? 

Our bags are finely hand-woven with some bags taking up to 7 days to make each one. They are not trend-driven and we have classic and elegant designs, while the very new ZACARIAS by S.C.Vizcarra brand pushes hand-woven bags into the modern and innovative realm – nodding to contemporary art, architecture and design. There are day bags, evening bags, varying sizes and a wide range of colours. There really is something for everyone.

How can we get in touch with you or order your products?

We do private orders and would love to hear from anyone interested. We can be reached via email at On our website you can view some of our handbag collections as well as our home accessories. 

I’m concluding today’s post with some of the exciting new bags from the ZACARIAS collection. Which ones do you like? I have to say I’m totally in love with that lime green Dorothea bag!


ZACARIAS Marsupial



  1. I am in love with these bags... the interview is pretty cool too!!!

  2. I also thought Rita said some quite interesting things. I love talking to businesswomen, and I love the idea of a family business. But I'm not so naive as to think it's always fun - after all, no-one knows you better than your family members, whether you like it or not!

  3. Oh my soul! Absolutely love these!! There are only 3 things that I am addicted to: Chocolate, Coffee, and buying accessories like shoes and handbags!! These are totally gorgeous!