A Dutzi bag is immediately recognisable; recycled Mexican burlap encrusts the surface, whilst the ancient Mayan technique is employed to create the hand-woven wood and leather straps. Each bag is hand-made in the Dutzi workshop which opened in Valladolid, Yucatan in 2009.
The story of the brands founder, Ariane Dutzi, demonstrates just how she was destined for the eco fashion market. In her former life, Ariane was a foreign correspondent in Paris and New York, specializing in fashion and design, before landing in New York, where she worked alongside the vintage buyer for Ralph Lauren. A huge insight into a designer’s mind and their vast knowledge was gained after working alongside some of the worlds’ best designers; sewing the seeds of the designer that she would soon become.
During this time, her favourite spot for rest and relaxation was in Tulum, Mexico. Whilst working with friends in the luxury hotel business, she noticed high-end and celebrity clients were all looking for a luxury souvenir to take home from the Yucatan.
“That’s what gave me the idea to start Dutzi handbags,” Dutzi recalls. “I started on a very small scale working with a local artisan, having him construct my handbag designs. It never really went anywhere until I decided to get a full-time place in the Yucatan… In starting my own business, I knew I wanted to do it differently. I wanted to create beautiful things but respect Mother Earth and help others and give back to society at the same time,” Dutzi explains. “Being in Valladolid gave me the opportunity to source these great materials like recycled burlap and hand-dried leather, and to work with my artisans, empowering them and giving them a chance to apply their skills and earn an income.”
The Dutzi workshop came to life in 2009 to encourage and empower the local community, by offering training and materials to local men and women. Dutzi also encourages budding entrepreneurs, by paying workers for each completed bag. This way the workers can decide how much they want to work.
Dutzi bags are sold in Mexico, Italy, Japan, USA and at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen, where Dutzi recently held a trunk show.
“I was in the Hamptons doing promotional events and sales and just went into Urban Zen as a customer,” says Dutzi. “A woman stopped me and asked me about my bag, telling me how much she loved it. She asked if I had ever considered selling them in Urban Zen. The woman introduced herself as Gabby, Donna Karan’s daughter, and asked if she could take my bag to tell her mother about it. Pleasantly surprised, I of course gave the bag to her and expected her to pull out her phone and take a picture or maybe call her mother, but she instead walked into the next room calling out, “Mom!” So that was the day I had the pleasure of meeting Donna Karan and talking about my designs and the Dutzi artisan project with her.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
Dutzi is currently busy working on a winter collection, after strong concerns that customers might feel seasonally limited by burlap. But Ariane does not wish to stop there, with future plans of introducing shoes, hats and belts to the brand, as well as launching a line for dogs and even a home collection.
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