SWITCHING SIDES WITH STYLE
Ivana’s bags have a unique, adaptable feature that enables customers to express their true selves, whatever the occasion
“My brand is not just about owning a beautiful bag, it’s also about presenting who you are,” says Ivana de Haan, owner of Dutch luxury accessories company Ivana. “Ivana is not only my name, it is also an acronym for ‘Inspiring’, ‘Valuable’, ‘Authentic’, ‘Never alone’ and ‘Amazing’. I think all of us are those things – we just don’t always see it. That’s why my motto is, ‘Dare to be yourself’.”
Serbian-born Ivana started out as an entrepreneur running a recruitment agency for technicians. But in 2015, always a fashion lover, she felt the pull to do something completely different with her life. “And that’s how I had the idea to make my own handbags,” she explains.
Ivana wanted to create a bag with a difference, one that withstood the vagaries of fashion. The result was a classic-shaped leather handbag with elegant gold hardware in two sizes, the Mini Me and the Max Me – so named because they bear Ivana’s moniker. Handmade in Istanbul, the bags come in a select range of colours and finishes.
What truly sets these bags apart is that they are also customizable, thanks to a device known as a “Switchy”. This is a piece of leather or fabric that can be securely attached to the bag with a belt and magnets, altering its appearance to fit the wearer’s clothes or moods, whether they want to be casual, smart or glamorous.
The Switchy came about by accident. “When I designed the first bag and I looked at it, I thought it wasn’t complete,” says Ivana. “And then I noticed a small piece of paper lying on the bag. It altered the bag’s appearance and inspired me to create the Switchy; to make the bag changeable.”
There are now 35 different designs of Switchy in a host of colours and featuring material options such as faux fur, diamonds or sequins. Each bag comes with one free Switchy, and customers can then select as many others as they like from the company’s website. A Switchy can also be made bespoke to accommodate an individual’s desires. “If, for example, a client has a particular kind of material in a jacket or a skirt, they can ask for a Switchy to be made from the same fabric,” says Ivana. “Or, for instance, they can have their name printed on their Switchy.”
She doesn’t follow traditional fashion seasons, instead adding new Switches according to demand: “It doesn’t matter if summer is over; if somebody wants to wear a yellow bag they should be able to do so,” says Ivana. Her own favourite Switchy is in a black and white geometric pattern, which, she says, matches her personal style.
When, in 2017, Ivana was asked to create an exclusive handbag for Princess Charlene of Monaco, she wanted to give Prince Albert a present too. “That’s how I came to design a tie to match the handbag,” she explains. Ties and matching handkerchiefs in the same fabrics as the Switchy range are now a permanent part of her collection.
Ivana hopes that, in the future, her bags will be available to buy in stores. Also, plans are afoot to raise money for street children by donating a proportion of the proceeds of each sale on her website to charity. “I want to create a kind of community with this brand,” she says. “It’s very important that we show the world and ourselves who we truly are.”