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Behind the Design– the Ila Belt Bag


Behind the Design– the Ila Belt Bag

Belt Bags have quickly become popular in the fashion world. If belt bags are foreign to you, then listen up! They are functional, versatile, and stylish. ABLE is so excited to announce that we have added our very own, custom designed belt bag to our Holiday 2018 Collection.

The Leather Design Contest

Belt bags come in various colors, shapes, and sizes, but our belt bag is truly one of a kind. Earlier this year, ABLE extended an exclusive offer to all bag lovers and “undercover designers.” We teamed up with Altitude Summit, a premiere conference for creative entrepreneurs and stylish social media influencers, to share this one of a kind offer.

Together, we hosted our first ever leather design contest where participants could submit their very own bag design. The top six finalists’ bags came to life with a prototype manufactured at our leather producer in Ethiopia. From there, it was up to the public. While each bag was amazing, the people spoke, and Alex Gilreath’s belt bag design was voted on and quickly put into the production line. Not only is her bag now featured in our Holiday Collection, but she also won a $1000 ABLE shopping spree, and bragging rights of course! The two runner-ups even won $500 shopping sprees at ABLE.

After the six bags were narrowed down to one, our leather team began collaborating with Alex to place finishing touches so that the bag would be ready for the holiday collection.


More About the Designer

My earliest appreciation for fashion began when I was 7 years old. Several years and a high school graduation later, I decided to major in Apparel Merchandising at Auburn University and learned everything I could about the business side of fashion.

In college, I learned about the poor working conditions in other countries where the clothing I wear and love is manufactured. I was horrified when I realized how much suffering goes into producing clothing. When you start to pay attention to the history of your clothes, you begin to appreciate companies like ABLE, who take social justice and ethics seriously and, in doing so, provide a glimmer of hope through their empowerment of women.

Since graduating, I’ve been privileged to work with notable stylists and designers (looking at you, Joseph Cassell, Ellie Stidolph, Amanda Valentine, Amanda Sears!) who have each been huge inspirations in my fashion journey.

Why a Belt Bag?

Throughout my time in production, I’ve noticed a need for a small, functional bag. A hands-free bag that would lend itself well to a busy work environment and could easily transition into a clutch at night when you go out with friends.

I follow several fashion bloggers on Instagram and noticed all of my favorite fashionistas strutting the streets of New York wearing fanny pack style bags during Fashion Week.

After a few alterations, I was happy with it — big enough to hold a phone, credit card and, of course, snacks, but small enough to be worn around the hips. I was thrilled to name the bag after my great aunt, Ila, a strong woman, seamstress, and tireless crochet maven.

The whole design process was new for me, and I really enjoyed learning about the steps it takes to turn an idea into a product.

Belt Bag Functionality

If you are unfamiliar with what exactly a “Belt Bag” is, we will give you the rundown. A belt bag conveniently holds your essentials while you can multitask hands free. This bag can be worn around the waist or across your shoulder for a fashion forward look. When you want to style it differently, detach and wear the belt, then turn the bag into a clutch.

This contest was so exciting for us to host because it allowed thinking to surface from outside of the box! This stylish piece is great for everyone. We love involving ABLE lovers in production decisions and hope to have another contest in 2019!

Be sure to tag us with your new belt bag at #myABLE!

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