Tips for designing a Van Der Spek bag

I am not interested in shoes but I have love bags since I was about five years old.

I have two custom handbags. Above is my Van Der Spek La Grande (Large) in dark brown and black Janet Leather.

Below is my beloved Fiona Ho bag in black ostrich leather which must be about 18 years old now. This one was completely custom designed by myself, while Van Der Spek allows custom leather and strap options for their basic range of three totes.

Some tips I can offer would be:


  • Some garments (for example dark jeans) can transfer colour onto your light-coloured handbag, and vice versa. So remember to either test your leather via a sample swatch first, or avoid light bags if you wear dark clothes and vice versa.


  • Some leathers can wear due to rubbing on your clothes Suede, for example, can go ‘bald’ and sometimes even a suede brush won’t work to fluff it up again.
  • Rain can irreversably stain leather so make sure your leather is weatherproof or able to be waterproofed. For this reason I would not recommend undyed leather or regular Janet leather for a bag. If you really would like one in these leathers, order a sample swatch and test it.


  • The larger the bag, the heavier it will be. Some leathers are also heavier than others. For example, Janet leather will be heavier than Touch Me leather

Size and depth

  • use a tape measure to measure the dimensions of your favourite bag, and use that as a guide for your Van Der Spek bag. The one thing I have learned about myself over the years is that, no matter how much I have wanted to change style over the years, I am who I am. I always go back to my favourite style of bag and clothing. I really enjoy totes and black leather.

I am in Sweden and I have Van Der Spek leather swatches available for anyone in Sweden to look at, feel, and we can even splash some water on a small part to test durability.

Author: Janet Carr

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

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