The start of a new season is a defining moment in everyone's style. Whether you're digging last year's spring staples out of your closet or looking for newer pieces, it's the perfect time to invite hints of warmth into your daily wardrobe. The latest sandle, a new pair of sunglasses, or a new denim jacket can spruce up any spring look. Still, much like the boot defines fall, few accessories represent spring like a good bag, and designers like Lara Olutunbi of LarAllan are out to change how we accessorize.
The UK-based brand launched in 2019 and has become known for its signature acrylic bags which bear empowering images of women from various cultures. With bright colors, luxe elements, and Olutunbi's artfully drawn figures, LarAllan bags have been spotted on red carpet goers and streetwear stars alike. Olutunbi's lineup had a bag for every occasion, from decorated statement clutches for parties and classic designs for errands and work. But the message behind the illustrations makes LarAllan's bags a staple. With each design, Olutunbi celebrates the beauty and diversity of all women, which resonates with shoppers across the globe.
Ahead, we sat down with the Nigerian-born designer to learn more about her brand and her inspiration to highlight women in such a unique and artistic way.
How did you get started in accessory design?
I always intended to do fashion design, but the accessory design aspect came from seeing a diversity gap, and I decided to design for women like me. It used to take ages to find the right clutch bag at an affordable price point that still had a high-quality design and the real aha moment came when I was scouting for a clutch for my first cousin's wedding.
What is the inspiration behind your illustrations?
I want to be intentional about celebrating the woman, her social and cultural wins, milestones, sisterhood, diversity, and strength. I think it's important for girls everywhere to see images that celebrate women who look like them and to see that culture can be synonymous with luxury. So, with each design, I make a point to use vibrant colors, bold jewel tones, or gold hardware as a way to add richness to the bags.
As an avid reader, I was overjoyed to see book bags in your spring collection. Can you share the significance behind them and the famed 'Ade' bag?
The book clutches in the Wonderland Collection are very dear to me. Each bag is named after my nieces, and it's my way of telling them they are beautiful, valuable, and smart. Nigeria inspires the Ade design. In Yoruba, Ade means royalty, and it tells the story of the average Nigerian woman who is a fashion lover at heart. Nigerians love a good party, so I wanted to create the ultimate party bag.
The Shero Tote is another LarAllan design loved by social media. Can you tell me a bit of the inspiration behind it?
Shero celebrates women across all cultures who are doing the best they can and pushing past the struggles they endure. A large tote carryall was apt to tell the stories that unify these women for the design. It's also a great conversation piece and a statement bag. I wanted to make this an everyday bag, something stylish that would add fun to activities like running errands that shouldn't be so boring.
Each bag name is so unique. What is your process for naming them?
It depends on what we are celebrating or what stories we are trying to tell. A few that come to mind are the Faith and Hope bag names which were autobiographical. They are my labor of love and symbolize why I push through the challenges to do fashion and the tears and sweat that go into building a brand. Josephine celebrates my 102-year-old grandmother, whom I was very close to. I chose Kiki and Aiko to represent the Black and Asian sisterhood. While Jamilah celebrates the Middle Eastern woman with a nod to the Vote to Drive movement.
What inspired your latest Wonderland collection?
I wanted to create a collection of bags that could easily transcend from a fabulous night out to a daytime engagement. I've released clutches in my previous collections, but I knew the LarAllan woman wanted functional and fashionable daytime bags. We call it the Wonderland collection because we're presenting our shoppers with various designs and colors to choose from that are suitable for all styles and occasions.
What stories do you hope to share through LarAllan?
With LarAllan, I want to share my story and those of other women by weaving them into our designs. Ultimately, I want to shine a light on Black excellence and be the voice that says: We understand luxury, and we deliver it well from our point of view.