A New York City craftsman is giving New Yorkers a chance to make their own custom handbag.
Anthony Luciano has fashion and crafting in his blood. His mother and grandmother were both seamstresses and his father was a craftsman, so going into a hands-on field like that was a no-brainer.
Luciano enrolled in FIT and after spending a few years in the Garment District, he soon found his calling as a designer.
“I thought, well, what am I gonna do with this education? So I started making accessories for fun,” said Luciano. “25 years later, I’m still running my own business. So I really found my fashion.”
Luciano found great success selling handbags that feature vintage hardware. After garnering a great amount of success in retail, Luciano shifted to a direct-to-consumer model for his business.
“People either come here to the studio to do a custom thing or call me. It’s a very intimate thing when people choose their leathers, their shapes, what they want in their handbag, what their lives contain inside their handbag,” said Luciano. “So I’m finding it a better experience to do just the sort of more intimate customized pieces now.”
For the past year and a half, Luciano has been hosting Sip & Stitch classes that allow participants to make their own custom bags. Despite the same, Luciano says that those who take a class don’t need any sewing experience at all to participate in the class.
“The first step is choosing the leathers that you want to make your customized bag. Everyone makes the same bag, but they get to choose the leathers that they are going to be using. Then you go back to your designated station where all your tools are, your pattern and all the things that you need and you start making your bag,” said Luciano.
The classes started taking shape after Luciano had to move his studio amid the pandemic. He originally was on the 14th floor of 347 W 36th St., but after the ceiling fell in, he was able to move his studio to the 17th floor.
“Through the rubble, my landlord was gracious enough to move me to a different space which I decided to turn into my dream space. I had a bar put in, I have a little living room area, I decided to make it a working studio that looked like a speakeasy,” said Luciano. “I did it because the building itself was like a dorm room and everyone in the building seemed to end up in my studio space just to come and hang out. They would maybe want to get crafty and make stuff just as a relief from their day-to-day jobs, so they would just come up here and watch me work. I would continue working and they would just be chatting and having fun and possibly be working on stuff as well. But I thought, well, what a cool idea would be if I could actually give this opportunity to other people out in the world and share what I do with other people.”
Luciano gives participants step-by-step instructions on how to construct their new bags while the class enjoys some wine or whatever they choose to drink (the lass offers one complimentary adult beverage but is BYOB). Like with the bags that he sold retail, Luciano provides vintage hardware and details that can make the bag truly one of a kind. At the end of the class, you get to walk away with a custom accessory that’s ready to hit the streets with you.
Private classes are also an option for Sip & Stitch, and you can have the option to make a different leather accessory, such as eyeglass cases, mini wallets, and even baby booties.
“If you could imagine it, we could probably make it happen for you,” said Luciano.
Luciano says that the classes got a huge influx of popularity after he appeared on “Today” on NBC.
“[The classes] just catapulted into a whole different animal,” said Luciano. “I was so unprepared. The response has been completely overwhelming in the best possible way. People coming in from all over the country to take the class.”
As he continues to host the Sip & Stitch classes, Luciano hopes that he can further expand his studio to help build out the classes further and to just have people enjoy the space itself.
“I’m really open to trying to expand it in every possible way because it’s so much fun for me and I love having people in my studio. That’s part of the atmosphere, it makes it more enjoyable. It’s not just a class, You’re not just showing up at like an empty space with some tables, it really is a beautiful atmosphere,” said Luciano.
For more information about Luciano or the Sip & Stitch classes, visit anthonyluciano.com.