Luxurious and ecoconscious: Ashley Alves’s handbags strike the balance

The elaborate, one-of-a-kind clutches, crossbodies, and carryalls are an homage to her family’s native Cabo Verde
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Ashley Alves
Ashley Alves

Photograph by Ben Rollins

Patchworking silks. Hand-embroidering hibiscus. Silk-screening original drawings. Designer Ashley Alves does it all for her new 38-piece collection of ecoconscious, luxe handbags, Bolsa Verde (Portuguese for “green bag”). She even carves her own handles out of walnut.

The designer creates the elaborate, one-of-a-kind clutches, crossbodies, and carryalls as an homage to her family’s native Cabo Verde, a group of islands off the coast of West Africa. By day, she’s a textile and pattern designer for Spanx. (She’s been sewing since age three and earned master’s degrees in illustration and fashion from SCAD.)

Alves says she’s searching for a sweet spot where luxury meets sustainability. She upcycles brocade scraps from Paris’s flea markets, handmade copper beads from Ethiopia, cork from Lisbon, freshwater pearls from Florida, and antique brass military buttons from San Francisco.

The designer also donates 40 percent of the proceeds to nonprofits in Cabo Verde and Atlanta. Says Alves: “I want to make art that matters.” $575 to $5,000, ashleyalvescollection.com

This article originally appeared in our June 2017 issue.

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