New England antiques reconstructed into rugged totes

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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.

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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.”

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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.