Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
We inform. You decide.
Friday, April 12, 2024

Gainesville’s fashion scene is about to get more exclusive.

Laura Vela, 23, is selling one-of-a-kind handbags to women like herself — those who love fashion and see it as a form of self-expression but don’t want to be seen like everyone else.

The Barcelona native and aspiring designer will be in Gainesville until August studying business through UF’s graduate international exchange program.

“Fashion for me, whenever I think about it, is a way of escaping what is going on in the world,” Vela said.

Vela, who studies executive management and fashion marketing at ESADE, a business school in Spain, is taking a break from business to launch her own fashion line.

“I’ve always wanted to do something creative, but I am also aware of how difficult it is to be someone in this world,” Vela said about her new venture.

She already has one foot in the industry: Vela studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and contributed to Teen Vogue. She has also styled A-list celebrities while working at American Rebel PR, including Jessica Alba, Leighton Meester, Ed Westwick, Miley Cyrus, Lindsay Lohan and Zac Efron.

Vela started designing handbags four weeks ago, by accident. After designing two bags just for fun, hoards of compliments sparked the young designer to consider starting a business. The rest came naturally.

“I just started drawing,” Vela said about the beginning designs for her handbags. “At FIT I was taking fashion-related classes, like styling or upcoming trends, but not fashion design.”

Vela’s personalized handbags master the ability of combining high fashion with high quality. She plans on targeting women who look for individuality in the accessories they buy, something they can’t find at stores like Forever 21, she said.

“I want to make the girl who wears my bag to feel special and unique,” Vela said. “And since I want to sell a purse that is unique, I want it to be good quality.”

Vela hand-picks the materials used in producing her handbags from fabric stores in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She only uses real leather or snakeskin. The extra embellishments, such as silver studs and zippers, come from Los Angeles or vintage stores. Vela says the bags are expected to last at least five years.

Enjoy what you're reading? Get content from The Alligator delivered to your inbox

Vela says her designs are the perfect complement to a simple outfit.

So far, there is no precise style to her line of handbags, which is the point. Vela makes each design different so that there is variety.

“If today I am in a rock and roll kind of mood, the black stud purse would be perfect,” Vela said regarding the imagination she tries to create to go along with her bags.

Her first design, for example, is a muted colored snakeskin clutch in baby blue, gray and mauve. Some of her newer designs include a tan handbag with ruffled layers and a zebra-print interior, or a hot pink snakeskin clutch smothered with silver studs.

Vela’s handbags can be purchased for $100 to $120.

She is in the process of working with local distributors and building a Web site.

Support your local paper
Donate Today
The Independent Florida Alligator has been independent of the university since 1971, your donation today could help #SaveStudentNewsrooms. Please consider giving today.

Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Independent Florida Alligator and Campus Communications, Inc.