Van Der Spek La Grande custom tote in black and dark brown Janet Leather. I am in love!

When I first met Petra Van Der Spek, she had her own lovely handbag and wallet range called BagUs. These leather goods were produced abroad and were not customisable. I have a keyring made from one of their leather tags, and it is made of absolutely fantastic leather.

Sadly, once VDS planner sales shot through the roof, Petra moved to working with planner production instead. She did, however, always want to add bags to the custom product range. These were the samples from 2019.

Last week, Van Der Spek added custom made handbags to their range. They can be found on the website here, and there is a dedicated Facebook page here.

At the moment there is a choice of three sizes of open-top totes with different strap lengths and a small pouch. You can choose your body, strap, pouch and trim leather using the VDS webtool. You can order a bag to match your favourite planner!

I was incredibly lucky to have been sent the large (La Grande) size sample to review. It is in pebbly black Janet leather with dark brown Janet Leather trim and black lining.

For me, it is important to have a bag that will stand up to the elements and not be affected by rain or snow. I also wear a lot of black, so light-coloured bags are not really for everyday wear.

Janet leather is always spectacular. I fell in love with it because it reminded me so much of Mulberry Darwin leather, and this bag just confirms it for me. It is top quality and will wear brilliantly. It is also firm enough to stand up on its own. I cannot express how much I love this bag.

The straps are 32cm, and the perfect width to not slip or dig into my shoulder. The bag itself is around 900g/1.2lbs which is not heavy for this quality leather. It is also probably the heaviest leather that VDS uses.
The pouch is detachable but I am using it for my pens, which I always lose at the bottom of my bag.
The bag can be converted from a north-south tote to a more trapeze shape by means of the internal poppers.
Internal trip and large internal pocket. I like the two-pocket system as I keep my travel card in one and till slips in the other
The addition of feet to a bag is always good. This keeps the bottom away from wet or dirty floors, though I am always careful where I put my bags down. I am a bit squeamish about dirt.
There is no zipper option yet, but the internal poppers close the top
The bag has two sets of press-stud poppers at each end, and one larger magnet popper in the middle

I wanted a bag that I could use to carry my papers and laptop, even though I try not to carry too much these days. I also wanted a bag I could use for travelling. That is why I chose a larger size than I have been using lately. It is not heavy on my shoulder at all.

If you do decide to order a bag, I would recommend choosing a hardier leather, and waterproofing it if you are able. I am going to use a waterproofing agent on a small part of my bag to see how it goes.

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

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