Mary Lai's collection of locally made handbags are the kind of handbags that will hold all of your daily essentials, and look fantastic while doing so. Known for merging high quality luxury with a youthful and modern edge, her leather handbags are a reflection of her personal style preference as a young woman working in NYC.
With a passion for all forms of art, Mary is a seasoned entrepreneur and designer who focuses on simplicity and function as the main inspiration behind the brand's timeless handbags. With a clear vision for what she wanted to achieve, Mary eventually decided to strike out on her own after honing her craft with a few prominent brands:
"For the past ten years after art school [Mason Gross School of the Arts], I have been designing in the New York Fashion Industry for many brands. It was a great learning experience and at the end of 2012, I finally decided it was a good time to try out my own thing. This has always been a dream and goal of mine and I finally felt ready."
Since the beginning, the industry has been taking notice of her unmistakable aesthetic and dedication to the craft. Mary's innovative line has been awarded with the Independent Handbag Designer Award in June 2013 and the American Express OPEN Rising Stars of Fashion Award in August 2013 at WWD Magic Market Week. With an eye for what the stylish and city-savvy woman seeks in an investment piece, Mary uses durable and supple leather to construct bags that will withstand everyday wear and are versatile from day to night. Each bag is thoughtfully imbued with an understated elegance that speaks for itself.
"I design for the woman that exudes confidence and power - she knows what she wants and goes for it. However, with all this strength she still remains balanced and challenges herself to always better things in her life and for the world around her."
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IN THE STUDIO WITH MARY LAI: THE MAKING OF THE EXCLUSIVE BELMONT BAG
We spent an afternoon in Mary Lai's studio across the river in Jersey City. We watched and learned as Mary cut, hammered, and constructed the beautiful Belmont bucket bag she designed exclusively for Young & Able. As she quickly and expertly put together each element with her hands, we could see the passion and skill for leather-working Mary has accrued throughout her years in the industry.
Like all of her handbags, this one is handcrafted with supple leather with a few variations on color and texture (this bag features embossed leather and a unique color block look). A bit of departure from her signature line of satchels, the bag is still just as beautiful and functional, but re-envisioned for Young & Able.
With a heart for craftsmanship, we can see she is well on her way to becoming an infallible force in the fashion world. Inspired by a longstanding partnership with a master leather craftsmen in NYC, Mary hopes to teach and pass on the invaluable skills that she has learned in hopes of supporting the young generation of designers.
So go ahead, and take a look into the world of Mary Lai.