Deep in the antique stores and flea markets around the Eastern Seaboard, Alice Saunders scouts materials to create Forestbound, her line of hand-made totes, purses and carry-alls. She makes each bag out of salvaged items that imbue them with a sense of history, interpreted by Saunders' own distinctive aesthetic.
"I'm about to finish up my spring special collection, which is based around a blacksmith's leather apron from the 1930s," says Boston-based Saunders. "All of the bags will incorporate straps or buckles constructed out of this particular apron, and the styles are inspired by what I envision a blacksmith from that era would have used." In addition to her personal spring collection, Saunders is also currently working on a small collection of four bags for Terrain, Anthropologie's home and garden shop.
The bags are ruggedly woodsy, her style influenced by an outdoorsy New England childhood as well as a sense of nostalgia. "I think a lot about canvas and leather bags that would have been used eighty years ago, and how I can recreate that in a way that's practical for everyday use," she explains.
Anthropologie's interest in her bags, as well as an upcoming collaboration with Brooklyn's Digby & Iona, would probably make most people consider expanding operations. But Saunders is determined to keep her business small. "Creating a bag based around that day's finds is the whole reason I'm so passionate about what I do. I'm definitely going to try my best to always find my own materials and be responsible for all of the construction."
In addition to larger collections for Anthropologie and other retailers, Saunders also sells her bags online. Prices vary depending on size and material, but start around $26 for a utility pouch to $300 for a leather carryall.