FINALISTS SELECTED FOR THE INDEPENDENT HANDBAG DESIGNER AWARDS™
--Handbag Designer 101 Honors Excellence at the Second Annual “Handbag Awards”--

NEW YORK, NY, April 30, 2008 – Handbag Designer 101, the handbag designer resource, announces today the long awaited results of the finalists for the Independent Handbag Designer Awards. Over 600 applications were received from around the world ranging with diverse backgrounds from South Dakota to Colombia to Lithuania. The Independent Handbag Designer Awards is the only design competition of its kind in the world for handbag designers to receive credibility and recognition to stand out in today’s competitive accessory market. The winners will be announced on June 18th at the IHDA event at the New York Historical Society.

Finalists compete for a variety of prizes such as an apprenticeship with Henri Bendel’s handbag accessory design team for the Best Student Made Handbag; an opportunity to have their bags on Bag Borrow or Steal for the Audience Fan-Favorite, to design an original 360 Vodka eco-luxury handbag for the Best Green Handbag; a feature in Taunton Press’ CraftStylish.com and a brand new Singer Curvy 8763 sewing machine for the Best Handmade Handbag; a chartable donation to their cause for the Most Socially Responsible Handbag, their bag featured on ABC’s All My Children and a free booth at WWDMAGIC Accessories Show in Las Vegas (worth over $7000) for the Best Handbag in Overall Style and Design as well as other press-related accolades, a trunk show and being part of a trunk show and window display at Henri Bendel in addition to being named the best in their respective category.

“These 25 designers whether they are established or emerging, share a common passion, commitment and creativity to make a unique handbag while being role-models for entrepreneurship and small business,” says Emily Blumenthal, founder of Handbag Designer 101 and the Independent Handbag Designer Awards. “Each designer is well deserved in their recognition for in each category of Best Student-Made Handbag, Best Handmade Handbag, Most-Socially Responsible Handbag Best Green Handbag, and Best Handbag in Overall Style and Design.”

These 25 finalists were chosen by a preliminary judging panel of Handbag Designer 101. The winners of each category will be selected by a prestigious group of individuals. They are Ann Watson (Fashion Director at Henri Bendel), Lisa Smilor (Associate Director for the Council of Fashion Designers of America), Dani Stahl (Style Director of Nylon Magazine), Dana Palzkill (Senior Vice President of Product Management for Bag, Borrow or Steal), Rebecca Weinberg (Emmy Award Winning costume designer and stylist), David Zyla (3-Time Daytime Emmy Nominated Costume Designer for ABC Inc./All My Children) and Julia Poteat (Assistant Professor of Fashion Methods for Parsons The New School for Design) will decide who has created the "Top Handbag Design" and select a winner from each respective category. These finalists, whose bags all must be made under their own label, representing a wide range of styles and designs, in each category are:

Best Student Made Handbag – The finalist’s bags are students who have successfully started their lines while still in school. This award will be presented by Ann Watson, Fashion Director at Henri Bendel.
- Rebecca Allen, Rebecca, AI Miami University, Florida
- Lissa Jooijman, Hydralis, Technical University Eindhoven, The Netherlands
- Dana Van Daele, Grey Sunshine, The Fashion Institute of Technology, New York
- Clara Yoo, C L A R A Y O O, Parsons The New School for Design, New York
- Lina Motoki, Lina Motoki, Parsons The New School for Design, New York

Best Handmade Handbag – The finalist’s bags must be sewn, crocheted, knitted or any other material where the designer themselves is making their bag by hand or machine. This award will be presented by Debbie Stoller, Author of the Stitch ‘N Bitch Series and Founder of Bust Magazine.
- Renee Parrill, Flamestitch
- Dawn Kelly, Dawn Kelly
- Laura Nelli, Nelle
- Shara N. Brown, Accessory Niche
- Darren Wallace, Darren Wallace

Best Green Handbag – The finalist’s bags that are made out of sustainable, recycled or organic materials. This award will be presented by Allyn Feldman of McCormick Distilling’s 360 Vodka.
- Evelina, Vegan Queen – Eco Luxury
- Tracy Penwell, Dressed Up Cat Fashion Re-fashioned
- Jonathan Marcoschamer, Ecoist
- Suzanna Scarola, Bellabags
- Nazly Villamizar, NAZLY VILLMIZAR by Ecoist

Most Socially Responsible Handbag – The finalist’s bags meet certain ethical and moral standards in regards to production, employment and philanthropy and have impacted the local culture of the country of manufacturing. This award will be presented by Kendall Farrell, Executive Director of the Bottomless Closet.
- Christiane Valdez, La Chica Chic, Made in Brazil
- Nyasha Manyonda, Afrobag, Made in Zimbabwe
- Qy: Caroline Swarbrick and Marie De Ryck, Hatti Trading, Made in Nepal
- Jamila Hubbard, Mad Imports, Made in Madagascar
- Bridget Reid, PFYH, Made in Canada via Peru

Best Handbag in Overall Style and Design – This category represents the best executed handbag in overall style and design and will be presented by IHDA, Jana Hanci, CEO of LaunchBags.
- Julie Lazarus, Elezar
- Wendy Lau, Edidi
- Diego Rocha, Diego Rocha,
- Georgia Thompson, mass london ltd
- Lui Antinous, Lui Antinous

The final category to be celebrated is “Audience-Selected Handbag” where fans can vote for their favorite independent handbag designer based on the 20 finalists on Handbag Designer 101 and Bag Borrow or Steal. This award will be presented by BBoS’ Chief Marketing Officer, Jodi Watson. This designer that received the most votes will be announced the night of June 18th at the IDHA event with the other category winners. These aforementioned category finalists’ work can be seen at http://www.handbagdesigner101.com/awards/finalists_2008.
Legendary handbag brand LEIBER will receive the IHDA ICONOCLAST Award. For 45 years, LEIBER has been a leader in luxury accessory design. Currently, LEIBER has broadened its customer base by evolving the product to meet the needs of a younger customer while remaining true to its heritage. LEIBER has stood the test of time and continues to earn international acclaim with their innovative handbags and accessories, and most recently selected as "Most Prestigious Handbag" by the Luxury Institute's Luxury Brand Status Index and will be presented by its CEO, Milton Pedraza.

The main underwriting sponsor of the IHDA is LaunchBags, the one-stop shop for all things handbag. From inception to sale, their services support, emerging and established talent in the accessories industry. Additional sponsors include: Women’s Wear Daily, The Luxury Institute, WWDMAGIC, Bag Borrow or Steal, Henri Bendel, The Fashion Business Improvement District: The Fashion Center, Commerce Bank, Rosenthal & Rosenthal Inc., The Garment Industry Development Corporation, Parsons The New School of Design, Wathne Limited, M&J Trimming, TUKATECH, Leather Suede Skins, Rosen & Chadick Fabrics, RIRI Zippers/Pacific Trimmings, Verve NYC, Digital Plus, Clothing Labels 4U.com, 360 Vodka, Glaceau, POM Wonderful, Casa de Vinos and the Bottomless Closet.

For complete information or to purchase tickets for the Independent Handbag Designer Awards, check out www.handbagdesigner101.com or www.hbd101.com.

Handbag Designer 101, the handbag designer resource, was inspired by the need for the handbag designer, aficionado and fan in all of us as one knows we can never have too many bags. Handbag Designer 101 and Independent Handbag Designer Awards trademarks are owned by handbagdesigner101.com, a privately held company based in New York City.

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