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Official APRIL IN PARIS (custom leather artisan) Thread: Feedback, Pics, Reviews

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by rach2jlc, Feb 15, 2011.

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  1. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I thought we needed an official thread for APRIL IN PARIS, a bespoke leather maker of superlative quality (Hermes trained, uses only superlative hides, saddle stitching, hardware, etc.)

    www.aprilinparis.us

    I've recently commissioned a bespoke work bag from her (a large shopper style tote), having had tons of bags over the years. I will update this thread as the process continues.

    PRICING: Since it is a bespoke item, obviously every bag will be very different. Nevertheless, for comparison, her bags generally start around $2800 for calf and go up to $10,000 or more for alligator or exotic pieces (this information is also published on her website, and on other sites, like PurseForum.) For comparison, a similar leather bag from Hermes would be about $7000 and $40+000 for alligator/exotics. Louis Vuitton leather bags of a similar style, made by machine (and not by hand as with hers) are well over $3000 and go up from there. As such, again, for a completely bespoke piece, I find the prices quite reasonable (all things considering.) Tom Ford or Valextra, too, is $3000 plus. Even Prada or Gucci would be nearly $2000, and they are made from very mid-range or even low-range hides, hardware, and manufacture.

    PROCESS: It is a completely bespoke item; she can do anything. You give her ideas, or solicit them. She has any color or type of leather you'd want, and is open to "tweaking" anything in the bag to fit your needs. She will provide an estimate, and then you can negotiate a specific timeline to receive the item. Do others have stories/pics/recs/reviews they'd like to share? So far in the process, I can't speak more highly of Bea (the owner), her professionalism, her openness and flexibility, and also her personality (she's very friendly, warm, and helpful.) Can't wait to get the bag itself in a few months!
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2013
  2. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    She is great to deal with, and one of the nice people I know. Work is exceptional. One year she brought in an artisan parfumer from France and invited good clients to come and learn to blend a scent. Maybe you'll get in on that too. We were out of town. [​IMG]
     
  3. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    ^I'm glad you posted on this thread, matt, since you probably have more experience with her than anybody else on the forum. Would love to see pics! Here is the color combo I chose for the bag... I told her the general effect/idea I wanted, and she sent me swatches. We picked a grained semi-soft calf ("stingray print" calf), which is durable, but not too stiff OR too soft. Reminds me a lot of Hermes Togo, but perhaps even better because it is not as heavy (less stiff than Epsom, less "slouchy" than Clemence). Quality of the hide is really excellent and probably sourced from the same French tanneries... though I didn't ask her yet exactly which tannery she uses. Outside of the bag is in the dark brown shown. Inside is in taupe (second color... a grayish/brownish taupe), with accents (cell phone pocket, folder pocket) inside in denim blue. I'm a terrible photographer and don't have a good camera, so the colors look washed out... they are very subtle, rich colors. In terms of overall style... it's RELATIVELY similar to the bag on the right (though with important "tweaks" to fit my needs.) [​IMG] Color/layout of the bag like the first one. Actual bag is a version/one-off/prototype based on this second bag I already own: [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  4. Xiaogou

    Xiaogou Senior member

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  5. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    rach, I like the colors you've selected. Looking forward to seeing the finished product.
     
  6. mmkn

    mmkn Senior member

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    Thanks ^. Been in the market for a murse myself.

    - M
     
  7. JayJay

    JayJay Senior member

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    She did a couple of small leathergoods for me. Great service and products.
     
  8. Virginia Dandy

    Virginia Dandy Senior member

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    I visited the shop and met Bea once several years ago. She couldn't have been nicer or more accommodating - let me watch her work for a spell and answered several questions.

    I ended up using someone on the east coast to make some wallets b/c easier to meet, look at skins in the real, etc. - but I think the quality of Bea's work is outstanding - at least from what I saw years ago. I doubt that's changed.
     
  9. Kuro

    Kuro Senior member

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    She has any color or type of leather you'd want..

    Does she have box calf (her website only shows grain)?

    Thanks.
     
  10. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Does she have box calf (her website only shows grain)? Thanks.
    Yes, she does. I decided on the grained/printed calf only because it doesn't scratch and my experience with Hermes box calf, especially, has frightened me with how it scuffs/scratches. As I mentioned, the leather I picked is closest to Hermes Togo, but again, she has her leathers sourced and dyed for her specifically (so these leather "types" are just references for convenience.) She also can work with the leather to give you the consistency/feel you want (for example, if you want slightly stiffer or slouchier, she can do that, even within the same type of leather.) On her website, listed above, should be some more pics. I don't have permission to post pics from her "private" area, but you can easily email her and they'll give you a password to see lots of pics. There are also a number of images online if you google "April in Paris" (use quotation marks) and bag or "Beatrice Amblard," who is the owner.
     
  11. Flieger

    Flieger Senior member

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    Awesome project and I have no doubt it will be a looker of a bag once finished.
    Can't wait for the updates.
     
  12. HORNS

    HORNS Senior member

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    Rach, were you here in San Fran?

    I walk by there all the time, since one of my offices is just down the street from her shop. She's been great - a fine craftsman with a gift of great customer service - every time I've walked in there, but have never bought anything. I have, however, drooled over her portfolio of previously commissioned bags.

    Edit - great color choices, rach, but why a textured leather for the interior?
     
  13. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Senior member Affiliate Vendor Dubiously Honored

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    I dislike the bag style, like a grocery tote. It's also a bit feminine.
     
  14. veloaudio

    veloaudio Senior member

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    I'm surprised there wasn't a thread on her yet. I've been thinking about ordering/comissioning a wallet from her. If/when I decide to order I'll post the info.

    Looking forward to updates on your bag.
     
  15. SpooPoker

    SpooPoker Internet Bigtimer and Most Popular Man on Campus Affiliate Vendor Dubiously Honored

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    I kicked tires with her on a project, which I never followed through with. Too bad on me, she was the utmost of professionalism and lightning fast replies. I should get that going again.
     
  16. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Rach, were you here in San Fran? I walk by there all the time, since one of my offices is just down the street from her shop. She's been great - a fine craftsman with a gift of great customer service - every time I've walked in there, but have never bought anything. I have, however, drooled over her portfolio of previously commissioned bags. Edit - great color choices, rach, but why a textured leather for the interior?
    No, we did everything via phone/email. I'd love to have visited her, but work/research/time prevented it. As for the interior, she was open to different things, but given that I like to use the bag for carrying folders, in addition to a water bottle, and even groceries (if I stop by the store on my way home), I liked the lining that would repel water, and also retain its shape. An ungrained, uncoated calf would show water marks, scratches, and also bend/warp over time with folders and such in it. A canvas/textile fabric was probably an option, but like Hermes or Valextra, she tends to prefer doing a full leather interior (which is more labor intensive, and also a sign of superlative quality/attention to detail.)
    I dislike the bag style, like a grocery tote. It's also a bit feminine.
    You go with the bag that fits best your needs. I've had dozens of bags, in virtually all styles, starting about ten years ago when I got my "first" job. I found that "shopper" style totes worked best for my needs, needing to fit books, a computer, and (mentioned above) groceries or things I pick up during my day. Being able to tweak a style to fit exactly the size/use for me, was best. As such, I picked this style ONLY for my own needs, and not for anything else. A briefcase/messenger/backpack or anything else, of the dozens I've had, didn't "match" as well for what I needed. That's the beauty of a bespoke item... probably there SHOULD be no other members who would say "I want that bag." It's designed for ME, and that's what I paid for. As well, I found this style a good "starter" project for us. Assuming this goes well, I plan to use Bea and AiP for all of my future bag purchases/projects, and as such wanted to start with something manageable, relatively affordable, and that fit my needs. My next bag ,however, will be very different (basically a custom attache case.) Like going to a Bespoke Tailor, you start your journey with them with a relatively simple project, and build your relationship with them based on that performance. I look forward to being a "lifelong" customer of Bea, assuming all goes as well as I expect, and as well as all signs suggest.
     
  17. mmkn

    mmkn Senior member

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    [​IMG]

    bag style

    I don't know Kent, I think it very much fits rach2jlc's style.

    The scale is a little bigger than his inspiration's, but I'm all for function following form in this case.

    - M
     
  18. HORNS

    HORNS Senior member

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    Have you considered round, more tubular-shaped handles, as opposed to the strap-like ones you pictured? Just a thought because of ergonomics - carrying heavier loads in the bag might be more comfortable with the former. Of course those type of handles wouldn't "drape" down when not used, but I suppose it could be made do so above where the handle is attached to the bag.
     
  19. Kent Wang

    Kent Wang Senior member Affiliate Vendor Dubiously Honored

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    Are you going to get rubber nibs (or whatever they're called) on the bottom to prevent wear?
     
  20. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Have you considered round, more tubular-shaped handles, as opposed to the strap-like ones you pictured? Just a thought because of ergonomics - carrying heavier loads in the bag might be more comfortable with the former. Of course those type of handles wouldn't "drape" down when not used, but I suppose it could be made do so above where the handle is attached to the bag.
    Definitely considered a number of handle attachments/styles. Decided on the flat/strap ones as they tended to be (for me) more comfortable than rolled ones. I have/had a number of bags with rolled handles and I don't like them for heavy loads... not sure why, but my initial guess would be perhaps that you have less surface area in a rolled handle where your hand actually holds the handle. As well, they will be wider and shorter than the ones in the second pic (more like the one that I'm holding above.) Smaller handle drop, wider surface area.
    Are you going to get rubber nibs (or whatever they're called) on the bottom to prevent wear?
    Nope; it's going to be fully streamlined (on the outside, at least... the inside has a number of tweaks/features). I don't really want a piece of luggage, and a very clean aesthetic is my goal (on the outside). No logos, no stamps, no "nibs," no shoulder strap, no metal attachments for the handles, etc. As for wear, that's one reason I chose the type of leather I did... it doesn't really scratch, and it can be fully refurbished years down the road. I also don't set my leather bags down on the ground; even in a restaurant, my bags get their own chair. [​IMG] One also has to consider in all of these things... nibs, shoulder straps, zipper pockets, rolled handles (which are filled with tubing/stuffing), etc. etc. also add weight... and I wanted a versatile, but lightweight bag. Many here like a Saddleback or other types of bags... but a mark of "quality" for me is not necessarily that the bag weigh as much as a Sherman tank (haha). One of my other requirements (or "challenges" for her) as she works with the leather is to see how strong, but leightweight, she can make the bag. I dont' want structured, but I also don't want slouchy. She's also reinforcing certain elements of the bag and using a thicker thread than most brands use (none of which will really be visible/obvious when looking at the bag.) I basically want the Seagram Building, if the Seagram Building were a bag.
     

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