By Mao Shan Wang
Sometimes, a pair isn’t quite enough. I mean, don’t you occasionally wish you have more than two hands? That is, of course, not possible (I don’t know what bio-science, sometimes aberrant, will think of next), but you can wish for a bag with two sets of handles. And Bimba Y Lola has exactly that bag.
The Japanese would be quick to call this a “two-way” tote because you can carry this in your hand, as well as over your shoulder. However, Bimba Y Lola, Spanish and as straightforward as Zara, simply calls it a bag, which, of course, it is. But those finicky about exact description will call this a tote, and merchandisers will gladly add that this is, give its orientation, specifically an east-west tote.
But let’s not quibble. If I can be honest, this tote is not exceptional. Even the Balenciaga-ish branding in white is extraneous despite some members of our local media call it “headlining”. It’s your usual, beach-bag-style quadrilateral with a top wider than the base. Yet, it attracted me. The handles specifically: a pair of long-enough nude leather straps that can be placed over the shoulder (but not for cross-body use) and another pair of short, rigid, metal grips not unlike those you’d find on old-fashioned, supermarket wire baskets.
Inspiration based on supermarket hardware is hardly new. Remember Chanel? An entire show was staged in a make-belief Chanel-branded store that prompted looting after the presentation. Bimba Y Lola does not pretend to be what they are not, but there is something cheeky about this tote that will appeal to those not-too-many women who want something highly usable yet quirky.
Bimba Y Lola is the label of sisters Uxia and Maria Dominguez, nieces of Adolfo Dominguez, who, together with compatriots such as Antonio Miro and the highly regarded Sybilla Sorondo, had successfully exported Spanish names abroad in the early 1990s. The Dominguez sisters’ father happens to be the founder of Sociedad Textil Lonia (STL), one of the biggest players in the Spanish textile industries. Born in Bilboa in 2006, Bimba Y Lola, named after the sisters’ dogs, appeared to be positioned as a more fashion-forward alternative to the likes of Zara, or anything under the Inditex group.
The news early this year was that the sisters were looking for a buyer to take over their label. This came around the time when their uncle’s public-listed brand was not giving investors a rosy picture. I was told that the Spaniards hesitate to lump Bimbo Y Lola with the rest of their high-street names, and it is understandable. Bimba Y Lola is far more interesting (sorry, that’s the only word I can think of now) than their Spain-born competitors.
In fact, they have consistently produced such stylishly gripping (better? 😁) clothes that many stylists here consider the brand a well-kept secret. Their bags, for example, are so whimsical and alluring that they make Kate Spade’s look staid.
Back to the two-handle leather tote. I suspect many women will find the metal handle a tad too hard to hold (even with the plastic guard) and may hurt the palm when the bag is too well-stuffed and there isn’t a willing boyfriend to share the weight. If so, go to Tokyu Hands and buy a padded PU handle grip. You can do yourself that favour.
Bimba Y Lola leather bag, SGD625, is available at Bimba Y Lola stores. Photo: Bimba Y Lola