Have you ever thought about designing your own travel handbag or tote?

Probably not, because it’s a difficult concept to imagine.

But thanks to Pop Bag USA, you can custom-create the leather travel bag of your dreams, in a matter of minutes.

It takes flying first-class to a whole new level. Who doesn’t love make-your-own designer accessories?

Just snap it together, and you can custom design and create your ultimate travel tote or handbag,

Pop Bag is located in Italy, with its factory located in Florence.  Last year it opened a location in the States, in New York at the Time Warner Building in the Shops at Columbus Circle.  Go up to the second floor and you’ll find a jewel of a little shop that’s overflowing with gorgeous Italian leathers, in a rainbow of colors, and in a wealth of styles – from faux crocodile to pebbled leather, to the Saffiano that top designers use in their handbag creations. (Saffiano leather was first made in one of Italy's most famous tanneries and was a signature and patent of Prada.) These are upscale accessories that are similar to the world-renowned designer brands found in some of the globe’s poshest areas – from Fifth Avenue to Rodeo Drive. 

But here’s the kicker.

You don’t buy a completed, finished purse or tote.

You simply decide what size bag you want, pick out its front and back leather panels – and the whole thing snaps together instantly.  Voila!  In mere seconds, you have custom created a sturdy bag that is ideally suited to your travel needs, in small, medium, or large – and even, if you want, with a smaller custom bag, envelope clutch or cosmetic bag inside. These are personalized purses and totes to the nth degree.

The signature snap-design leather panels let you custom create purses and totes for global travels.

What’s great about the bags is the versatility that they offer. The luxe leather panels fold up easily in your suitcase, so that you can create different looks with a wide variety of leather panels that easily assemble when you are on the road. Why bring numerous handbags when you can stash just two more small panels in your suitcase and mix and match?  For example, say, for spring in Paris, you opt for the pink crocodile-embossed front panel, with a white pebbled-leather back panel, and two white leather straps.  In Capri in summer, simply remove the white back panel and replace it with another pink croco-effect back panel – for a bag that’s all one color.  In fall and winter, on the East Coast, or Aspen, all it takes is, say, a chocolate brown front panel to complement the white back panel and straps, and you can coordinate to your heart’s content. This way, you have the bag of your dreams, any time you want, for your travels any time of year.

The New York store is co-owned by two women, Kamie Lightburn and Marcia Dunn, M.D. (Ms. Lightburn is current chairman of the FIT Couture Council Board, and Dr. Dunn is a board-certified opthamologist.)  They discovered the brand on a trip to Italy and realized its enormous potential for women to express their imagination, and their own design inspirations.  “The concept is huge in Italy and in Japan,” says Ms. Weisfeld.  “Instead of build-a-bear, it’s build-a-bag, and in your suitcase, the panels take up as much space as a pair of jeans.”  She says that Ms. Lightburn and Ms. Dunn wanted a business that was fun – wildly fun --  and also one that encourages women to consume less for the benefit of the planet.  It’s the ultimate in sustainability.  As Ms. Weisfeld explains, “Rather than buy an entirely new handbag, you just have to buy another panel. Or another handle.”

For travel, she says that the large totes are the perfect laptop bag, as well as an ideal carry-on bag for your essentials at 35,000 feet. “There’s nothing else like them on the market,” she says. “They assemble in an instant.” You can purchase the panels in person or on the Internet.

She says with a laugh, “The Pop Bags offer endless variety.  In fact, the biggest challenge is committing to what you’ll take home with you.”

Voila! In mere minutes you can assemble your bespoke Italian leather bag for travel.

The price is also nice – and unlike a status-symbol brand, which may cost thousands and thousands of dollars (Can you say Hermes Birkin bag?) you won’t have to worry about someone stealing your bag for its cachet.  Large investment-quality panels in leather are priced $95-$130 while straps are about $30 a pair. A small purse will set you back just $95, while a large tote is typically priced around $350.

They’re your passport to perfect, easy, stylish travels. You may still get jet lag  -- but you won’t get jet lug©.

Debbi Kickham

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