An Interview With Aspinal Of London

A quintessentially British brand that perfectly merges trend and tradition, Aspinal of London provide out favourite accessories to carry from day-to-night. Seen on the arm of everyone from Kate Middleton to Taylor Swift, their designs combine beloved shapes with stylistic twists, creating an aesthetic that’s modern but timeless. Getting the lowdown on the label, we caught up with their creative director Mariya Dykalo.

#1 Aspinal is a quintessentially British brand, what is it about the British identity and landscape that inspires you?

British identity is at the core of Aspinal, and luckily for us Britain has an amazing history, rich culture and beautiful landscapes, this naturally provides so much inspiration for Aspinal’s collections. One constant for us is looking at the duality of city life and the English countryside, the relationship between these two lifestyles is a common thread of inspiration we feature in every collection. Inspiration can come in all forms, at the early stages of planning our SS20 collection we referenced iconic fashion photography from the 1960’s – one of the most famous decades in British history for style. Photography by Norman Parkinson and Cecil Beaton captured London during this era, women who went on to become the very first ‘IT girls, what they were wearing and the bags they were carrying. For our upcoming AW20 collection, we were inspired by nature and art, in particular the works of the Sussex based artist Ivon Hitchens who moved to Sussex after living in London. Sussex is the home of Aspinal’s head office, which we felt captured the relationship between town and country perfectly

#2 From Aspinal of London wallets to quality leather handbags, what’s is the first step in the design process?

My design team and I actually always start by looking at our existing collection, we are lucky to have developed a strong selection of signature styles that we can look back upon to help shape our future collections. We look not only at what has been popular throughout previous seasons but also feedback from customers and colleagues which all shape how we can redress our signature styles to make them even more beautiful or more practical. I personally ensure my designs are about incorporating elegance and versatility, whilst maintaining practical functions. I carefully consider aesthetics and construction, and relate this to our customers, whether that be for a social occasion, travel or work – first-hand feedback is so important for this reason. Of course these adjustments to existing also then help shape and form ideas around new designs, which would naturally be an extension of our existing collection, a circular process.

#3 Everyone from pop stars to royals have been spotted with Aspinal of London handbags, how would you describe the Aspinal audience?

The Aspinal audience is a diverse collective of classic, elegant and cool individuals. Our customers are sophisticated, they juggle a busy lifestyle, going between the city and country, their work to their social life. They have a strong sense of personal style, with an eye for design classics and an appreciation that style never goes out of fashion.


#4 Which is your personal favourite Aspinal of London bag and why?

It’s so hard to pick favourites, I am generally obsessed with anything pink, so our SS20 is a perfect collection for me, there is so much of it! I love our new Micro Mayfair handbag in Penelope Pink Velvet & Silk Lizard, this is the new micro version of Aspinal’s iconic Midi Mayfair. It’s so chic and tiny but perfectly sized so that you can still fit your phone and any essentials comfortably.

Aspinal camera bag

#5 Aspinal of London is big on making accessories of the best quality, what do you look for when you source your materials to ensure they’re up to your level of ethics and quality?

Each and every one of Aspinal’s products is created with the same level of quality, craftsmanship and design. We work with trusted manufacturing partners and suppliers, some of which we have worked with for 10-15 years, they are welcome into our Aspinal family. We take time and care, with each one of our handbags constructed by hand from creation to completion using leather sourced from Europe’s finest Italian and Spanish tanneries. This trust means our customers can shop confidently, knowing Aspinal’s quality can be relied upon.

#6 The Aspinal range is really varied, merging trends with classic timeless shapes, how do you strike a balance between these two things?

As a designer, creating handbags that are beautiful, versatile, hardwearing and practical is my number one goal and is the common thread that runs throughout all the handbags in our collections. It’s always exciting to see how the market changes with new trends emerging throughout the season and as our lifestyles change, some may be right for Aspinal but some may not. As a brand, we always design with our customer in mind, it has to be right for our audience. We are lucky enough to have an extremely broad customer base who purchase bags to suit each aspect of their lives. From home to the office, to an evening occasion, this gives us the flexibility to have some fun with our collection by bringing in newness while maintaining our core brand values – handbags built to last with zero compromise on style to suit the many touchpoints of our customers’ lives.

aspinal mayfair

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#7 Can you tell us about the process of creating a new addition to Aspinal of London collections, from design to production?

As I mentioned before, first I look at what we have in the collection already, our signature styles and what has been very popular previously. We look at trends we have noticed emerging in the market to piece together potential gaps in our collection which can be filled with an exciting new design. I always get my original ideas down on paper through sketching, these naturally evolve throughout the process. More inspiration comes from visiting the leather shows in Milan and Paris, it’s amazing to see the new colours and textures, my mind is always buzzing with ideas after a show! Once we as a design team have agreed on new designs for a collection, we have a prototype made. I would say my most favourite moment has to be when new samples arrive, it is an amazing feeling to see the first prototype of a design you have been working on for 6 or more months. The whole design team comes together to preview, we try to pick which one we think will be the next bestseller and imagine who will be carrying the bag, everyone is so excited. The initial prototypes then get narrowed down to a more refined collection, we present this to the wider business including our buying and merchandising teams who will look at the collection from a completely different perspective. Final decisions are made in these sign off meetings, following these the collection will be put into production and arrive in time for the season start.

#8 Do Aspinal of London have any style muses or inspirations when working on new designs?

I would say a constant mood for Aspinal is luxury vintage style and travel. Old school Hollywood glamour meets the golden era of travel. Travelling in style is a train so synonymous with the brand, for me, it’s a seasonless, forever muse.

giles deacon

#9 In 2018 Giles Deacon joined the Aspinal of London team incorporating couture elements into the brand’s designs. How did you both come to join the team and has designing for the brand come naturally to you?

I studied art and design for a total of 9 years in Ukraine, gaining a masters qualification specialising in leather accessories and apparel. After graduation, I moved to England to improve my English and during this time began an internship at Aspinal in 2006, the beginning of my journey with the brand. I worked my way up to designer, then head of design and eventually Creative Director in 2013. Creativity is my life and my passion, by designing for Aspinal I am living my own dream every day. Designing,  painting, being creative is a natural state for me; the more I create and design the more ideas I get, creativity breeds creativity. The synergy between myself and Giles is very organic; he understands classic yet modernity of Aspinal. After the first Giles x Aspinal collaboration, it became a natural progression to appoint him as Design Director to work alongside me.

#10 Where do you see the brand in the next five years?

Right now in 2020, we are working very hard to build a future for Aspinal that optimises every opportunity we are given for positive environmental impact within our supply chain. We are achieving so much already, 95% of our products are transported by road or sea plus all leathers used in our collections are a by-product from other industries meaning a huge reduction in waste. In 5 years’ time it’s exciting to think what our hard work now will be achieving and what this means for the world around us.


Written by Lucy Harbron

Sarah Atkinson

Sarah Atkinson

Writer and expert